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University of Oxford

Centre for Criminology & Probation Studies Unit


Dr Colin H. Roberts
Head of Probation Studies Unit
Centre for Criminology
University of Oxford

November 2005


Amongst those who are involved in the criminal justice business it is a well known fact that a large
percentage of crime is committed by a very small group of offenders. The actual figures vary
from one research project to another but what does not vary is the tantalising fact that if the
offending behaviour of this small group could be stopped, or at the very least reduced
significantly, then we would see a very significant reduction in crime. This group of offenders are
often well known to police officers and it is the same names which frequently occur at police
operational briefings or in custody suites around the country. Although police officers have been
aware of this group for some time the fact of the matter is the police service is being driven more
and more along the line of short termism in the pursuit of a wide swath of key performance
indicators. Whilst many of us, me included, welcome this new focus on performance within the
service it is very easy to be drawn into the quest for short term gains in terms of response and
detections but simply not have time for some of the longer term investments necessary to achieve
sustainable reductions in crime.

The Iris Project at Oxford was born out of frustration in the minds of officers around the same
group of offenders appearing on our briefing sheets day after day. In many ways Oxford was the
ideal place to start a project such as this, largely because the city has a wide range of
organisations, some statutory and some voluntary, that also seemed to be dealing with the same
individuals. The other key ingredient was the close working relationship which had developed
over time between the police and those other agencies. What was needed was a commitment to
a common goal and a leader to drive forward that commitment. Pat Peters, a civilian manager
within Oxford Police took on the leadership role and has been the driving force behind Iris ever
since. Pat brought together a small team, including members of staff from the Police Service,
Probation Service, SMART, local Drug Action Team(DAT), Oxford City Council, H.M. Prison
Service and the local Magistrates Court. The team then focused on their list of offenders.

The final piece of the jigsaw was to seek independent evaluation of the project. Again, in many
ways Oxford was well positioned having as one of its near neighbours the Centre for Criminology,
part of the University of Oxford. Dr Colin Roberts took on the task and we are grateful for the
work he has done in providing us with the empirical evidence needed to drive this forward
throughout the Thames Valley Police area. The police service has a history of developing
initiatives and declaring them to be a success without any real academic basis for that assertion.
I believe the Iris Project has made a significant difference to the offending pattern of a number of
key criminals in Oxford, it has contributed significantly to the crime reduction trend in the city and
those assertions are based on the academic research Dr Colin Roberts has carried out into the

Chief Superintendent Dave McWhirter


This report is the result of a collaborative effort sustained over nearly two years to carefully trace the
development and first year’s operation of the IRIS project, and examine any early indications and evidence
of its relative effectiveness. This report could not have been produced if the IRIS team had not all been so
open and willing to constantly answer questions and provide detailed information and data on all aspects of
their work. I am particularly appreciative of the time and help provided by WPC Sian Jones, Debbie Brind,
Tracey Goodhew (Probation Officer), WPC Mel Duce, PC Stuart Teasdale, PC Glenn Macrae, and Sarah
Nelson (Probation Officer), who all contributed hugely to the detail in this report. I also was helped
tremendously by the full support and backing of the Divisional Commander Dave McWhirter, who wrote
the preface to this report and who has throughout shown the greatest commitment to critically examining all
aspects of IRIS and reporting on it fully. Many other police officers of all ranks, some of whom I
interviewed, were also very co-operative and helpful. A number of civilian staff in the St Aldates police
station were also very supportive in providing information and analysing local police data, in particular Mrs
Cheryl Woodward, the Senior Finance Manager, Mr David Simmonds, the Performance Researcher and
Mr Daniel Bowden, the Divisional Senior Performance Manager. From the outset the willingness of Pat
Peters, who had overall responsibility for the development of IRIS, to support this research and enable me
to complete the work has been critical, and we all wish her well in her recent retirement. Finally but most
especially I have to acknowledge my debt of gratitude to the work done by the team leader Sgt Emma
Garside, who not only in made her time so readily available, but who also undertook a large amount of
extra work so willingly to get material, evidence and data together, and who made an essential contribution
to the completion of this report.

