Evaluation of the Offender Mentoring Pilot Project

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Evaluation of the Offender Mentoring Pilot Project

    Hartlepool New Deal for

    Communities Evaluation Team

    Offender Mentoring Pilot


    Evaluation Report

    May 2005


Evaluation of the Offender Mentoring Pilot Project


This Project was granted ?17,110 from the Flexible Development Fund at the

    January 2004 NDC Steering Group Meeting. This one year funding agreement was

    to support a pilot project to assess the effectiveness of an innovative approach

    aimed at altering the behaviour of some NDC residents who had been convicted

    of criminal activities. The purpose of the project was to contribute to the

    reduction of crime in the NDC area by working with and supporting known

    offenders within the community in order to prevent them from re offending.

The Project is managed by the National Probation Service Teesside and it

    employs two local residents as part time offender mentors. The Flexible

    Development Fund Application for the resources to develop and run this project

    indicated that the offender mentors would

    ? “Enable offender to develop pro-social relationships outside the

    Probation Service Process in a more informal context within their

    own communities”

    ? “Provide offenders with opportunities for community reintegration

    by enabling them to access local services and facilities within their


The application argued that support with practical tasks and offering friendship,

    advice and emotional support would reduce the probability the offenders

    committing further crime.

The purpose of this evaluation, therefore, is to assess how well the project has

    been run, how successful or otherwise it has been in carrying out its objectives

    and whether the pilot should be developed into a full project to be supported by

    the NDC.

This evaluation report is set out under the following headings;

? EVALUATION ACTIVITIES this section sets out how the evaluation has

    been conducted

    ? PROJECT SUMMARY this section explains what the project does ? EVALUATION FINDINGS this section provides information gathered

    through the evaluation data collection activity some of which will be set out in

    graphical form.

    ? CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS this section draws some

    broad conclusions and sets out recommendations to be considered by the

    Project Management Group and the NDC Steering Group.


This is a relatively small project, working with a small number of NDC residents.

    A combination of methods has been used to gather evidence on the impact of this

    project. The methodology used to evaluate this project was agreed with the

    Project Manager and is set out in appendix one. Whilst with any evaluation it is

    always possible to continue to collect more evidence, the evaluation team are

    confident that information from a sufficiently wide variety of sources has been

    gathered which will ensure that an accurate and rounded picture of the project

    has been built up.


The main data collection activities were:

    ? A thorough review of the monitoring data and project files held at the NDC


    ? Analysis of statistical and other data provided by the project Probation


    ? In depth, semi structured interviews with eight key players. This included:

     The Staff and managers at the project

    Other agencies with insights into the work of the project

    Project beneficiaries

    ? A review of published research and government reports in the field.

All of these evaluation activities have been designed to gather evidence which will

    provide answers to the following questions

    a) How well is the project working in terms of its efficiency and the quality of

    the service offered to the offenders?

    b) How successful has the scheme been at encouraging offenders to alter

    their lifestyle and cease their involvement in crime?

    c) Is the scheme contributing towards reducing crime in the NDC area?

    d) Should the project be continued in its current form, expanded and

    developed in particular ways, or wound down?


The rational for the development of this project was explained by one of the

    interviewees who had been involved with its development. She explained that:

A high proportion of offenders in Hartlepool live chaotic lifestyles and

    many of them do not have what you would call „suitable people to call

    upon for support, advice and encouragement. Of course the case

    managers within the Probation Service address offending and its causes

    with them, but they do not have the time to provide informal/practical

    help which the offender/mentors can offer.”

In order to meet this need the project employs two part time mentors, both of

    whom work 16 hours a week. These mentors have an office base with the

    Probation Service and each mentor carries a case load of around seven offenders

    each. For each offender a number of goals are agreed between the Probation

    Service, the offender and the mentor, which are to be the focus of their work

    together. These goals are usually practical objectives that will improve the life of

    the offender, such as finding better accommodation, enrolling in training or

    getting on a drug treatment programme. The mentor keeps in regular touch with

    the offender, and helps them to work towards these goals. They report to the

    probation officer on progress and also to the Project Management Group. The

    Project Management Group is made up of the Project staff, two NDC Steering

    Group representatives, the NDC Crime and Community Safety Manager, and the

    Police (who rarely attend). It meet has met five times over the life of the project.

