Probation supervision can be effective in reducing rates of reoffending, a new review of previous research suggests.

Despite the widespread worldwide use of probation supervision for offenders serving community sentences, out on parole or following a prison term, there is no single agreed model of how it should work.

Manchester Metropolitan University researchers conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment of existing studies into the effect of probation supervision.

They found a lack of research into the area, surprising given the long history of probation supervision, analysing just 13 suitable studies worldwide.

The review of findings from the studies shows that the likelihood of reoffending was demonstrably lower for offenders who had been exposed to some type of supervision. However the individual studies were varied in the type of supervision employed, and its effect on reoffending.

Professor Chris Fox, Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “This rigorous and wide-ranging review provides some evidence that probation supervision is effective at reducing reoffending, but also highlights the need for more research in this area, particularly research in the UK.

“Given current debates about the future of probation, building a strong evidence-base to inform decision-making has never been more important.”

Andrew Smith, Research Associate in the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Our aim was to identify studies which used research designs which would highlight the causal link between probation supervision and reoffending. So we used stringent search criteria, which ultimately yielded a relatively small number of studies.”



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