Policy Fellowship with the MOJ and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation: Outcome Measures Linked to Desistance - CAPE (2023)

Context | Role description and responsibilities | Essential and desirable criteria | How to apply | Data Security | Working Arrangements | Organisational context


Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE) is pleased to announce a new policy fellowship opportunity working with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation research team alongside analytical colleagues in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Data and Analysis Directorate. This fellowship post offers an exciting opportunity to work with fast paced analytical teams to address one of the government’s top priorities of reducing reoffending.

The MoJ’s Areas of Research Interest (ARI) 2020 publication summarises the MoJ’s evidence needs over the next three to five years, aligned with the department’s strategic objectives for the system. A specific focus of interest for this fellowship links to the following ARI questions:

  • How can wider attributes, or a broader range of factors, be incorporated into our understanding of desistance? How could outcome measures, including intermediate outcomes, be best utilised, complementing current measures of reoffending?

The post also links with the probation inspection standards framework which now includes an ‘outcomes’ standard[1].

This exciting Policy Fellowship opportunity is open to eligible academic, research and university staff at CAPE partner universities. It is offered on a full-time or part-time basis, for up to 6 months, in the first instance, with the possibility of renewal. The fellowship award may be up to £50,000 funded through CAPE. The fellowship will start as soon as possible, subject to successful security clearance.

Role description and responsibilities

The project seeks to explore the range of outcome measures needed to better understand desistance and (reductions in) reoffending. There is interest in developing measures that work for (i) children and (ii) adults, ensuring that they are sufficiently tailored to these differing age groups.

As well as exploring these outcome measures, the fellowship could also potentially assist with: the development of future performance measures/targets such as those within youth justice and those within the new unified probation service; assessment tools such as OASys (adults) and AssetPlus (children); and other new technological tools such as web-based applications to allow people in the criminal justice system to assess their own needs, track their progress, and seamlessly integrate them with support services[2].

The main responsibilities will be to:

  • Potential factors include but are not limited to the following; accommodation, families and relationships, education, training and employment[3]:
  • consider how can we ensure the collection of high-quality validated data, whilst also being mindful of undue data collection burdens upon practitioners on the frontline. The measures and any scales/tools will need to be succinct, easy to administer, and evidence based (or applying the MVP principles: meaningful, valid and pragmatic)[4].

Priority tasks will include:

  • reviewing and synthesising the current evidence, potentially through a rapid evidence assessment (REA)
  • developing individual indicators/measures/scales and potentially an instrument/tool, with accompanying guidance on completion and how best to measure and monitor progress.
  • producing a plan for continuing development/validation
  • developing a framework/systematic approach to capturing and using data which can be shared.
  • early piloting of the measures.

About you

Essential criteria

  • Excellent research and analytic skills, with demonstrated experience or transferable skills in conducting evidence reviews and synthesis;
  • Ability to work proactively, managing and prioritising your own workload;
  • Ability to operate effectively,openlyand collaboratively demonstrating neutrality and impartiality while negotiating potentially competing stakeholder interests;
  • Ability to creatively and systematically problem-solve issues;
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to engage and build positive relationships with people from different backgrounds, different levels of seniority and across different teams. Particularly important are writing skills and proven communications experience with both academic and non-academic audiences and proficiency in disseminating technical findings to senior audiences.

Desirable criteria

  • Expertise and experience in using research as a means of informing and contributing towards the development of policy and operational delivery;
  • Understanding of the academic/policy engagement environment, and an ability to grasp project priorities quickly.
  • Previous experience and / or knowledge and understanding about the role of probation and youth offending services.
  • Awareness of assessment tools

Please note specific terms and conditions will be stated in a fellowship agreement, which the successful candidate will be required to sign at the start of their fellowship.

How to apply

To apply please send:

  • a short CV (max 2 pp);
  • covering letter outlining your suitability for the role including your current salary;
  • letter of support from your line manager, HoD or supervisor confirming eligibility to take up the fellowship if awarded; and,
  • a writing sample produced for a non-academic audience (if available).
    Please combine documents into one PDF where possible.