Currently the project is supporting 18 offenders. As one of the offender mentors


“The project is giving offenders time that probation officers don‟t have.

    By offering to help with the practical stuff for clients, being on hand to

    say right, we need to help you find some housing or we need to get you

    to the doctors tomorrow, or more involved in the community, we can


help them put their lives back together. As Mentors, we can go out there

    with them and access what‟s on offer.”

Typical activities which mentors are expected to assist with includes:

    ? Assisting offenders to access training and employment opportunities

    ? Assisting offenders to reintegrate in their community by accessing

    community resources e.g. leisure, education facilities

    ? Assisting offenders with basic skills problems, complete forms and

    access assistance

    ? Supporting offenders with substance misuse problems whilst they wait

    for assessment/scripts

    ? Accompanying offenders to appointments such as doctors, benefits

    agency, drug rehabilitation projects or the job centre.

    ? Providing emotional support in times of personal crisis

    ? Helping with access to appropriate accommodation

The project was provided with sufficient funds to enable it to run a 12 month pilot

    and as the project effectively began its work in May as the first two workers took

    up their posts 2004, the pilot had now run its course.


This project has only been operational for a year. However, for much of this time

    it was operating under strength, as one of the two mentors appointed at the

    outset of the project found that the post was not suitable for her and she left

    after a few months. It was suggested to the evaluation team by one interviewee


“*******(the mentor‟s name), really struggled with the role and found

    working with some of the characters she was asked to support really

    demanding and draining on her. She never really settled.

    thThis person left on the 6 September 2004 and the recruitment process that

    followed led to a second offender mentor being appointed to begin working for ththe project on the 4 January 2005. In addition to this, there were changes in the

    management of the project at an early stage. As was explained to an evaluation

    team member:

Unfortunately, due to Probation Service operational requirements, the

    Project Manager who had been involved with the initial negotiations to

    set up the project and who had appointed the staff was moved to another

    post in May, 2004, just as the project was beginning. As a consequence

    of this, whilst other staff gave what support they could, the project had a

    stuttering start”

Despite these drawbacks, as will be illustrated later, the project has managed to

    perform reasonably well against it predicted outputs the other evidence gathered

    for this report also suggests that it is appreciated by the project’s direct

    beneficiaries- the offenders - and that the work of the mentors appears to be

    effective. Nonetheless, in terms of the overall ambition to reduce re-offending,

    the short time scale over which the project has run and the other factors which

    have mean that it has not been fully operational for much of that time, mean that

    is it really too early to give a definitive answer to some of the questions posed in

    the section two above. This evaluation offers an indication only of how effective

    the project has been. A clearer picture of its value and impact will only be


possible after at least two and preferably three years of consistent work from the


Why Support Offenders?

    This is a key question which was raised by one or two respondents during the

    course of this evaluation. Surely, as one person put it

“We should be concentrating on helping the victims of crime, and

    catching and punishing criminals, not funding projects that actually offer

    help to criminals. This is all wrong.”

This view is understandable. There has been a great deal of coverage in the

    news media recently about being tough on anti social behaviour and crime.

    There have been calls for tougher, longer custodial sentences, promises that

    there will be more police and police community support officers, scare stories

    about “hoodies” and demands for more respect. As one respondent put it

“We seem to be entering one of those recurrent periods of „moral panic‟

    about young people that have occurred every few years since the days of

    the teddy boys.”

Some media reports conjure up images of criminals as tough, hard, thoughtless,

    violent and dangerous people who threaten the fabric of society with their unruly

    behaviour. Of course it is true that many criminals are thoughtless violent and

    dangerous. However, as another respondent explained:

“Actually, most of the criminals that the police deal with are rather

    pathaetic characters. Many of them are not very bright. They get talked

    into things by their mates, or they get drunk or high on something and

    don‟t realise what they‟ve done. Some people just don‟t seem to be able

    to cope with the pressure of modern life. Paying bills, having to have a

    licence to drive a car or watch a TV. These things just seem too hard for

    some people and they end up on the wrong side of the law. But they

    aren‟t dangerous, they need help.

