Case Study - Home Office: Evaluation of alcohol arrest referral pilots

Client: Home Office
Sector: central government
Services delivered: evaluation

Safe. Sensible. Social

Studies in Britain, the United States and Australia have demonstrated the beneficial impact of ‘brief interventions’ on reducing excessive alcohol consumption, particularly in primary care settings. As part of Safe, Sensible, Social – the next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy, the Government decided to evaluate the impact that the approach could have in the criminal justice area.

The approach involves referring offenders arrested for alcohol-related offences for a ‘brief intervention’ to assess drinking behaviour, the health risks to the individual and provide help and advice on reducing their drinking consumption. Risk Solutions, working with its partners from the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University and SPN Associates, was appointed to conduct an evaluation of four pilot schemes set up by the Home Office. The project is due to end in July 2009.

Our evaluation methodology, which was subject to ethics committee approval, involves structured interviewing, collecting alcohol arrest and cost information, and observing interventions. A systematic analysis is being done of both the qualitative and quantitative information gathered during the field work. This information will be analysed to assess the impact that the schemes have had in terms of reducing harmful drinking, improving health and reducing re-offending.

Data capture and analysis is essential to quantify the number of referrals, interventions delivered and resulting benefits. In particular, the analysis will consider whether particular types of offender (e.g. age, gender, type of offence) are more receptive to alcohol arrest referral schemes.

Ultimately, we need to assess whether the pilot schemes are delivering value for money by comparing the cost of providing the interventions with the benefits measured in terms of improved health and reduced re-offending.