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"Critically debate whether the principle of integrity of professional delivery is more important than the principles of responsivity, risk and criminogenic need?"

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Introduction

"Critically debate whether the principle of integrity of professional delivery is more important than the principles of responsivity, risk and criminogenic need?" The pessimism of a nothing works epoch caused an increase in political pressure upon the probation service to demonstrate their effectiveness at reducing recidivism of offenders; a practice the service had hitherto been resistant to execute. From research emerged the governmental effective practice initiative, 'what works', demonstrating a reflection of such a political expectation. This discussion will enlarge upon the background to these developments, before moving on to investigate the significant features that form the what works ethos. This will pay particular attention to the four principles of responsivity, risk, criminogenic need and integrity. The contribution of each of the concepts within the National Probation Service, predominantly in relation to accredited programmes and professional practice will be examined. The author will investigate possible clashes between the principles This debate will serve to critically question whether integrity holds a more substantial importance to the paradigm than the others. During the 1970's, evaluation of probation interventions commenced, which led to the now famous rhetoric, attributed to Robert Martinson, that 'nothing works' in producing an appreciative effect on reducing offenders' criminal behaviour. ...read more.

Middle

implicitly states that each PSR shall contain 'an assessment of the offenders likelihood of re-offending... an assessment of the offenders risk of causing serious harm to the public...[and] identify any risks of self harm'. Risk predictions are generated using 'second generation' tools, such as the Home Office Offender Group Reconviction Score (OGRS), providing an actuarial estimate of the proportion of offenders with a particular profile who will be reconvicted, relying on static factors (Chui and Nellis, 2003. p. 167). However, Brown and Stephens (2001) ask 'does it generate reliable predictions?...In practice-it may not'. Third generation assessments have now been developed, such as the Offender Assessment System (OASys). This tool looks at both static and dynamic factors of offending, which enable interventions to be targeted more specifically. However, the tool will not produce a comprehensive assessment itself - assessment of risk of harm and dangerousness is not an exact science (Furniss and Nutley, 2000). It could be stated that this ambiguity in assessment can further damage the argument for risk being more important than integrity. 'Risk' is used to mean both probability of reconviction and danger of harmful violent offences. Confusion can set in if the offender has a high probability of one of these risks and low probability of the other (Raynor and Vanstone, 2002. ...read more.

Conclusion

The same programme delivered badly saw a reconviction rate of 48%. Paradoxically, a matched group that failed to attend the programme reconvicted at a rate of 40%. 'The message is clear, unless a programme is delivered by trained staff according to the manual, it is likely to be ineffective.' (Furniss and Nutley, 2000). This critical debate has focused upon the emergence of the what works era and there can be little doubt that we are seeing the re-emergence of treatment ethos in working with offenders. (Hollin, 1995. p.207). Expectation of evaluation is summarised as an established necessity. In examining each of the four concepts in question, it is possible to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. Without risk and needs assessment, it would be impossible to discover the correct intervention required for each offender. Responsivity demands that the intervention designed is matched for every offender, to ensure that the learning outcome of the work undertaken is possible and beneficial. Without integrity, programmes would have a lower level of success in reducing criminal behaviour of offenders. On this subject, Chapman and Hough (1998. p.17) exclaim 'what prevents [what works] disintegrating into anarchy and chaos is integrity'. However, the key facts of the what works initiative is the important understanding that each of the principles has an equal part to play, to combine for effective interventions to be implemented successfully. ...read more.

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