30 Nov, 2023

RMA Blog: Enhancing Evidence-Based Practice and Collaborative Connections – Eurocrim 2023

Julie, our Acting Effective Practice Lead, writes about her experience attending Eurocrim this year, and how practitioners and academics across the world are approaching reintegration.

In September, for the first time, I represented the RMA at an international conference. Called “The Renaissance of European Criminology”, the 23rd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology was a brilliant experience and an opportunity for me to meet and learn from academics and practitioners from all over the world. With over 20 presentations happening at any one time, if I were to cover the whole conference this would become a novel, and not a blog, so I’m going to pick just some of my personal highlights…

Penal Trajectories – Understanding entry into and Release From Prison

The panel focused on empirical research on prison and its effects on the lives of incarcerated persons. Findings were discussed from the Comparative Penology Group, a five year project entitled “Penal policymaking and the prisoner experience: a comparative analysis”, which looks at research from England & Wales and Norway. Experiences of those convicted of sex offences in England was discussed with many reporting anxieties before and after release – around legal restrictions, relationships and moral judgements. The book “The Stains of Imprisonment”, published by one of the panellists, Alice Levins, sounds interesting – it’s now on my wish list of books which is ever growing! A statement made by one of the panellists really resonated with me: “release is not an individual pursuit but a relational one”, it really stresses the importance of relationships and community to reintegration and rehabilitation.

Policing and Prevention of Online Child Sexual Abuse

I heard of promising research from the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) of England, the vision is to improve policing through partnership in applied research. They discussed a collaborative pilot project between Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) within Thames Valley Police and Family Matters. The project looks at providing support to families who receive “The Knock”, which relates to the arrival of police officers at the home of a family where someone is suspected of child sex offences. It is currently being evaluated by PEIR but the preliminary findings seemed positive. For more information visit: https://www.aru.ac.uk/news/support-can-help-those-impacted-by-the-knock.

Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Desistance

One of the panellists presentations titled “Prison and beyond: Longitudinal qualitative study on policy reform & re-integration process” discussed the five basic conditions (needs) to be met at transition from prison to community within the Netherlands. The current model of transitional support was shared, this included a prerequisite that all those leaving prison have a Detention & Reintegration plan (D&R) focused on the needs & goals for the individual. The findings from the qualitative study, which looked at pre & post release periods, found issues with the implementation of the D&R plan. It was noted that some of the basic conditions were not always met for various reasons such as the interrelatedness of some of these needs i.e. if an individual doesn’t have ID it is very difficult to get a bank account. This was a stark reminder that these basic needs can be taken for granted for those of us fortunate to have these in place.

There was a real buzz in the air with over 2,000 academics from across the world coming together to share research, further evidence-based practice, and establish new and exciting collaborative connections! It was so apparent that everyone had a real passion to make a difference to the lives of the people they work with and to learn and understand how to improve practice.

The collaborative and rich datasets that were available to inform research were really promising. These included the European Database of Terrorist Offenders (EDT) – which holds data from five member states on convicted terrorist offenders. Data from the Netherlands on violent extremism which can be used to link datasets to compare different types of offences to terrorism. The HM Inspectorate of Prisons Data has now been made available to researchers, the database holds a wealth of information spanning 20 years!

The guiding principles within FRAME related to collaboration and evidence-based practice were apparent throughout the conference. The beautiful surroundings in Florence added to the magic, and to top it all off I managed not to get lost which is quite an achievement for me!

Julie Webber
Acting Effective Practice Lead

Julie joined the RMA back in 2015 and since then has been involved in the development and delivery of initiatives to support services in the implementation of risk assessment and management practice, including the use of the LS/CMI method and system. She is involved in the delivery and development of Risk Practice training and have provided advice and guidance on risk practice to inform policy development, and most recently was a pivotal part of our project to review the LS/CMI IT issues.

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