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Offenders in focus

Offenders in focus: Risk, responsivity and diversity

Kathryn Farrow
Gill Kelly
Bernadette Wilkinson
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Offenders in focus
    Book Description:

    A great deal has been written about developing effective practice against a backdrop of rapid change in criminal justice services. Much of this is research-oriented and not always accessible to practitioners in their day-to-day work. This book changes that. Drawing on research and integrating this with practitioner experience, the book creates fresh, research-based 'practice wisdom' for engaging effectively with offenders. It explores issues of risk, responsivity and diversity in the context of work with specific offender and offending behaviour groups as a means to highlight those skills and understandings which can be used across the wider range of work environments. The authors break down complex ideas to enable practical application, and each chapter includes questions for reflection and practice development. With its accessible style, balancing academic rigour with clear pointers to best practice, this book will interest everyone working face to face with offenders. It recognises that there are no instant solutions to changing offending behaviour but provides a practice text that will encourage a sense of competence and confidence, enhancing readers' skill and enthusiasm when working with a broad spectrum of offenders.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-246-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of figures
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-vi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Welcome to this book about face-to-face work with offenders. It connects research and theory with practice, and explores how the key concepts of risk, responsivity and diversity can be applied in practice. By presenting ideas in an accessible form, it seeks to create a new ‘practice wisdom’ for engaging effectively with offenders.

    The development of the concept of effective practice has revolutionised how offenders are worked with. With this development has come the recognition of the need for consistency and accountability in the way that services are delivered and offenders are managed. At the same time there has been a...

  6. Part One Context

    • ONE The changing face of practice
      (pp. 7-14)

      There has been an evolution of face-to-face work with offenders over the past century, as understandings of practice have altered and become more complex and as the world within which that practice occurs has developed. Philosophical, theoretical and organisational contexts have changed (see Chui and Nellis, 2003) but, throughout all of those changes, the responsibility to work with individual offenders, who are often flawed human beings, leading chaotic lives, has remained a constant.

      This chapter primarily focuses on the development of practice with adult offenders, but the authors acknowledge that equally farreaching changes have taken place in how society views...

    • TWO Key concepts
      (pp. 15-28)

      Risk, responsivity and diversity, the key concepts covered in this book, can help practitioners from a variety of contexts whose task it is to contribute to the reduction of offending behaviour. The hope is that such a reduction will be in the best interests of victims, of society and of the offenders themselves. In fact, this simple idea contains within it layers of complexity, in considering how to achieve this end, while balancing sometimes competing demands and responsibilities.

      In a discussion of the goals of rehabilitation for mentally disordered offenders, Blackburn (2004) differentiates between reintegration, where the service provider is...

  7. Part Two Diversity: explores the issue of working with differences

    • THREE Women offenders
      (pp. 31-52)

      In 1981, one of the authors and two colleagues set up a social skills group for women, adapting materials designed for young male offenders written by Priestley and McGuire (1978). One participant commented:

      We would all like the group to continue with more proper discussions … and less silly games now that we all know each other. (Unpublished evaluation, 1981)

      In 2006, anecdotal feedback from practitioners delivering programmes aiming to cater for women, either as part of a predominantly male group or in a women-only context, highlighted how little had changed in 25 years:

      We don’t have any women’s groups...

    • FOUR Young people who offend
      (pp. 53-76)

      Offending is often associated with younger members of the community, predominantly young adults (McNeill and Batchelor, 2004). Much of the original research into ‘What Works’ was conducted upon cohorts of male offenders between the ages of 17 and 21 (Roberts, 1989; Andrews et al, 1990; Lipsey, 1992). Evidence-based practice, therefore, started with young offenders, and those age-specific principles have, ironically, been applied widely across the adult offender population.

      In this chapter youth will be loosely defined as young people between the ages of 10(the age of criminal responsibility) and 21 (the point at which young offenders formally enter the adult...

    • FIVE ‘Race’ and culture
      (pp. 77-98)

      Making a risk assessment about an offender requires the assessor to gather information about potential risk factors and to think about how those factors interact with each other, and with the behaviour of concern (Baker, 2006). As considered in Chapter Two, risk factors are based on findings about groups of offenders; being those variables that have been found to be associated with the likelihood of offending behaviour (McGuire, 2002b). The precise causal connections for any individual offender have to be considered for that individual in context (Kemshall et al, 2006). This process is not unproblematic because of the danger that,...

