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1 - The term what works refers to the basis that research...

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The term ‘what works’ refers to the basis that research and programme evaluation has shown that some interventions for offenders, can have a positive effect on reducing recidivism (McGuire and Priestley, 1995. p 165) ‘What works’ approaches work closely with evidence based practices and is a contemporary approach to allow practioners to work with a proven basis for interventions and which can help encourage greater consistency within the criminal justice system. As a result, practioners are able to make better and more informed decisions about programmes and allows a further ability to engage youths in interventions to maximise programme effectiveness (Hopkins-Burke, 2008. p 180). In 1974 Robert Martinson (p 6) declared that ‘nothing works’ after conducting meta-analysis studies of criminal behaviour, Martinson believed that there was no clear trends to support the idea that any intervention was in fact effective. Although Martinson later acknowledged that his survey may have had poor quality design which may have prevented successful interventions, in recent years there has been some consensus amongst practioners that some interventions do not appear to work. Martinson in fact paved the way for a reform of the criminal justice system with new interventions and a restored faith in correctional ideologies for individual treatments and rehabilitation (McGuire, 1995. p 460). The ‘what works’ approach must follow particular processes and procedures in an attempt to be successful (Home Office, 1999. p 205). This includes the Page 1 of 8 Word Count: 1857
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idea that the level of intervention should match the risk of offending (Andrews and Bonta, 2002. p 173). The more serious and higher risk offenders require more intensive and more extensive interventions (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2006. p 342). Andrews and Bonta (2002. p 173) believe that in order to maximise the impact of treatment then intervention should match the needs of the offender and their learning styles. Interventions that target the needs of the offender will have the greatest effect in reducing recidivism (McGuire, 2002. p 460) and Hollins (1999. p 165) suggests that if the offender is engaged in the programme then it will increase the potential for a reduction in re-offending. ‘What works’ and who must be targeted is calculated on a risk principle, since 2000 the introduction of the Offender Assessment System has led to a more consistent and comprehensive assessment of risk than older systems (Raynor et al, 2000. p 16). Risk factors that are considered include those such as poverty, criminal history and family background and are believed to increase the chances of an individual committing an offence (Goldblatt and Lewis, 1998. p 205). This idea is supported by Farrington (1997. p 460) who believes that the impact of individuals’ risk factors will influence offenders’ behaviour and their persistence of offending over time.
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