Drink and Drugs News DDN December 2019 - Page 20

SERVICES INSIDE OUT F When delivering recovery services to prisoners, demonstrating impact is a complex but vital process, says Carwyn Gravell orward’s range of structured, abstinence-based treatment programmes (which we refer to as the ‘RAPt’ programmes) have supported thousands of people into lasting recovery. Our range and type of programmes have grown and diversified since we first began helping people from a portacabin in HMP Downview in the early ’90s. So too have the tools we use to measure their impact. Our recently launched annual Impact report includes a summary of the research on the impact of these programmes. The first published study into the RAPt programmes was Drug treatment in prison: an evaluation of the RAPt treatment programme by Player and Martin of Kings College London in 2000. This gave the first evidence of our successful impact in reducing reoffending – a one-year rate of 25 per cent amongst the 274 completers of our programme, compared with 38 per cent for non- graduates. A second study, Effectiveness of the rehabilitation for addicted prisoners trust (RAPt) programme, published in 2014 and using data from the Police National Computer (PNC) database, showed a 31 per cent reconviction rate for graduates of our programmes in male prisons, an 18 per cent drop in reconviction rates and a 65 per cent reduction in the volume of re-offending. The establishment of the Justice Data Lab (JDL) in 2013 has provided us with a national framework to evaluate the success of all our interventions in reducing reoffending. We have so far submitted two cohorts of data for analysis by the JDL, with our most recent results being published in October of this year. A JDL study into our Women’s Substance Dependence Treatment Programme (WSDTP) showed that women who completed the programmes reported a one-year re-offending rate of just 18 per cent, while a similar study into our less intensive Alcohol Treatment Programme reported a reoffending rate of 37 per cent. Just how positive is this impact? There are methodological limitations in estimating the likely reoffending rate for a comparison group of drug or We have seen a decline of 58 per cent in the number of people starting programmes over the last three years 20 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • DEC 2019-JAN 2020 alcohol dependent offenders who do not access these programmes. For example, the Justice Data Lab comparison groups (with re-offending rates of between 35 and 40 per cent) are based on a criteria of frequent drug/ alcohol use, rather than dependence, leading to significant underestimates. Other estimates of the reoffending rates of drug/alcohol dependent offenders range between 58 per cent (participants of all accredited drug/alcohol programmes in prison, according to an MoJ Analytical Series study from 2013) and 76 per cent for ex-prisoners who reported using class A drugs post-release (in the same study). Taking this upper-end estimate as a comparison, RAPt programmes could potentially reduce reoffending by nearly 60 per cent. Yet despite this significant impact, we have seen a decline both in the number of people starting programmes (a reduction of 58 per cent over the last three years) and in programme quality. The increasingly challenging prison environment (an aggressive prison drug market, lack of space on dedicated ‘recovery wings’ to run group programmes, prison ‘lock-downs’ preventing programme delivery, and placing of inappropriate referrals onto programmes) is part of the reason. That being said, we have also realised, through consultation with staff and service users, that we need to improve the way we prepare applicants for the intensity of our programmes. The development of our Stepping Stones courses (a shorter intervention that gives people a taster of the kinds of things covered in more intensive treatment) has helped. For example, at HMP Send –where we run WSDTP – the introduction of this stepped model has led to a 25 per cent increase in programme completion. The process of quantifying the impact of our work is not always straightforward. Maintaining programme integrity in a hostile prison environment – and designing accurate research methodologies – remains a challenge. But it is worth it. Because proving that our work can – and has – helped thousands of people to turn their lives around is essential to building a reliable evidence base for this sector. Carwyn Gravell is divisional director of business development at The Forward Trust WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM