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Do alcohol interventions in a criminal justice setting reduce reoffending?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 in Blog

With anti social behaviour being in pretty much every prospective Police and Crime Commissioners ‘top things to focus on’ list, and with alcohol consumption being a key factor in a significant amount of said anti social behaviour, the recently released Home Office Research Report Number 60 makes for topical interesting reading and provides some useful practical evidence about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to alcohol intervention strategies.

The report is a summary of findings from two evaluations of Home Office Alcohol Arrest Referral pilot schemes which were set up across 12 police forces over the period Oct 2007 to Sept 2010 to test whether providing brief alcohol interventions in a criminal justice setting could impact reoffending. Interesting stuff when the ‘something must be done’ argument gets trotted out on a public platform somewhere near you.

The reports key findings are that:

‘Overall the evaluations did not suggest that AAR schemes reduced re-arrest. Average costs per intervention across the pilot schemes varied from £62 to £826, but most schemes did not break even as they did not reduce re-arrests overall’.

The variations in cost and the failure to break even being no small matters in the new ‘age of austerity’.

‘Over one-half of those arrested for alcohol-related offending within the pilot schemes had not been arrested in the six months prior to the trigger arrest and also were not arrested in the six months following. This suggests that the majority of those arrested within the night-time economy are not prolific offenders, at least in terms of arrest records’.

Implications for there being limited benefit in an offender centric strategy?

‘There was some evidence of reduced alcohol consumption among those who received the intervention, but for a number of reasons this finding should be treated with caution’.

Possible health benefits to bring to the partnership bargaining table?

‘Delivering interventions in a custody setting is possible, but requires good co-operation between custody staff and alcohol workers. Having an established custody scheme in place, such as a Drug Interventions Programme (DIP), may smooth the way for delivery and could have potential cost savings if workers could be used for both alcohol and drugs work’.

But are the interventions worth the effort?

The report makes for interesting reading. You will find it on the Open Eye website

Related posts:

  1. Reform of the criminal justice system
  2. Home Office takes responsibility for alcohol licensing and enforcement
  3. PSA 25 – Reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drugs
  4. Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice (Summary)
  5. Confidence in the Criminal Justice System

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