Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme: the final report

Emily Gray et al, Probation Studies Unit at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford

The Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP), first introduced by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales in 2001, has met its three original key objectives, according to the recently published final report.
The target of a 5% reduction in reoffending was easily met, with the frequency of offending in the ISSP sample going down by 40% over one year and by 39% over two years.

However, it should be pointed out that comparison groups did equally well – possibly an indication of the difficulty of using reconviction to measure success.

There is a substantial amount of evidence to back up the fact that most schemes have brought about changes in behaviour, attitudes and skills.

ISSP has been used with different types of offenders and best results may be with the most difficult ones, although those with fewest individual and social problems were the most likely to complete a programme.

The fact that so many youth courts have used ISSP during the past years is proof of its acceptance. Both staff and young offenders felt that the basic elements of intensive contact and surveillance were being firmly applied.

Staff and families considered the surveillance part of the programme to have a stabilising influence, breaking up negative contacts and having an impact on the behaviour of the young people.

While the majority of ISSP schemes appeared to be geared to the individual needs of young offenders, key factors in producing the best results were the quality of staff and their rapport with the young people they work with, plus the provision of resources.

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