Whilst this quote may seem a little patronising to the offenders it does go some

    way towards explaining why there might be a need for this project. As another

    respondent involved with the delivery of the project explained in talking about her

    experience of working with offenders:

I did not realise how people‟s lives were just totally bizarre! They don‟t

    have any routine. They seem to bury their heads in the sand as the bills

    mount up, yet they blow all their money on a day out, or chocolates or

    drink. They will stay in bed till mid day, and then stay up all night. They

    will get ideas into their heads to do something or buy something even

    thought they can‟t afford it. The banks give them loans and credit cards and then try and take them to court because they have not paid the bill

    even though it was perfectly clear that they never had the income to

    allow them to take out the loan or credit card in the first place. So they

    are in a mess, with no money and then they go and steal something

    It‟s been an eye opener for me.”

Another respondent painted a similar picture as she described some of the

    offenders she had worked with:

They have mainly been involved in theft, shop-lifting to feed a heroin

    addiction or just going round the doors selling all their junk. We have


another one, Ben (not his real name), he has had an awful life. He stole

    a car, got put on probation, but kept missing appointments, so he

    breached his order and got took to court.”

One of the offenders interviewed explained how she had become a criminal, as

    she said, by accident:

    “I was driving a car and unfortunately I hit two people and hurt them pretty badly. I couldn‟t help it, they just stepped out in front of me, but I didn‟t have a driving licence or insurance and I found out later that was

    a serious offence.”

This project is designed to support such people and to try and help them to live

    more ordered lives and to avoid the strains and stresses that lead them to

    commit crime. As was explained to the evaluation team:

“This project works with people who have committed crimes, some of

    them serious ones, but they have been adjudged not to be dangerous or

    violant people, rather through their own foolishness or someone elses

    influence they have done something stupid and got caught. They need a

    friend who will give them good advice, who will point them in the right

    direction, who is reliable, firm with them, but respects them and tries to

    be on their side.”

Leading more ordered lives

    Being as mentor, however, is about far more than just being a friend and advisor.

    As on of the interviewees explained.

“We work to a plan, which we agree with the offender. We have to make

    progress towards the objectives set in the plan. We have to get the

    offender‟s debts in order, or get them into training, or a job, or get them

    help with stress or drug addiction.”

The offender mentors were able to report some success in this direction.

I have got one client at the minute and she has been paying all her bills.

    She had a lot of debt and now she has got no debt with her bills which is

    really good. She takes the kids to school, gets them there on time and

    has food ready for them when they come home. I said to her, you don‟t

    know what an achievement that is in itself, because there are a lot of

    people can‟t do this”

However, despite these signs of success, this respondent felt that there was still a

    long way to go with this particular person. They went on to explain that:

“She does not go to work though and when she‟s taken the kids to school

    she goes back to bed. She is the one who has a dream of having an

    antique shop in Spain! How are you going to fund the airfare I asked her?

    She has never worked and she thinks she is going to open a business in

    Spain! It challenging, trying to get them to be realistic and getting them

    into a routine and staying there.

     One of the offenders interviewed explained how her mentor was helping her

    She‟s like my big sister really. We are getting involved on courses at the moment. Its cracking me up being stuck in the house all the time. She is

    getting me out and I‟m learning new things, we are doing confidence


courses to improve confidence at the Lynnfield school, and hoping to get

    into voluntary work once or twice a week. Just come shopping with me,

    and girlie things, shopping and chatting. She makes me feel OK about


Another offender explained that

“Now I‟m not just going with the flow like I used to. The mentor is coming up

    with things to do and I am going along with it. I‟m sure if I wanted to do

    something she will come and do it with me. She knows where the courses are

    where all the volunteer schemes, she knows where everything is and knows

    everybody. I feel more on the organised and as if my life is getting back on


Mentoring is a challenge

    One of the innovative aspects of this scheme was the employment of relatively

    inexperienced local residents to take on this difficult role. In order to enable them

    to carryout their work successfully they have received training and ongoing

    support and supervision.

