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The What Works Initiative

The What Works Initiative

The 'What Works' initiative sets out the way the Probation Service should work to prevent re-offending and protect the public. The introduction of What Works coincided with the creation of the National Probation Service in 2001, and marked a sea-change in probation practice up and down the country. The main aim of the What Works initiative is simply to reduce re-offending. In 2001 the Home Secretary set the National Probation Service the target of reducing re-offending by 5%: a target that would prevent 260,000 crimes.

National and international research has shown which approaches have the best chance of success. The approach the probation service uses aims to change the attitudes of offenders. Hundreds of offenders now attend programmes every day – either in prison or in the community.

The Basic Principles of What Works

  • Work with offenders should be based on evidence of what will reduce re-offending
  • Work should be coherent and planned
  • Work should be based on consistent assessment, and to a consistent standard throughout England and Wales
  • Work should be accessible and effective for all groups of offenders including those from ethnic minorities, women, and those with disabilities
  • In addition, work on social factors is an essential element of any supervision plan