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Shouldn't psychologists do more to tackle the reoffending crisis? [Letter]

Shepherd, Jonathan Paul and Shepherd, Iona 2008. Shouldn't psychologists do more to tackle the reoffending crisis? [Letter]. The Psychologist 21 (5) , p. 446.

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Compared with the wealth of evidence relating to effectiveness of treatment and prevention interventions that is produced in healthcare, evidence production with regard to the effectiveness of interventions delivered in probation and prison services to reduce reoffending is very low (Shepherd, 2007). This is surprising, since rehabilitation of offenders is now, rightly, a major priority both for government and the public. Prisons are overcrowded, costs are very substantial and escalating and, according to hospital admission rates, the severity of violence is increasing. What little reliable evidence there is very largely supports psychological interventions. Cognitive behavioural and other psychological interventions are now known to be cost-effective means to reduce re-offending. For example, prison with behavioural, educational, drug or sex offender interventions as appropriate, has been shown to be more effective in reducing reoffending and less costly for tax payers than prison alone (Matrix Knowledge Group, 2007). However, there is not yet anything like enough reliance on psychology. Very often, probation staff and trainees do not have the necessary scientific background and only basic knowledge of psychology. Rather, there is reliance on the traditional, evidence-light, science-challenged, social work approach to probation. Furthermore, probation science or offender management science (our terms) do not appear to be established disciplines in psychology schools in research-led (Russell Group) universities as medical science is for example – which explains the comparative famine of evidence. Therefore, shouldn’t efforts to reduce reoffending include rooting the training of probation staff in first division schools of psychology, based perhaps on a new BSc? Further, shouldn’t offender management science be a specialty of psychology? Taking these steps would surely increase the production, dissemination and implementation in practice of reliable evidence of effectiveness. The tendering process for probation training, following the Offender Management Act 2007, will, if these proposals find favour, provide many opportunities for psychologists to lead these reforms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Publisher: The British Psychological Society
ISSN: 0952-8229
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:03

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