PERU’s Criminal Justice research focuses on developing innovative approaches to reducing reoffending and managing people with convictions. The following case studies demonstrate the impact of this research in three key areas: Innovations in Rehabilitation, Women in Prison and Youth Justice:

PERU has earned a strong reputation throughout the criminal justice system (CJS) for partnering with key organisations and developing groundbreaking rehabilitative strategies and interventions geared towards reducing reoffending and the effective and humane management of people with convictions.  

In 2019, PERU was commissioned by the HM Inspectorate of Probation to undertake a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of the effectiveness of remote supervision approaches and emerging technologies for the management and rehabilitation of probation service users. The evaluation proved pivotal insofar as PERU cautioned against employing technological interventions without first establishing a clearer evidence base, paving the way for further empirical research to inform public sector reform.

Between 2012 and 2020, PERU worked with the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) Interserve in order to evaluate new models of managing people with convictions. This partnership led to the groundbreaking development of the assessment tool Enablers of Change. The tool is designed to assess the risks, needs, strengths and protective factors of adults with convictions. A formative evaluation by PERU highlighted its potentially revolutionary applications in probation, whilst further analysis magnified the potentially international significance of an assessment tool that captures crucial information about people with convictions that is otherwise neglected. As a result of this work, since 2022 PERU has been a member of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service reference group advising on the development of a new assessment system to replace OASys.

PERU positions itself at the forefront of rehabilitative policy research with cutting-edge approaches to tackling pressing issues in the delivery of criminal justice. In 2021, PERU teamed with Queen’s University Belfast to investigate the provocative issue of the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the CJS. The study addresses controversies surrounding the use of CBT in the CJS, such as how its practice focuses only narrowly on criminogenic factors, and considers the policy implications.

PERU also hosts, manages and publishes the British Journal of Community Justice (BJCJ). The BJCJ is a vehicle for advancing the community and criminal justice evidence base both nationally and internationally.  

PERU has partnered with a range of key stakeholders across the criminal justice system (CJS) in order to produce evidence-based approaches and interventions that target the needs of vulnerable and hard to reach groups, including women with convictions. 

In 2018, PERU undertook an impact evaluation of the support services provided by the Greater Manchester Women’s Support Alliance (GMWSA). The GMWSA aims to reduce the number of custodial sentences amongst women involved in the CJS, championing preventative measures and alternatives to incarceration. PERU’s evaluation foregrounded the lived experiences of the women accessing these services, and included a reconviction study using Police National Computer (PNC) data in order to explore the longitudinal benefits of the GMWSA. 

Starting from 2015 and extending into 2022, PERU has played an instrumental role in the evaluation and development of the Whole System Approach (WSA) towards managing women with convictions. The WSA is a holistic approach that aims to assess women’s needs at first point of contact with the CJS and throughout their journey through the system. PERU conducted a process, impact and economic analysis of the Greater Manchester WSA, culminating in a final evaluation report published in May 2018. PERU’s research contributed significantly to the evidence base surrounding the WSA, and has since been embraced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in support of public service reform.

Building on the Greater Manchester WSA evaluation, in 2021 PERU teamed with the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in order to investigate the experiences of women accessing WSA services provided by Advance and Women in Prison. This project further expands PERU’s ambition to generate timely, evidence-based research to inform policy surrounding women who come into contact with the CJS.

PERU works across the criminal justice system (CJS) with a variety of policy makers and stakeholders in order to improve rehabilitative strategies and enhance efforts to reduce reoffending. Central to this endeavour is work on youth diversion. 

In 2017, PERU undertook a process evaluation of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Pathway initiative. The programme, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, works with young adults at different stages of the CJS process in an effort to reduce offending and breach rates and produce improved social outcomes for stakeholders. PERU’s final process evaluation report helped to highlight the factors that led to young adults involved in T2A coming into contact with the CJS, and made a significant contribution to the evidence base that has led to real world change.  

In 2019, PERU joined the Evaluation Panel of the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF). Since then, PERU has worked with the YEF alongside the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies (MCYS) on a variety of projects including four youth diversion project evaluations. This, alongside ongoing collaborative relationships with other What Works Network centres such as the Centre for Homelessness Impact, establishes PERU as a major contributor to the What Works agenda. 

PERU strives to produce pioneering, timely research that targets issues of international significance. Highlights include a 2020 study linking the use of theoretical principles drawn from information science research to the improvement of educational preventing violent extremism (EPVE) programmes for young people. The study offers a groundbreaking perspective that strengthens the evidence-base for counter-radicalisation policy in the UK and worldwide.

Estimating the effect of crime (maps) on house prices using a natural experiment

Dr. Monsuru Adepeju (PERU) worked alongside Dr. Meng Le Zhang of University of Sheffield to investigate the impact of public crime information on house prices in England and Wales, leveraging the geomasking in online crime maps as a natural experiment.

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A Rapid Evidence Assessment to assess the outcomes of community and custody delivered vocational training and employment programmes on reoffending

PERU were partially funded by the Ministry of Justice to undertake a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) to assess the outcomes of community and custody delivered vocational training and employment programmes on reoffending.

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Estimating the effect of crime (maps) on house prices using a natural experiment

This project leverages features associated with the geomasking algorithm to estimate the effect of public crime statistics on house prices.

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Chance to Change Pilot Evaluation

The scheme to defer the prosecution of low-level offenders has highlighted key benefits, including avoiding criminalisation and associated negative social impact, but has demonstrated challenges, such as addressing racial disparities.

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Care Experience, Ethnicity and Youth Justice Involvement: Key Trends and Policy Implications

This briefing is based on descriptive findings from an ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) Research Fellowship project

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‘We Need to Tackle Their Well Being First’: Understanding and Supporting Care-Experienced Girls in the Youth Justice System

This article presents novel findings from interviews with 17 girls and young women and eight Youth Offending Team (YOT) staff, highlighting how being in care can affect offending behaviour and how YOTs may provide support to care-experienced girls who have been inadequately supported elsewhere.

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Confronting intergenerational harm: Care experience, motherhood and criminal justice involvement

This paper explores how criminalisation, care experience and motherhood may intersect to produce multi-faceted structural disadvantage within both systems of care and punishment.

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A Difficult Balance: Challenges and Possibilities for Local Protocols to Reduce Unnecessary Criminalisation of Children in Care and Care Leavers

This article explores the challenges and possibilities of using local agreements to divert children in care and care leavers away from formal justice systems contact.

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