Targeting and Evaluating a Behavioural Monitoring Process Designed to Improve the Risk Management of Prisoners in the Open Prison Estate

  • Gary Goodley

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Open prisons play a unique role in the preparedness and resettlement of prisoners nearing the end of their sentences such that graduated exposure to the community has been associated with lower recidivism rates. Yet the nature of these institutions increases the hazard that harmful behaviours spill out into the community. In 2014, prisons in England and Wales adopted the Enhanced Behaviour Monitoring framework to provide assurances that the risks - of abscond, recidivism, and temporary release failure - were managed. The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate the impact of Enhanced Behaviour Monitoring on the rate of failures in open prisons.
To achieve this aim, Study 1 employed meta-analysis to identify risk factors associated with failure in the immediate years following release from custody (i.e., exposure to the community). Study 2 utilised these variables to build a model upon which to predict ‘failure’ in open conditions. Study 3 was an evaluation of Enhanced Behaviour Monitoring to compare the failure outcomes of those allocated to the intervention with a control group matched on the variables associated with failure identified in Study 2.
Seventeen risk factors for recidivism were identified, six of which were associated with recall from open to closed conditions. Indeed, these recall rates were disproportionate to the rate of serious recidivistic outcomes such as abscond, and both custodial and community re-offending, which were rare. Enhanced Behaviour Monitoring had a null effect on reducing failures; those allocated to Enhanced Behaviour Monitoring were overall at higher risk of recall to closed conditions.
This thesis contributes to the literature by advocating for longitudinal, individualised assessments of risk in open prisons, based on behavioural aggregation, to inform community risk management plans. Effective risk management in open conditions is best achieved through procedural change and cultural enhancement, rather than scrutiny of individual-level risk factors.
Date of Award1 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorDominic Pearson (Supervisor), Paul Morris (Supervisor) & Neil Gredecki (Supervisor)

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