The supervision is provided by probation officers and case work supervisors. It

    was explained to the evaluation team that:

“The case supervisors retain overall responsibility for the supervision of

    the offender and the mentors discuss their clients regularly with them.

    The Mentors are also supervised by the Project Manager on a monthly

    basis and informally supervised as and when the need arises.”

This arrangement appears to work well and is much appreciated by the offender

    mentors. As one of them explained:

There is what you call corridor supervision people going past and

    there is also the formal supervision. We get a supervision session once a

    month where project manager runs through each of the cases and I give

    an update of where we are at and we can discuss any problems. The

    other day, I was unsure where to go with a client next and I just said to

    **** (the project manager) have you got five minutes and we just

    chatted through it with him and he was quite straightforward, do this,

    this and this. If there are any issues, we bring (them) to their attention.

    I have always found Probation to be spot on.”

The project has also provided training for the mentors, through an “in house”

    induction and also externally delivered training on mentoring. Interview evidence

    suggests that some of the training provided has been very beneficial, whilst other

    courses may have been of limited value. One respondent complained that:

They sent me on a Mentoring 2000 course. It was alright, pretty basic

    though, I did not get much from it. But I have read books that have

    helped me - a few books on self-esteem, personal development, things

    like that. I tend to take bit out of them and I have learnt how to give my

    clients goals to reach, little targets to get to that make them feel good

    about themselves.”

On the other hand another interviewee explained that

The training really helped because they looked at what a Mentor is and

    what would be expected from the role and we even did role play client,


mentor, client, offence? Supervisor and looked at that it was really

    interesting, it was good fun.

As has been alluded to earlier, one of the mentors originally appointed left the

    project because she found the job too demanding. The Project Managers have

    identified a number of “learning points” from the first year’s operation. One of

    which was

“Probabtion staff underestimated the difficulty the mentors would

    experience in adapting to the demands of working for a statutory agency.

    Issues such as role boundaries, confidentiality, collection of statistics

    and financial systems all needed to be resolved.”

Whilst effective support, supervision and training are important, the key to the

    effectiveness of this project, as was argued by one respondent, lay in the

    appointment of right people for the job. As one interviewee explained:

“This is a difficult and demanding job, which requires dedication, tact,

    patience, local knowledge, the ability to learn fast and not to be phased

    by unexpected events. We have got a couple of people who really fit the

    bill here. They are the key to the success of this project.”

Evidence collected for this evaluation confirms that the job is demanding, but that

    it also rewarding. As one mentor put it

“It‟s a dream job. I love it! I just like to help people. I really do. Just to

    show them what is out there for themselves and how they could change

    things if they really want to. A lot of people do not know how to break

    out of the life they are in, how to move away from peer pressure and

    things like that. To see people‟s lives change for the better is really rewarding.”

As a number of people indicated during the course of the evaluation, whilst this

    project did not perform well initially because of staff changes, over the latter half

    of the year, the employment of the right people, who have been given

    appropriate support, supervision and training has meant that it is now working


The Evaluation team learnt that the Probation Serviced Teesside has

    subsequently developed other offender mentor schemes in other areas and that

    the use of community based mentors is seen as a means by which Probabtion

    Services can diversify it approach. This is in line with the implementation of the

    Carter Report (Home Office Strategy Unit December 2003). The report, which is

    now being acted upon by the Home Office, recommended the merging of the

    Prison and Probabtion Services into one organisation which would be responsible

    for introducing

A system focussed on end to end management of offenders throughout

    their sentence with clear responsibility for reducing re-offending two years after the end of the sentence”

and it indicated that:

“More effective service delivery can be achieved through greater use of

    the private and voluntary sectors” (page 34)


Whilst this project is not a voluntary sector project (as it is run within the

    Probation Service), it is nevertheless and example of a move away from the

    orthodoxy that only Probation Officers can help offenders and a recognition that

    others may have a part to play in helping offenders to turn away from crime.