  8. Part Three Responsivity: examines the complexities of working with offenders who have other significant problems

    • SIX Mental disorder
      (pp. 101-122)

      Many studies identify the prevalence of mental disorder amongst prisoners and other offenders (Hodgins, 2000; Lynch and Skinner, 2004). People who develop major mental disorders are more likely than those without such disorders to commit criminal offences. However, the link between offending and mental disorder is unclear and offending is not necessarily a consequence of mental disorder.

      McInerney and Minne (2004: 43) suggest that “mentally disordered offenders have special problems; their offending places them apart from other psychiatric patients and major mental disorder separates them from most offenders”. The populist tendency to see crimes committed by people who are either...

    • SEVEN Substance misuse
      (pp. 123-142)

      The individual quoted above fits a common perception of the substance-misusing offender: the heroin or crack cocaine user who engages in offending to fund a drug habit. This chapter seeks to explore in more depth what is known about the extent to which the misuse of drugs and/or alcohol is associated with offending behaviour and what is the nature of that association. The answers to those questions are more complex than might at first appear and will be used to suggest some practice implications for those working with substance misuse in a criminal justice context.

      In order to make judgements...

    • EIGHT Basic skills
      (pp. 143-162)

      There is widespread agreement across the developed world that links exist between poor educational achievement, unemployment and criminal recidivism (see, for example, the work of the European Offender Employment Forum which brings these threads together). In the UK, offender assessment tools, relating to both adult and juvenile offenders, identify education, training and employment as one of a range of potential offence-related needs requiring exploration and assessment. Once a practitioner has identified such needs in relation to a specific individual, these may then be addressed through employment and/or literacy and numeracy programmes tailored to the particular circumstances of offenders. For young...

  9. Part Four Risk: tackles the issue of responding to offenders who illustrate different aspects of risk

    • NINE Violent offenders
      (pp. 165-192)

      Working with violent offenders can be professionally exciting, offering real opportunities to understand, and potentially change, complex human behaviours. At the same time, work with violent offenders can be daunting. It carries with it an associated responsibility to protect the public from harm, in a culture that is increasingly risk focused, where that responsibility is carried out in a changing and pressured organisational context.

      This challenge is increased because violent offending is so diverse. As Bush (1995) points out, criminal violence is not generally an isolated and distinct form of criminal behaviour. Many violent offenders engage in other types of...

    • TEN Property offenders
      (pp. 193-214)

      These statements are very typical of what offenders say when asked to account for an offence. They frequently see offending as spontaneous events which happen without reason. However, while acquisitive crime, like most offending, has elements of impulsiveness, it is rarely an isolated act:

      Most criminologists would agree that crimes are rarely random events, that there are patterns of victimisation and also offending that is often the result of rational decisionmaking that reflects offenders’ perceptions and attitudes towards risks and rewards. (Kapardis and Krambia-Kapardis, 2004: 190)

      If practitioners accept too readily the offender’s account of the theft or burglary as...

  10. Part Five Conclusions

    • ELEVEN Evaluating and ending well
      (pp. 217-228)

      One of the authors, remembering their early years as a newly qualified probation officer in the 1980s, recounts that on their ‘patch’ there were many Asian boys, aged 14 to 15, getting into offending. Supervising them as a White female seemed remote and unhelpful so they felt a group work approach might be more effective. After finding an Asian male social worker to co-work the group, approval was sought from local managers. They asked how much it would cost, decided the budget could afford it and left the author and co-worker to get on and plan the programme.

      With hindsight...

    • TWELVE Return to concepts
      (pp. 229-234)

      This final chapter sums up the key ideas about risk, responsivity and diversity, spelling out the messages for practice along the way. It sets the reader a number of challenges to take forward in their own development and also in one-to-one work with offenders.

      InPart One, the book introduces the concepts of risk, responsivity and diversity, having briefly charted the changing nature of face-to-face work with offenders. It notes the move away from faith-driven approaches and highly individualised practice towards a more organisationally accountable approach to service delivery and the development of the concept of evidence-based practice. Standardised approaches...

  11. References
    (pp. 235-264)
  12. Index
    (pp. 265-274)