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Basic Skills Provision for Offenders on Probation Supervision: Beyond a Rhetoric of Evidence–Based Policy?

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Abstract:

This article draws upon issues within the debate on evidence–based policy raised in the academic literature and in recent government documentation. The article assesses the extent to and ways in which policy development and implementation on adult basic skills (literacy and numeracy) within the National Probation Service (NPS) are evidence–based. It is argued that the albeit limited amount of empirical evidence on adult basic skills, methodological insights gained through empirical research, and expert opinion have shaped the NPS basic skills strategy. To enhance policy implementation, findings from the NPS pathfinder evaluation have been disseminated to practitioners. It is aimed to build research evidence on basic skills in the NPS in a cumulative way and to use findings to shape policy development on an ongoing basis. The lack of a systematic review on adult basic skills is used to explore reasons for gaps in evidence–based policy on basic skills in the NPS. The article concludes that a range of types of evidence has shaped policy development on basic skills in the NPS.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8527.t01-2-00225

Affiliations: Home Office National Probation Directorate

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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