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Geographical Analysis
Designing Out Crime
Crime Policy and Evaluation
Terrorism and Organised Crime
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Geographical Analysis: Prisoner Reentry Project


The impact of geographic variables on prisoner re-introduction and re-offending

Funding source: Economic and Social Research Council (Grant RES-193-25-0012)

Dates: February 2011 - present

Prolific offenders contribute to a disproportionate volume of crime. Many offenders who have served spells in prison go on to re-offend when they are re-introduced into local communities. However, little is known in the UK about whether the geographic characteristics of the area where the offender is re-introduced has an impact on the level of re-offending that is committed.

This project involved a synthesis of the existing research into prisoner re-introduction and re-offending. The majority of this growing evidence-base has been developed in the USA. This research has shown that where an offender resides following their release from prison does matter; if it is a place of familiarity then the offender has awareness of the opportunities to commit crime – a key factor in the risk of re-offending. This can be compounded by geographical characteristics of the area (e.g. a burglar being re-introduced in a target rich student housing area); however, this needs to be balanced with the positive role that family ties (most usually in places that are familiar to the offender) can have on reducing the risk of re-offending. We visited the Integrated Offender Management Teams in Oldham, Stockport and Newcastle to discuss the findings from this research and its practical implications. Often the difficulty is that there is limited choice in where offenders can reside following their release from prison, but that a weakness in the current process is that no consideration is given on where they are re-introduced in the assessment of whether they will re-offend.

The impact of geographic variables on prisoner re-introduction and re-offending

At present, little consideration is given in the UK to whether where an offender is re-introduced following their release from prison, impacts upon their risk of re-offending. In part, this comes from a dearth of UK research into this topic. Our principal research aim involved reviewing the existing research on mapping prisoner re-introduction (which is mainly US research) and synthesise it to a UK context. We anticipated that this exercise would highlight that where an offender lives following their release from prison has an impact on their re-offending behaviour, with certain geographic characteristics of the area being key to influencing this impact. As a result of this activity we planned to highlight these findings to practitioners and explore the feasibility of considering these results on the practical management of (ex) offenders and how it can help to reduce re-offending behaviour and reductions in crime.

The impact of geographic variables on prisoner re-introduction and re-offending

The core activity involved a review and synthesis of research into the impact of geographic variables on prisoner re-introduction and their re-offending. This was a desk-based exercise. We were able to utilise our contacts to gather the key pieces of research on this topic. This included the extensive work on prisoner re-entry that has been conducted by the US Urban Institute, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the US Problem Oriented Policing Center.

The research also involved other important elements that helped us to apply a practitioner focus to the findings, and identify the potential of using data collected by UK agencies to conduct a large scale research study in the future. This included visits to the Integrated Offender Management services (involving the Probation Service, Youth Offending Service, Drugs and Alcohol Action Teams, Police, Prison Service and the Community Safety Partnerships) in Oldham and Stockport to see how they currently consider the geographic placement of offenders (in terms of where they reside post-release from prison) in the management of re-offending risk.

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