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.

Latest Criminal Justice Projects

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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Chance to change pilots qualitative study

In partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, PERU researchers are undertaking a qualitative study on the views and experiences of participants in the Chance to Change pilots.

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