Social intervention
: supporting success, guiding desistance

  • Andrew John Bain

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Education, training and employment (ETE) are considered of great importance to desistance from crime and the rehabilitation of the offender (Clarke, 2010; Farrall, 2002; SEU: 2002). This study sets out to investigate the use and success of such an intervention in a local Probation Trust area, with a convenience sample drawn from a population of adult offenders (aged 18 years+). It makes use of a triangulation (mixed) methodology conducted through a series of assisted questionnaires undertaken with offenders and semi-structured interviews, with both offenders and staff members, to better evaluate the success of such a programme, as well as assessing the experience and understanding of the individual participants.

Data collected during the assisted questionnaire – both in specific answers and open conversation – and in the follow-up interviews suggest a positive experience for the individual. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the provision of ETE provides for a clear and supportive service, which helps the individual to move away from crime in an informed and positive manner. This is a finding supportive of earlier work completed in the field suggesting that desistance is a process of moving away from crime and not the end result (Laub and Sampson 2001). Much of the evidence points towards a greater concentration upon those outcomes which are not always seen as being target led or funding-related, which have often been termed as soft skills and soft-outcomes. Indeed, a number of the findings of this study are reflective of those reported by McNeill and Weaver (2010: 6), providing for honesty and clarity; informal and respectful relationships; recognising the importance of the social for the individual. It is believed that these similarities only strengthen the conclusions drawn within the thesis.

Consequently, the thesis observes ETE as a service which supports desistance through one-to-one engagement, treating the offender as an individual in need of assistance and guidance which focuses on the future rather than the past, and identifies the need to replace a focus upon risk with a one-to-one desistance focused management as the way forward for the probation service.

Date of AwardApr 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMichael Nash (Supervisor)

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