Colin H. Roberts

November 2005

Foreword …………………………………………………………………………... 2
Acknowledgements …………………………………………………….…………. 3
1 Introduction .………………………………………………………………… 5
2 Evaluation, Consultancy and Research methodology ……………….. 7
3 Descriptive evaluation of the first year’s operation …………………. 7
4 The characteristics of the first year IRIS offenders and the
comparison group cases ………………..……………. …………..…….. 8
5 Comparisons of offending before and after the start of IRIS …….. 15
6 Compliance with court orders, specific sentences and prison
licences …………………………………………………………………….. 18
7 Intelligence reports and stop checks …………………………………. 19
8 IRIS contacts with the offenders and their presenting problems .… 21
9 Four IRIS case studies ………………………………………………….. 24
10 Offender perspectives on IRIS …………………………………………. 29
11 Interviews with police officers in Oxford about IRIS ………………. 31
12 The contribution of IRIS to the levels of recorded and detected
crimes in the Oxford Local Police Area ………………………………. 34
13 The estimated costs of IRIS and its overall cost benefits .…………. 38
14 Conclusions ………………………………………………………………. 46

References ……………………………………………………………………….. 48

1. Introduction
The Intensive Recidivist Intervention Scheme (IRIS) is a prolific offender (PO) project conceived and
managed by the Thames Valley Police, in collaboration with the Thames Valley Probation Area. During
the first year of operation the project focused on offenders living in the Oxford Local Police Area, and was
run from the Police Station in Oxford (St Aldates).

The project had two major aims when it commenced in September 2003.

1. To reduce the number of acquisitive crimes committed in the Oxford area by the targetted IRIS
offenders and thereby helping to protect the public by limiting the harm to victims within the

2. To develop in the IRIS scheme participants a sense of personal responsibility, by encouraging them to
improve their life skills and increase their levels of victim empathy.

It also had six specified objectives:

• Identification of IRIS offenders within the area by a scoring system;

• Informing IRIS offenders of their status when targeted under the scheme;
• Provide intensive supervision to bring about changes in behaviour and attitudes to offending;
• Exchange information with partner organisations to reduce the potential rate and seriousness of any re-
• Ensure a swift response to any relapses, whether re-offending or non-compliance with statutory
requirements or conditions;
• Provide information to courts about IRIS offenders to assist in bail and sentencing decisions.
The project was explicitly committed to ensure compliance with the European Convention on Human
Rights and UK legislation. In particular, it was committed to recognition of:

Article 6: The right to a fair trial

Article 8: Respect for private and family life

Article 5: Right to liberty.

The project has six key components;

1. The scoring of offenders from the ‘J Track’ who are known to live in Oxford, based on the number and
types of previous convictions over time. This produced a list of offenders ranked by scores, who were
added each month to the IRIS caseload on a priority basis, after discussion in the IRIS team.

2. Once identified as achieving a suitably high score, the offenders’ current status and situation are
checked via police, probation and prison service information systems. All offenders who are on the IRIS
list for the first time then receive a personal visit from an IRIS team member, informing them about the
scheme with a written letter about the implications for them. These meetings can take place in community
locations (e.g. home, probation office, police station, hostel) or in prison (remanded or sentenced)

3. Depending on the individual offender’s response to the initial contact from an IRIS team member,
different things can occur. If an offender refuses voluntary contact, they remain on the list and may be
subject to surveillance or other forms of police investigation. If the offender indicates a willingness to be
involved voluntarily, individual arrangements are made for regular contact with the IRIS team. If the

offender is subject to statutory supervision of any kind, or is on licence from prison, requirements for
statutory contact with IRIS can be added to existing supervision or release plans.

4. The form of help, support or supervision provided by the IRIS team can vary greatly from practical
help or assistance, to counselling and emotional support. Each offender has a named IRIS team member as
their ‘key’ worker, but is likely to have contact with all other team members. Keeping direct contact with
partners, family members and workers from agencies who are also working with the offender, is a critical
element of the role of the IRIS team. IRIS team members check daily for any information or intelligence on
possible criminal behaviour or suspicious activities or contacts from police sources.

5. Regular team reviews are undertaken (at least weekly) of all current offenders. Changes in approach or
type of work are discussed and critical decisions about recall, arrests, and formal warnings are taken
collectively. Changes to ‘key’ workers are discussed and if necessary agreed. Formal notifications to other
partner agencies are agreed collectively by the team.

