Promoting a more responsive criminal justice system

Designing and delivering new services 

Understanding how offenders, ex-offenders and their families can influence services and policies that affect them is a challenge for criminal justice policy makers. It was a challenge they decided could be investigated through user involvement research.

The User Involvement Taskforce

This new task force examining how offenders, ex-offenders and their families could take a more proactive role was established by CLINKS. Specialists in supporting the offender rehabilitation work of the voluntary sector, CLINKS chose Qa to conduct qualitative research designed to inform the future development of this initiative.

Discussion groups with ex-offenders and offenders then serving custodial sentences were initially held to:

  • explore ways to promote more involvement in sentence planning and resettlement activities
  • assess any benefits and barriers to greater involvement
  • evaluate whether the initiative would contribute to a reduction in the likelihood and scale of re-offending
  • and establish whether greater family involvement might reduce re-offending rates

In-depth telephone interviews were then conducted with ex-offenders and family members of those who were serving or had served a custodial sentence.

Developing the Taskforce

Since the purpose of the research was to investigate how offenders, ex-offenders and their families could take a more proactive role in the sentence planning and resettlement process, the discussion groups proved an invaluable opportunity for participants and their families to articulate the actions they believed could affect their chances of re-offending.

The User Involvement Taskforce report, Unlocking Potential, based on research conducted by Angela Browne, was launched on 10th June 2008. The report is now informing the future development of the criminal justice system.

For more details e-mail angela.browne@qaresearch.co.uk or call 01904 632039