All Aboard for a Social Impact Journey Get The Data

All Aboard for a Social Impact Journey

Jack, Jay and I were delighted to host our London social impact seminar last week. We are very grateful to all who took the time to join us and contribute their thoughts and experiences.  As with every good seminar the learning was a two-way process. So, we talked about the social impact journeys we have been travelling on with our clients but also learned from our guests’ experiences of making a social impact.

All Aboard for a Social Impact Journey Get The Data

In introducing the seminar I noted that everyone in the room had a common cause: to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in society. Most of the attendees represented national and London-based organisations that are concerned with mental health, homelessness and young people.  As always, Jack, Jay and I were struck by the commitment and deep knowledge that our guests brought to their work.  So what, asked one attendee, was our interest in working with these groups? A great question and my answer was straightforward: my colleagues and I simply want to provide our analytical expertise to demonstrate the value of our clients’ work.

Talk about data and analyses can often seem abstract and there is a danger that it might reduce vital work with vulnerable people to a calculus of efficiency and effectiveness. To avoid that, we were able to tell stories of how our work has helped other organizations to measure their impact, learn how to improve their services and demonstrate the success of their programmes.  Sometimes our work is used to demonstrate the value of a policy change or justify funding, but often our work simply helps managers and front-line workers think about their practice and keep track of the various services and activities that they deliver.

A valid concern that arose was how to avoid treating a vulnerable person as a unit of analyses rather than an individual with real needs and wants. This concern included how best to engage vulnerable people in the analyses to ensure that they can provide their voice and experiences.  This is a very current topic in the practice of evaluation.  For GtD’s part, we ensure that our work with vulnerable people is undertaken sensitively and in accordance with ethical standards, and that the processes of data collection and analyses do not further marginalize individuals and groups who have been excluded by institutions and society at large.

All Aboard for a Social Impact Journey Get The Data

 

In concluding the seminar, I reflected that the best social impact journey is one that is taken together.  The success of the journey will require trust and mutual respect between the analysts, workers and clients. I believe that the stories we told last week provide good illustrations of how GtD forge working relationships within which to deliver expert analyses and insight.

A New Year’s Resolution?

A New Year’s Resolution?

New Year’s Eve, and time to take a moment to make a resolution for 2020.  Last year, according to the Statistica website, 71% of Americans resolved to diet and eat better in 2019 with a further 65% intending to exercise more.  It is not unexpected, perhaps, that 8% of those making resolutions failed to keep it within hours of the New Year being rung in, but a whopping 16% claimed to have kept their resolution for two to four months!

New Year’s resolutions are about making changes and adopting better habits. They are often personal in nature, but have you thought of making a New Year’s resolution for your organization? In the course of 2019, have you ever wondered how to measure the difference your organization is making on society?  As we peer into 2020, are you curious to see how your organization can improve the services it delivers to your clients? Is it now time to get the evidence to demonstrate your organization’s impact – definitely?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes”, then come along to our free seminar on Wednesday, 8th January in London and learn more about “Measuring” your activities; “Learning” how to make a real difference; and, “Proving” your impact definitively.  For more details and how to book your place for this event, please go to http://bit.ly/SocialImpactSeminar.

Resolve to make 2020 the year you and your organization improves its social impact – and be sure that GtD will be with you every step of the way so that this will be one resolution you will keep.

Join us for a social impact journey seminar

Book Your Winter Getaway – Now!

The holiday season seems to be a time for journeying. As the school nativity plays remind us, the first Christmas saw the little donkey carry Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and the “star of wonder” led the Three Wise Men to the stable. Today, thousands of British and American travelers will drive and fly home to be with family for the holidays.  And, no sooner is the festive period over, than hundreds of us will be heading to the ski slopes and beaches for a dose of much-needed sunlight. Winter is, indeed, a time for journeying.

At this time GtD’s London-based team invite you to join us on a journey. Unlike the Winter Getaways you see advertised in the press and television, we are offering to take you on a journey to understand your organization’s impact on the communities and people it serves.  At GtD we call this your “social impact journey” and we will travel with you to gather data, unlock its meaning and use it to demonstrate the effectiveness of your work.  Each of these is a stopping point on a single journey.

If you are interested in learning more, then you are warmly invited to join a free seminar on Wednesday, 8th January in London. For more details and how to book your place for this event, please go to http://bit.ly/SocialImpactSeminar.

GtD’s “Winter Getaway” doesn’t promise you golden beaches or pristine snow, but it will give you a good start to the new year as you and your organization embark on your social impact journey.  We look forward to seeing you there.