Deadline for applications: 12pm Monday 28 February 2022

Applications should be sent to CAPE Coordinator: [emailprotected]

Interviews are expected to be held in the week commencing 14th March with the fellowship starting as soon as possible thereafter.

For any queries linked to the fellowship, please contact CAPE coordinator Jenny Hasenfuss [emailprotected]. For more specific questions on the remit of the project, please contact the Evidence and Partnerships Hub in MoJ at [emailprotected].

Data security considerations

The successful candidate will be required to have passed a Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) and DBS check before starting the project. In addition, the successful candidate will need to be able to demonstrate that they will store all data in accordance with data protection legislation and current OSC/MoJ data security procedures. Read MOJ security guidance.

The issues will be discussed prior to starting the project and will cover all relevant aspects including: how information will be collected, accessed, managed and analysed; how it will be stored/storage location; secure transfer of information; disposal of information following completion of the project.

Working arrangements

It is expected that the successful candidate will be based remotely to begin with due to current Covid-19 working restrictions. There will be opportunities (subject to Covid regulations) to work with the HMI Probation and MoJ teams in Manchester, London and potentially Leeds. The successful candidate will also be expected to participate in regular touchpoint meetings between the analytical teams in MoJ and the Inspectorate to ensure the smooth delivery of work, either virtually or face-to-face.

For an informal discussion or for any queries linked to the fellowship, please contact us at [emailprotected]. For more specific questions on the remit of the project, please contact the Evidence and Partnerships Hub in MoJ at [emailprotected].

Organisational context – about the Ministry of Justice the HM Inspectorate of Probation

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ)

The Ministry of Justice is a major government department, working to protect and advance the principles of justice and deliver a world-class justice system that works for everyone. Our responsibilities are significant, wide-ranging and have implications for some of the most vulnerable people in society. These range from building and maintaining the prisons, youth and court estates, to developing interventions that reduce reoffending and protect the public, to ensuring children’s needs are put first in legal decisions about their care.

Data and Analysis is a multi-disciplinary team of around 400 staff that sits at the heart of the MoJ providing analytical support across a diverse and exciting agenda. The team support policy development and operational delivery with cutting-edge and high-impact analysis delivered by a community of analysts and specialists including, social researchers, economists, operational researchers, statisticians, data engineers, data scientists and other data specialists (such as data strategists, data dissemination and assurance experts). The Evidence and Partnerships Hub within Data and Analysis, who are facilitating the MoJ partnership with CAPE, aims to enhance the department’s research capabilities by collaborating with external experts, helping to transform the way evidence is used to generate policy insights.

HM Inspectorate of Probation

HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of probation and youth offending services in England and Wales. Its mission is to promote positive changes in these services, with its recommendations, research and effective practice guidance driving improvements at individual, local and national levels. The Inspectorate is committed to reviewing, developing and promoting the evidence base for high-quality probation and youth offending services. The Inspectorate’s research team provides a research and analytical function with responsibility for:

  • reviewing and contributing to the policy and operational evidence base for probation and youth offending services
  • ensuring that inspection standards, organisational positions and effective practice products are evidence based
  • providing technical advice so that inspections are as robust and impactful as possible.

CAPE Policy Fellowships

CAPE is a partnership between UCL and the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Northumbria and Nottingham, in collaboration with the Government Office for Science, the Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, and the Transforming Evidence Hub, funded by Research England.

It is a 4-year project created to support effective and sustained engagement between academics and policy professionals across the higher education sector.

Read more about CAPE.

[1] Probation inspection standards (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk) 2.6.1 Do early outcomes demonstrate that reasonable progress has been made, in line with the personalised needs of the person on probation?

[2] Dr Gemma Morgan, Swansea University.

[3] See also https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2019/11/Academic-Insights-Wong.pdf

[4] When developing an outcomes framework for children’s social care, the MVP principles were used for appropriate outcome indicators. See – https://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/project/measuring-outcomes-for-childrens-social-care-services


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