Civil Service World, 28 April 2016

Researcher Eleonora Harwich wrote an article in Civil Service World, after the launch of Reform‘s report on Unlocking prison performance.

She argued that there are hurdles that need to be overcome to create effective prison performance tables, which was a key objective laid out in the Prime Minister’s speech on prison reform in early 2016. This includes the fact that there is no performance mechanism that takes into account reoffending rates; the availability and quality of prison data is inadequate, hindering analysis of prison performance; and standard metrics used by the Ministry of Justice are too narrowly focused on what is easily measurable. She highlighted recent findings in Reform‘s report (on analysis of category B and C male prisons) of widely varying performances in efficiency and effectiveness. Narrowing the performance gap between institutions would deliver better value for the taxpayer and improve outcomes for prisoners.

“Cameron’s vision of autonomous prisons held to account for delivering against defined outcomes is welcome. High performing prisons should be identified and learnt from, poor performing prisons should be subject to intervention. This will require a step change in the way performance is measured – and a dramatic improvement in data quality. The prime minister has put the prison estate on a challenging path, but the prize for success is improved lives, safer communities and lower costs.”

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Read the full article here.