Research strategy paper
KSS CRC Research Unit
About the Research Unit
The KSS CRC Research Unit was established in the summer of 2018. The Unit sits within the Excellence and Effectiveness Directorate of the CRC, thus maintaining an ethos of quality development underpinned by organisational values. It currently comprises two full-time researchers operating within a framework of senior management oversight and research governance. The Unit, though still in its first year, has undertaken a range of research and evaluation projects, with a number of longer term projects planned for 2019 and beyond. Though the Research Unit is part of KSS CRC, it operates largely independently in that its outcomes and agendas are not tied into the financial targets of the company.
Research and evaluation strategy[i]
The current strategic approach encompasses the years 2019 to 2024. This five-year strategy involves the planned delivery of a selection of short, medium and longer-term research and evaluation projects. The strategic focus within projects is twofold in nature. Firstly, that of examining the relationship between front-facing staff and service users, with a view to better understanding the relational dynamics within the supervision process and desistance journey. Learning from this should assist in improving the professional practice of front-line staff. Secondly, to examine organisational systems, processes and structures that support front-line practice, with a view to enhancing delivery of service.
Evaluations of organisational processes and programmes form an integral part of the research strategy. These will focus primarily on the operational delivery of key programmes and policies devised to address offending and promote desistance (please see below). Initial formative evaluation projects are designed to be revisited within the five-year period of the current strategy.
The work of the Research Unit is directed largely by the following objectives,
- Plan and undertake research that is relevant to KSS CRC with a view to increasing quality of practice, or identifying other ways it might benefit the organisation
- Disseminate research widely to ensure reach and impact
- Develop, maintain and promote the identity of the KSS CRC Research Unit
- To attend national and international events relating to probation practice, and other relevant fields
- To ensure a commitment to enhanced ethical practice when conducting research (see attached research ethics document).
Commitment to research
The newly formed Research Unit demonstrates KSS CRC’s ongoing commitment to research and evaluation that promotes best practice within probation services, with a conviction to openly share knowledge and understanding of what works within probation interventions. Engaging with the wider research community through professional liaison, academic involvement, contributions to conferences, publications and social media platforms, represents the CRC’s long-term approach to contributing to the desistance literature and empirical research base. This engagement includes working closely with voluntary sector organisations such as the Probation Institute and service user groups such as User Voice.
The Research Unit works closely with the already established CRC Business Intelligence Unit (BIU) when research projects call for data sharing and analysis. Additionally, being located within the Excellence and Effectiveness Directorate of the CRC, the Unit liaises closely with, for example, others undertaking internal audits or staff training roles. It is also the intention of the Research Unit to encourage all CRC staff to engage where possible in research projects. To this end a practitioner research group will be established. This group will be offered ongoing training and guidance.
Current research examples
Below are some examples of our current and past research projects. For past research projects, check our website for details http://ksscrc.co.uk/research.
- The role of the Women’s Lead Responsible Officer – a project to come out of KSS CRC’s Women’s Strategy, this research (commencing spring 2019) will comprise a detailed exploration of the Women’s Lead role. It is hoped that with a more robust and nuanced understanding of what is required of a Women’s Lead Officer, the CRC will be better equipped to recruit and retain staff in the role, and better able to provide a quality service to the female service-users it impacts upon.
- The Family Engagement Project (FEP) – starting in late 2018, the FEP is exploring the ways in which families might contribute to a service-users’ rehabilitation process/probation journey. Gathering views from staff, service-users and families of service-users, we are looking at how KSS CRC currently engages with families and considering what more could be done to improve this practice in future.
Evaluations undertaken by the Research Unit are designed to examine the resources invested within KSS CRC programmes and functional processes, the front-line application of such programmes, and the outputs and outcomes resulting from these established interventions. Evaluations will be formative and summative in nature, depending on the focus of the investigation. Formative evaluations will help to shape the development of programme and processes, whilst summative evaluations will measure the impact of various interventions. They will occur within the timeframe of the current strategy period. This will provide for an ongoing examination of key intervention programmes and processes.
Values and ethical considerations
Research and evaluation within KSS CRC is founded upon the values of the organisation, such as inclusion, openness, honesty and fairness. The senior management team offer research project governance whilst all practical and ethical considerations within projects are maintained by the newly established research steering group. This is currently formed of a combination of external consultants, external academics, CRC quality development officers, CRC front-line practitioners, and CRC data assurance staff.
Research findings, reports and articles will be disseminated through a variety of avenues including,
- focus on practice sessions, practitioner workshops, team events, etc.
- website and Research Unit micro-site
- CJS workshops/symposiums (these will build upon the foundation created by three recent inter-agency workshops held at Gravesend office, exploring as they did the subjects of probation values, probation identity, and the contemporary role of probation in the CJS)
- social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
- trade journals such as Probation Quarterly magazine (two articles have been published to date) and the Criminal Justice Bulletin
- academic journals such as the Probation Journal
- Confederation of European Probation internal and external media platforms (the CRC holds organisational membership of the CEP)
- local, national and international conferences/symposiums.
Coley, D. (2019). SPoC in the Dock. Probation Quarterly, Issue 11, 9-12. http://probation-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/PQ11.pdf
Coley, D. (2018). Reflective Practice and Questions of Identity. Probation Quarterly, Issue 8, 16-17. http://probation-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/PQ8.pdf
Ellis Devitt, K. (2018). The Rise of the Far-Right Terrorist: Reconceptualising risk in probation practice. Probation Quarterly, Issue 10, 22-26. http://probation-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/PQ10.pdf
KSS CRC Research Unit
[i] Please note, this paper is a live document and the current strategy will be revisited on an annual basis with a view to implementing any potential additions and improvements. This is particularly in light of the evolution and possible expansion of the Research Unit.