In the Media

Taxpayers benefit from Manchester's non-custodial scheme

PUBLISHED April 12, 2012

An independent audit suggests that society is getting back £1.20 for every pound spent on a scheme to turn round 'low risk' criminal offenders in Greater Manchester.

The savings add up in reduced benefits payments, fewer calls on the health service and reduced police time, thanks to the Manchester?and Salford Intensive Alternative to Custody.

The pilot initiative which began in April 2009 and ran for two years until the end of March last year was organised by Greater Manchester Probation Trust. Funded by the Ministry of Justice, it aimed to develop a 'credible and effective alternative to custody.'

Those helped were Manchester and Salford young people aged 18 to 25 who appeared in court and would normally gave been given under than 12 months for their offence. Instead they were sentenced to an intensive 12-month community order including mentoring from Work Solutions, a not-for-profit company in Greater Manchester which specialises in such things as social and personal?development and matching the skills and employment needs of people and employers.

The objectives were summarised as 'controll, change and integrate' through:

Diverting people from short term custody
Reducing re-offending with a difficult offender group
Developing new partnerships to deliver interventions
Increasing confidence in community sentences

The key methods were:

Tailored interventions for each offender
Intensive supervision
Enhanced monitoring
30 hours pw week activity + curfew
Accredited Programme
Unpaid work
Court reviews progress
Swift sanction for non-compliance

The cost benefit analysis and qualitative evaluation of the scheme has been carried out by New Economy, the agency tasked with creating economic regeneration in Greater Manchester. It finds that:

More than 20% of those who completed an IAC order during the pilot subsequently found employment.

Evidence suggests that mentoring works best when delivered jointly with other interventions and that mentors need to meet with offenders on a regular basis in order to produce the best possible outcomes.

The characteristics associated with successful mentoring programmes are clearly shown in Work Solutions' element of the Greater Manchester IAC.

Julian Cox, head of cost benefit analysis at New Economy, says:

Working with analysts from ten central government departments including HM Treasury, we have developed an efficient approach to cost benefit analysis for public policy.? These tools allow us to better understand the value for money of new approaches to delivering public services.

The data within this cost benefit analysis demonstrates that Greater Manchester's IAC pilot has been a huge success, highlighting that significant return of 20% on every pound spent.? This is just the initial phase of the study.? We are now getting data showing a positive impact on the likelihood and severity of reoffending.? We will be adding this to the analysis and believe that this will show an even stronger business case for the IAC approach.

Dave McDonald, operations manager at Work Solutions, says:

We are pleased with the success of the project as it proves that providing intensive support?for offenders in the community, who would have otherwise received a custodial sentence?is effective in changing?lives, providing employment and makes good economic sense.

You can read the full report here There were six other pilots and an evaluation of all seven done for the Ministry of Justice by Sheffield Hallam University and Greater Manchester Probation Trust is here.