College hosts key event about justice system practices

On Wednesday 14th December 2016, the College of Law and Criminology hosted an exciting and informative day of sharing learning and exchanging knowledge on innovative approaches to evaluating practices in the justice system.

The event was funded by the ESRC/Wales DTC through its cross/interdisciplinary small grant scheme and was organised by Dr Pamela Ugwudike, Director of the Swansea Service Evaluation team (SSET) and Senior Lecturer in Criminology.

The symposium’s objective was to exchange knowledge of research-based and innovative approaches to evaluating frontline supervision practices in the justice system. It was an interdisciplinary event that brought together managers, practitioners, and policy makers working in the youth and adult justice systems, and academics/researchers from criminological, psychological and other disciplines, who are involved in evaluations of criminal justice practice.

The presentations and interactive sessions explored how attendees can work together to develop collaborative research projects around these key themes:

  • creating innovative evaluation methods;
  • identifying evaluation approaches that contribute to positive outcomes for service users and the wider public;
  • promoting evaluation responsivity;
  • devising participatory evaluation methods that engage practitioners and managers in the design and application of evaluation tools.

SSET Symposium collage

Presentations and interactive sessions

The presentations and interactive sessions addressed these themes and emphasized the importance of research-based evaluations that seek to bridge the gaps between research evidence and frontline practice.

In keeping with the symposium’s interdisciplinary agenda and the key theme of ‘creating innovative evaluation methods’, Dr Pamela Ugwudike and Mr Kelvin Jones (Managing Director of Accelero Digital Ltd) presented papers on cyber-evaluation technology. The papers focused on their collaborative project which involves the creation of an innovative cyber-evaluation package that practitioners, researchers and others can use to identify research-based practice skills.

Another paper that addressed a key theme of the symposium which is the issue of evaluation responsivity, was co-written by Ian Barrow (Deputy Director, National Offender Management service in Wales) and delivered by Eleanor Worthington (Project Manager, Integrated Offender Management Cymru) with input from Professor Mike Maguire (Emeritus Professor of Criminology, University of South Wales). In their paper, they set out the unique benefits of evaluating the IOM strategy in Welsh policy and practice settings. The IOM strategy is a national strategy that focuses on multiagency approaches to working with people who are undertaking court orders. Its primary aim is to integrate research evidence into the planning and delivery of services.

In his keynote speech, Dusty Kennedy, the Director of the Youth Justice Board in Wales (YJB Cymru), gave a very insightful analysis of YJB Cymru’s commitment to developing and evaluating research-based strategies that can enhance service delivery in welsh youth justice contexts.

The presentations and interactive sessions were followed by a question and answer session which allowed the attendees to pose questions to a panel of academics/researchers involved in evaluation research, and criminal justice managers. Professor Peter Raynor (Emeritus Research Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Swansea University) chaired the session. Much of the discussion centred on the importance of developing collaborative research projects that canbridge the gaps between relevant research and frontline criminal justice practice.

Summary 

In summary, the symposium contributed to knowledge of strategies that can innovate evaluation research in criminal justice settings. Importantly, the event provided the opportunity for the Swansea Service Evaluation Team to forge links with key criminal justice agencies and organisations. The Team will build on these links and we have already scheduled meetings with some attendees who are key representatives of three organisations, namely the National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NACRO), a Youth Offending Service, and the Forensic Psychiatric Service at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. The meetings will explore possible research collaborations.  

Feedback from attendees

Anonymous feedback from attendees included: 

"A useful exchange of ideas and understanding of some of the research projects that are under way. I gained some useful insights and refreshed thoughts around evidence-based practice. Please do another – we need these dialogues." 

"A good overview of youth justice system in Wales and how evaluation and monitoring fits in. As I am developing projects/partnerships from NACRO Wales, I will embed this learning."

Feedback on Twitter

"Our CPO (Chief Probation Officer) spent a useful day last Wednesday at Swansea University Symposium on innovative approaches to evaluating practice in the criminal justice system…" (Jersey Probation and Aftercare Service, The island of Jersey). 

"Speakers highlighting the importance of bridging gap between academic research and practice to achieve best outcomes #SSET2016" (Gibran UK Ltd).