GtD's Social Impact Packages

Are you ready to embark on your social impact journey?

Since we founded GtD in June 2012, Jack and I have worked with many organizations that are on a journey.  A journey of discovery. A journey to measure their social impact – definitively. 

To assist our clients to navigate their social impact journey, we have created three services: “Measure”, “Learn” and “Prove”.  Each of these services is a package of support that will help you gather data, unlock its meaning and use it demonstrate the effectiveness of your work. 

Are you ready to embark on your social impact journey? Get The Data

Each of our Measure, Learn and Prove services are important stages of one journey, but where you embark and disembark is up to you. You can move between them in any order you like, and travel a long or short distance through each.

So how does each service help you navigate your organization to better outcomes?

Are you ready to embark on your social impact journey? Get The Data

Measure

Our Measure package enables you to solve problems and achieve better outcomes for your service users – download our Measure package guide.

Are you ready to embark on your social impact journey? Get The Data

Learn

Would you like to fine-tune your services, predict performance and optimise resources? Our Learn package provides the insights you need – download our Learn package guide.

Are you ready to embark on your social impact journey? Get The Data

Prove

You know the impact your work has. Our Prove package ensures others can see this as clearly as you do. Find out more by downloading our Prove package guide.

Are you ready to embark on your social impact journey? Get The Data

Plus! If you’re in need of a simple way to collect data? Our new ValiDATA tool could be the ideal solution! Based on Microsoft Access and Excel it’s cost effective and very easy to use. Find out more or contact us to arrange a free demonstration.

Jack and I have been journeying with organizations like yours for seven years and it has been greatly rewarding.  With the launch of our new packages, we are inviting you to come on board and work with us to reach your destination of choice. 

Please contact us for further information about how we can support you on your social impact journey and if you would like to arrange a free social impact review.

Closed eye image to illustrate measurement of qualitative data

More Than Eyes Can See? – Measuring Relationships

As our name implies, Get the Data is concerned with collecting and understanding quantitative empirical data. At the expense reprising scholarly debates about objectivity and truth, it is the Western empirical tradition that informs our research and the work of our clients who are engaged in criminal justice policy and practice. In other words, we want to measure things that can be touched, seen and realized by our senses.

Since the early 90s, much of my work has been the production of empirical data on the operation of the criminal justice system. As a young Home Office researcher, I cut my teeth in the back row of Sunderland magistrates’ court counting the reasons for cracked and ineffective trials. And it continued from there: reviewing police counting rules, measuring youth re-offending, tracking the attrition of DNA evidence from a crime scene to conviction in court.

The development of criminal justice policy demands the rigor of these empirical measures. So, I am proud of my colleagues who provide cutting-edge social impact analytics to a range of clients, from the Ministry of Justice and Sodexo Justice Services to smaller not-for-profits who work with offenders, such as Street Soccer Academy and Best for Pets.

That said, I was struck by two guest blogs that we published earlier this year.  Both Ilham Askia and Prof. Darrick Joliffe wrote about the growing interest in understanding the importance of the relationship between public defenders and offender managers and their respective clients.  Understanding the importance of these relationships is a departure from the measurement of objective outcomes that are recorded in either a police custody suite or pronounced in the court, and I am delighted that GtD is at the forefront of this innovative work.

A few years ago, I read “More Than Eyes Can See”, Rhidian Brook’s account of his nine-month journey in Africa, India, China and the U.S. to detail the Salvation Army’s response to the world-wide AIDs pandemic. By his own account, Brook was initially critical of the efficiency and effectiveness of local efforts to bring relief to those with HIV/AIDS and their families who were often ostracized by the community. Slowly he realized that for many there could be no “good” outcome: there is no cure and palliative care is too expensive for the most vulnerable.  So, in his words he admitted that, “I was slow to spot it really – focused as I was on empirical ways of measuring success – but [it was] the small acts of kindness that were holding things together. They weren’t the added extra, the bonus; they were it … After a while I stopped trying to measure the efficiency of these visits and see them for what they were: self-giving, sweaty acts of love”.

Relationships matter, even if just for their own sake. If the relationship between your organization and its clients is important to you, then please contact either Jack or me. We will be happy to discuss our ground-breaking approaches to measuring those things “that the eye cannot see”.

