Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Integrated Offender Management: Assessing the Impact and Benefits-Holy Grail or Fool's Errand?

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Integrated Offender Management: Assessing the Impact and Benefits-Holy Grail or Fool's Errand?

Article excerpt


Evidencing the impact and financial benefits of Integrated Offender Management (IOM) has been a challenge for Government and local agencies ever since IOM was recognised by the Government through Home Office guidance in 2009. IOM came to prominence when reductions in public finance commenced due to the economic crisis a year earlier. Given its widespread adoption across England and Wales, evidencing the impact and cost effectiveness of IOM has become the holy grail for local agencies and Government. It is particularly pertinent at this moment in England and Wales. The continuation of IOM at a local level is potentially under threat from the Government's Transforming Rehabilitation strategy (Ministry of Justice 2013a). It is perhaps ironic that IOM approaches based on the principle of more effectively joining up provision (Senior et al 2011) may potentially be dismantled by the fragmentation of community based offender management services as envisaged by Transforming Rehabilitation. The MoJ strategy sets out a division between the management of high risk offenders by public probation services and the marketization of services to manage low to medium risk offenders by private, voluntary sector and mutual organisations commissioned by Payment by Results (PbR).

This article will commence with a brief history of IOM. It will then define IOM and consider: the challenges of assessing the additionality of IOM, i.e. what changes to process and interventions have occurred as a result of IOM; the methodologies used to evaluate the impact of IOM and their limitations; the implications of this for the evaluation of IOM and other criminal justice services following the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation; and will consider the risks for IOM arising from the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation.

A brief history of IOM

Senior et al (2011) noted that IOM was (at the time of writing the report) the most developed attempt to operationalize the concept of end to end offender management conceptualised in the ASPIRE model (Grapes et al 2006) produced by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

"At its best an IOM approach aimed to co-ordinate all relevant agencies to deliver interventions for offenders identified as warranting intensive engagement, whatever their statutory status. It also sought to ensure, by support and disruption (of potential further offending), the continued commitment by offenders to engage in interventions offered with the express purpose of reducing further offending." (Senior et al 2011: i)

IOM sought to replicate for targeted groups of adult offenders what had been mandated for youth justice, through the establishment of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. YOTs comprised multi-agency teams drawn from: social services, police, probation, health and voluntary and community sector agencies (VCS). Teams were co-located and provided multi-agency case management of young offenders. The development of IOM at the pioneer sites (Senior et al 2011) was informed by: resettlement strategies to improve and co-ordinate provision for short term sentenced prisoners (under 12 months) released from custody; criticisms of the silo mentality between probation and prison services identified by Carter (2003); the concept of 'Custody Plus' in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which was intended to offer provision to short term sentenced prisoners; and the development of multi-agency planning and interventions based on seven reducing re-offending pathways.

During the IOM pioneer initiative which ran from 2008 to 2011 the Home Office acquired the lead responsibility within Government for IOM. This is something of an anomaly. Overall responsibility for offender management lies with the MoJ which now oversees prison, probation and youth justice services. IOM represents a good example of the tensions inherent in splitting the responsibility for criminal justice policy across these two competing Government departments. …

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