Project Outputs

    This summary of the position is also supported by the project outputs, which are

    set out on the table below.

     Target Achieved

    Number offender recruited to the scheme 16 18

    Number of offenders accessing training 4 4

    Number of offenders entering employment 2 4

    Number of offenders accessing drug treatment 6 4

    Number of offenders successfully completing the 8 6


    Number of face to face contact hours with clients 700 542

    Number of NDC events/initiatives that offenders have 50 37

    participated/engaged in

As one of the scheme managers commented

Given that we had four months when only one mentor was working

    instead of the anticipated two, these outputs are quite impressive.”

Value for Money

    This project has cost just over ?17,000 to run for a 12 month period during which

    it has supported 18 offenders. This gives us a crude unit cost of ?944 per

    offender. The Home Office estimates that the average cost of just one house

    burglary is ?2,300. Therefore if the project is in reducing the risk of re-offending

    by working with individuals substantial savings will be made both socially and

    economically. In this respect the project represents very good value for money.

Taking into account all of the evidence presented above, this report will now

    attempt to address the questions set out on page two of this report.

How well is the project working in terms of its efficiency and the quality

    of the service offered to the offenders?

    We have presented evidence that the project got off to what one respondent

    described as a “stuttering start”. Nevertheless, it now appears to be working well.

    It is supporting the anticipated number of offenders and the quality of the support

    offered appears to be high. The training and supervision arrangements seem to

    work well most of the offenders appear to appreciate the help and advise of their

    mentors. It would appear that the role of the Project Management Group has not

    been clear to all parties. As one respondent explained:

“I was not sure what they wanted from me, or what the meetings were

    really for.”

The meetings have taken place intermittently and some members, in particular

    the police, have attended only infrequently. This does not appear, however, to

    have had a detrimental effect on the overall performance of the project.

How successful has the scheme been at encouraging offenders to alter

    their lifestyle and cease their involvement in crime?

    This evaluation has found evidence that the project has been effective at

    encouraging offenders to alter their life style and cease their involvement in crime.

    Of course it would be naive to expect that every offender that the mentors work


with will not re-offend. However, each mentor reported only one of their current

    case load of around eight clients each has re offended. As one of the mentors


“It‟s going well so far. Of the seven I‟ve got, only one of them has re

    offended and that was a daft thing - he decided he wanted to get away

    from old influences and did not want to mix with drug dealers, so he

    decided to grow cannabis plants in his kitchen cupboard!”

The other example of re-offending was similar. The mentor reported that she

    was pleased that all of her clients had stayed out of trouble except one:

    “I have had one who did re-offend, that Julie (not her real name). Well, she really blue it. She lost her flat and everything because of debt and

    and then she …… it was in the paper about two weeks ago, have you

    seen this woman in Murray Street pinching a bottle of vodka out of Bells.

    So she had done that, but it was last year. And that was that weekend

    where she had lost her flat ……”

As indicated earlier it is essentially too early to say whether this approach to

    supporting offenders really will be successful at reducing the likelihood that they

    will re-offend, nevertheless the early sign are encouraging.

Is the scheme contributing towards reducing crime in the NDC area?

    We know that levels of crime in the NDC area have been declining over the last

    three years, although the rates are still high when compared to the Hartlepool

    average. In domestic burglary for example, there was a significant decrease in

    offences during the year 2003/04. This decrease amounts to almost 100 less

    burglaries when compared to the previous year and the downward trend has

    continued month on month since April 2004. In August, 2004, for example, the

    NDC area recorded its lowest ever number of burglaries in any one month (9)

    since the beginning of the programme. Overall the figures for domestic burglary

    show that the gap has reduced from 93% above the town average to 61% above

    the town average. A reduction of 32%.

    Table (A) Dwelling House Burglary Rates

    Burglary Rates

    1810016Hartlepool801412NDC6010Gap8406Linear (NDC)420householdsand NDC2Burglaries per 1000 00% gap between Hpool



The figures in relation to the overall crime rate reveal that the gap between

    Hartlepool and the NDC area has reduced from 70% above the town average to


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