One Year of Transforming Rehabilitation Payment by Results

One Year of Transforming Rehabilitation Payment by Results

Last week, the Government announced the early termination of the CRCs’ contracts. Various bodies have criticised the new probation arrangements and some private companies have made substantial losses because the number of sentences they were asked to manage was lower than anticipated. We expect, therefore, the CRC’s reoffending rates to be poor given this context. My previous blogs after 3 and 6 months of results found the binary rate of reoffending to be down, but the frequency of reoffending to be up (both compared to 2011). This blog reviews what happened after 12 months of payment of by results.

Reoffending rate and frequency

Between Oct 2015 and September 2016, the CRCs collectively supported approximately 108,000 offenders who qualified for payment by results and 45.4% of these reoffended. Of those that reoffending, on average they committed 4.7 offences each. These results compare to an expected reoffending rate of 47.5% (the 2011 baseline rate) and an expected average number of offences of 4.2 (the average recorded 2011). In other words (and as previously concluded), there are fewer offenders but they are committing more offences. Only a handful of CRCs have performed differently to this overall picture.

Figure 1 below describes the reoffending rate recorded in each CRC. The grey circle indicates that CRC’s 2011 baseline reoffending rate.

Figure 1: Adjusted reoffending rate in each CRC (commencements Oct 2015 to Sept 2016)

One Year of Transforming Rehabilitation Payment by Results Get The Data

Source: MoJ Proven Reoffending Statistics

Seventeen of 21 CRCs recorded a reoffending rate lower than the 2011 baseline. Some of the reductions were large – such as the 7% reduction in reoffending recorded in Cumbria and Lancashire. Four CRCs recorded reoffending rates higher than the 2011 baseline (indicated in red in Figure 1). The worst performing CRC was Warwickshire and West Mercia where the reoffending rate was 3% higher than the 2011 baseline.

Figure 2 below describes the average number of reoffences in each CRC (the grey circle indicates the baseline average).

Figure 2: Average number of reoffences in each CRC (commencements Oct 2015 to Sept 2016)

One Year of Transforming Rehabilitation Payment by Results Get The Data

 

Source: MoJ Proven Reoffending Statistics

The general pattern in Figure 2 is the opposite of that shown in Figure 1: Nineteen CRCs recorded an average number of re-offences worse than the 2011 baseline (Durham Tees Valley and South Yorkshire substantially so). Just two CRCs beat the baseline average: Merseyside and Northumbria (the same two CRCs were the only ones to beat the baseline after 6 months).

Actual and expected re-offences

Contrasting results were recorded for the two reoffending indicators used for payment by results – the reoffending rate and average number of reoffences. Only two CRCs [1] recorded results better than 2011 for both indicators. How can we therefore assess the overall performance of the CRCs? A good method is to compare the actual total number of reoffences to the expected total number of reoffences. Across all the CRCs, the actual number of reoffences was 221,220 compared to an expected number of 214,618 (if performance was the same as 2011) – a difference of 6,602 and an increase of 3%. This suggests that overall reoffending performance was slightly worse under Transforming Rehabilitation. Figure 3, however, describes the percentage reduction and increase in the number of offences at each CRC and there was a large range in performance.

[1] Merseyside and Northumbria

One Year of Transforming Rehabilitation Payment by Results Get The Data

Nine CRCs recorded fewer re-offences than were expected. Merseyside was the best performer with a 29% reduction in offences. Northumbria (19%), Cheshire & Greater Manchester (12%) and Cumbria & Lancashire (10%) also recorded large reductions. The remaining 12 CRCs recorded more offences than expected. The increase was as high as 41% in South Yorkshire and 28% in Durham Tees Valley.

Conclusion

The macro trend across all CRCs was for fewer re-offenders but those that did were likely to commit more re-offences than previously. This meant that the CRCs’ recorded a small overall increase in the number of reoffences compared to 2011. Given the difficulties with transforming rehabilitation, the overall results suggest that these probably have not resulted in large increases in reoffending. Local CRC performance can influence results, and that might be why we see wide variation in the number of recorded reoffences compared to the expected number, but these effects were probably small compared to the macro effects. My experience suggests that the police forces are the biggest influence on local reoffending rates and in response to reduced resources many have prioritised high harm and priority offenders – this could explain the macro trends. Any CRC – current or under the future arrangements –  should therefore be fully aware of their local police force’s performance and the PCC’s crime plan.

Blog originally guest posted on http://www.russellwebster.com 13th August 2018.

Offender/Offender Manager Relationships - image of paper people holding hands

Positive Relationships in Offender Management

We are delighted to welcome Prof Darrick Jolliffe, Professor of Criminology at the University of Greenwich as a guest blogger. Prof Jolliffe has worked with GtD on our offender management work and here he discusses the role of relationships in that work.

