Family intervention projects (FIPs), hailed as one of Labour’s strongest weapons against antisocial behaviour, are less successful than previously thought, according to a new report.
Family Intervention Projects: a classic case of policy-based evidence, published today by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, found “little evidence” to support the intensive intervention.
Based on a re-analysis of evaluations of FIPs, the report found media statements and policy announcements released by the former government ignored large caveats when claiming the success of the projects.
Report author Prof David Gregg said his research had found the success rates were based only on a core sample of the most compliant families.
Moreover, people displaying antisocial behaviour often had mental health problems or learning disabilities, bringing into question the suitability of antisocial behavioural interventions for these groups.
Gregg said: “By targeting the wrong people for the wrong reasons while failing to tackle the real underlying causes in those targeted or delivering support in key areas, like mental health, the FIP remains root enforcement-led and sanctions-oriented, where someone must be blamed and punished for bad behaviour.
“This ethos justifies forcing very vulnerable families with mental health problems into projects under threat of eviction, loss of benefits and removal of children into care.’
Richard Garside, director at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: “This briefing raises serious questions about the efficacy of family intervention projects.
“It was not unusual for the last administration to play fast and loose with the evidence base and it is to be hoped that a thorough review will be held of the FIP strategy and more evidence-led conclusions drawn.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are investigating a range of new approaches to help families with multiple problems. We will take into account all the research from Family Intervention Projects and other programmes to see which have been most effective, so we can ensure that we can provide high-quality help and value for money.”