Positive relationships have the power to change us. This is not just the catchy slogan of the International Coaching Federation, but something that resonates with all of us.  The constructive relationships that we have, or have had with our parents, teachers, friends and colleagues not only define our interactions with them, but our interactions with all others, while defining who we see ourselves to be. Translating this ‘common sense fact’ into the management of those who have committed offences has an extensive history, and some would argue is the bedrock on which the probation service was founded. However, like many things that are common sense, such as we only use 10% of our brains, and carrots provide good eyesight, the suggestion that if ‘offenders’ have a positive relationship with those providing their supervision they will have more positive outcomes, the actual relationship might actually be a bit more complicated. 

I was invited by Get the Data Director Jack Catell to speak their event, Transforming Rehabilitation – Learning from the PbR results, about my experience of attempting to capture the evidence that positive relationships between offenders and offender managers results in definable benefits. This was something that I first worked on over a decade ago, having first been commissioned by the Home Office to develop an Offender Management Feedback Questionnaire, which was a series of questions that asked offenders about their engagement with their named offender manager. I was subsequently commissioned to work on revised versions, and also helped develop a mirror version which asked about how offender managers viewed the relationship that offenders had with probation.

Some findings fit with expectation, for example, female offenders consistently had more positive relationships with offender managers than males, and the longer that an offender had spent on probation the more they felt they had developed positive relationships and acquired useful skills.  However, some findings were very far from expected, for example, those who reported greater engagement with probation were not less likely to reoffend, and even more concerning, or at least confusing, those who reported greater acquisition of skills while on probation were significantly more likely to reoffend.

How do we reconcile these findings with what we know about the power of positive relationships?  Well, I don’t think there is an easy answer here.  I suspect that positive relationships with offender managers are important for offenders, but they may not be important enough to have an impact on a blunt measure such as reoffending over and above the other issues that many of these people are facing in their lives.  We put the finding, that those who reported greater acquisition of skills were more likely to reoffend, down to offender’s overly optimistic view of how easy it would be to continue to stay crime free.  When we looked more closely at the scores of the questionnaires, it was the items which referred specifically to acquiring skills which would reduce later reoffending that those who reoffended tended to endorse more strongly – almost as though they were trying to convince themselves of their ability to stay on the straight and narrow.

Reflecting back on this work, I am really proud of what we did achieve, despite not getting the common sense result we all expected.  I think there would be a lot of mileage in revisiting the offender/offender manager relationship as a potential desistence tool, and if I was going to do this again I would be looking to measure changes in relationships (so administering items more than once) and see how these changes might relate to more short-term outcomes (e.g., offender’s motivation), as well as longer-term outcomes (e.g., reconviction). 

Tape measure

The Data Revolution Will be Measured

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and follower”, so said the late Steve Jobs. His words came to mind as I prepared to present to Gideon’s Promise’s Summer Session last month.  Gideon’s Promise asserts that a revolution is needed in how the criminal justice system treats indigent defendants. And as befits an organization that sees itself in the vanguard of that revolution, Gideon’s Promise has a radical vision of the impact of its work. For them it is less about increased efficiencies in case management or the effectiveness of sentencing. Rather it is about changing how the criminal justice system and society-at-large regard poor people caught up in the system’s net. To bring this about, Gideon’s Promise provides a community of public defenders who put their clients at the center of their practice. In doing so, they insure their clients’ stories are told and their humanity is revealed to the court. Or in the words of one member of the movement, “we need to think of this person as a human being and not simply a number in an orange jump suit”.

So how to measure a revolution? Over the past 18-months Gideon’s Promise has led an expert collaboration that has included Get the Data and another Atlanta-based organization, Techbridge. Together we have delivered a ground-breaking program of work that has produced innovative measures of both the public defenders’ values and their clients’ experiences of the client-centered approach. In developing those measures, GtD grounded our work on understanding the impacts that Gideon’s Promise strives to achieve and the resources at its disposal. Having articulated this theory of change, we were able to design the appropriate measurement instruments and subject them to cognitive, reliability and validity testing with samples of Gideon-trained public defenders and their clients. The next step was to collaborate with Techbridge to deliver a technological solution that will allow the instruments to be completed on-line and held in a database. This technology will be essential as the measurement work is rolled out across Gideon-affiliated offices. Finally, we designed a “Digital Dashboard” that Techbridge attached to the database and to report data by offices, public defenders and their clients.

“Innovative” is a word that can be overused or cliched, but in this case the program of work undertaken by the collaboration has truly been new and refreshing. Moreover, it provides the means by which Gideon’s Promise can measure its bold and revolutionary vision. The next steps will be to roll-out this program of work and then move to designing measures of the impact on the criminal justice system and ultimately society as a whole.

The revolution is coming, and the revolution will be measured.

Alan Mackie presenting about Data Driven Policy Development

Using Data to Shed the Cloak of Invisibility

Since time immemorial we have been fascinated by the power of invisibility. Plato used the “Ring of Gyges” to wrestle with the ethical and moral dilemmas it poses. Just think of H.G. Wells’ “Invisible Man”, Tolkien’s One-Ring, or Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility.  Does invisibility free us from moral obligations, and if we possessed this power would we become corrupted or would we enjoy secretly righting wrongs?

Outside the realms of science fiction, “invisibility” is often an every-day problem for our fellow citizens. I am thinking of those whose problems just don’t make the 24/7 news cycle: the homeless woman sleeping in a shop doorway, the ex-offender walking through the prison gate with nowhere to go, the young man who has dropped out of school with no grades. Often we simply ignore those populations, or – to borrow from Harry Potter – throw the “cloak of invisibility” around them. To be out of sight is often to be out of mind.

The ‘invisibility’ of those with developmental disabilities was thrown into sharp relief during my recent visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was invited by the VI Developmental Disabilities Council to present on ‘Data Driven Policy Development’. My audience was policy makers, including those standing for elected office. If I had any doubts about the relevance of my presentation, the audience quickly rose to the occasion. “How could the needs of those with disabilities be met in the absence of data?”, they demanded. Without data, this population was “invisible”, their needs unknown to those in charge of policy. Without data, those who advocated for better services were hampered in their arguments. Without data, practitioners lacked the evidence to seek funding for new services.

The US Virgin Islands are still recovering from the two hurricanes that devasted the territory last year. As they rebuild the fabric of their communities, it was clear to me that data were not a luxury or a ‘nice-to-have”. Rather, my audience recognized the value of data in throwing light on a population that had often been marginalized prior to the hurricanes, and whose needs had since become more acute. While there is much more work to be done in defining data and setting up systems to collect and analyze data, I suggest that their demand for data was a good one and a great call to action.

It might be fun to speculate what we would do if we had our own cloak of invisibility. In the real world, however, we need data to shine a light on social problems. Or to borrow again from Harry Potter, “Lumus Maxima!”

 

Make Social Impact Your Goal! - GtD and Street Soccer Academy

Make Social Impact Your Goal!

I am delighted to be working again with Street Soccer Academy (SSA) to put evidence of their social impact at the heart of their work with ex-offenders. This important work has been made possible by a grant from the Access Impact Foundation whose mission is to make charities and social enterprises more financially resilient and self-reliant, so that they can sustain or increase their impact. Without the generous funding from the Access Impact Foundation we would not able to provide Street Soccer Academy with our powerful data analysis.

Street Soccer Academy is a great client to work with. They use professionally organised sports-based programmes in the rehabilitation and reintegration of people from some of the nation’s hardest to reach groups, including ex-offenders. Our task is to prove that SSA’s pro-social models are affecting the attitudes and thinking of the men and women with whom they work, with particular emphasis on their relationships and roles in society.

In the coming months we will be using our rigorous social impact analytics to contribute to the knowledge of what makes ex-offenders desist from crime. Our previous evaluation of the academy’s prison to community service, produced evidence of SSA’s excellent engagement of ex-offenders into their programme. With the foundation’s funding we will build on that by using our advanced statistical analysis to identify who benefits from the programme, how and in what circumstances. These analyses will assist the academy to identify the most effective practice and allow it to develop its professional programmes. To ensure that it has the right information at the right time we will be building a dashboard to communicate this data to those delivering the programme, their managers and the funder.

Not only will this improve their practice, but it has important implications for government’s Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. That agenda depends on organisations like SSA being commissioned to deliver services through the private community rehabilitation companies. However, the participation of such organisations has been low as they struggle to demonstrate their impact on reoffending pathways and desistance from crime. Access Impact is helping to overcome those obstacles and by funding our work, will enable SSA to attract further funding and make the systemic changes that are essential to support men and women to desist from crime.

To find out more about our analytics services and how we can help your organisation demonstrate your impact definitively, contact us on 020 3371 8950 or email jack.cattell@getthedata.co.uk