6. If offenders are re-arrested, charged, or appear in court for breaches of community sentences or licences,
IRIS team members will usually visit the offender in police custody and attend court, and provide written
reports where requested or where it is deemed necessary. Such occasions provide opportunities for
continued work with offenders and influence over court orders (e.g. bail decisions) and sentences. Even if
the outcome is custodial, the IRIS team will continue contact with the offender to plan future pre-release

In October 2002 the Home Office launched a “Narrowing the Justice Gap “(NJG) strategy for all criminal
justice organisations to work together to ensure more offenders were caught, convicted, punished and
rehabilitated. Part of this development was the establishment of the Persistent Offender (PO) Scheme and
the introduction of a web-based computer system called J Track, based on data from the Police National
Computer (PNC), in all police force areas. This flags all those offenders who meet the nationally
determined definition of a PO and produces lists of these offenders in each Police Basic Command Unit
(BCU). In November 2003 the national PO scheme was reviewed by PA Consulting, and the National
Policing Plan 2004-7 required local police forces to have plans for working with persistent and prolific
offenders. In December 2003 the Carter Report recommended that persistent offenders should be more
rigorously targeted, be subject to greater control and surveillance, but also be helped to reduce their
offending. These proposals are now part of the responsibility of the newly created National Offender
Management Service (NOMS), which was the Home Office’s response ( Home Office 2004) to the
proposals in the Carter Report. In May 2004 a Joint Inspection Report examined the range of
developments and projects dealing with persistent offenders, highlighted the problems that could arise in
identifying and in prioritising them, but concluded that there was emerging evidence that such interventions
could have a positive influence on crime reduction and have rehabilitative effects.

Intensive projects like IRIS, focused on prolific adult offenders, are part of a movement in offender
management towards developing more effective supervision of offenders in the community, emerging from
the convergence of more intelligence-led policing and more evidence–based rehabilitation practice. So far
there have only been a small number of published independent evaluations completed on adult prolific
offender projects in the UK. The Burnley/Dordecht Initiative and the Blackpool Tower project were
evaluated by the University of Huddersfield (Chenery and Pease, 2000 & Chenery and Deakin, 2003). The
Newcastle-under- Lyme Initiative (Hope et al, 2001), and the Stoke –on–Trent Project (POP) were
evaluated by Keele University (Worrall et al, 2003). Currently fifteen Intensive Supervision and
Monitoring Projects (ISMs) for adult offenders across England and Wales are being evaluated by the
Home Office (Dawson 2005) and the full findings of this larger scale piece of work will make an important
further contribution to the development of work with persistent and prolific offenders.

2. Evaluation, Consultancy and Research Methodology
The intention was to provide an independent formative evaluation of the IRIS project, with the evaluator
providing on-going feedback and consultancy. The period of the evaluation was from September 2003 to
the end of December 2004.

The formative type of evaluation undertaken required the close monitoring of all aspects of the project on a
regular basis; eighteen separate study visits were made over a sixteen month period. I have been able to
collect a wide range of information via these regular contacts with the project. They have involved direct
observation and participation in team meetings, and informal interviews with all the IRIS team members
individually. Informal discussion with team members and other staff about individual cases and other
project related issues has been possible, as have been semi-structured interviews about all cases. It has been
possible to collect more detailed case information and to influence what data is routinely collected by the
team. Direct observations of the team at work in the police station has provided evidence of the type of
demands made on the team, and the range of discussions and exchanges that take place with police
colleagues, information exchange with other agencies, and the variety of offender contacts and interactions.

It was possible to interview twelve of the twenty offenders by telephone with their prior consent, but none
of the interviews was recorded, as part of the undertaking given to secure consent by the offenders. It was
also possible to collect data from a comparison group of offenders from Oxford who have similar offending
characteristics, but have not been IRIS cases. Most importantly, it was feasible to do a detailed analysis of
the before and after experiences of both the IRIS and comparison group offenders, both in terms of their
offending histories, and in terms of their previous responses and compliance with supervision, licences and
other court orders.

3. Descriptive evaluation of the first year’s operation.

Through regular visits to the IRIS office, on going and regular discussions with the team and direct
observation of their work, it was possible was able to reach initial conclusions about how well the IRIS
project worked, during its first year of operation. It has also been possible to examine how well it has
been able to achieve its stated aims and objectives.

Organisational structure and systems

One of the fundamental purposes of a formative evaluation is to focus attention on the establishment of
systems in a project to deliver the aims and objectives of it. It also assists in better understanding the
outputs and outcomes that are achieved and how different processes have supported or not their

From my direct observations of the IRIS project, I think it is possible to conclude that after more than
twelve months of operation, it has been able to develop some excellent basic operating systems for the
delivery of its aims and objectives. From the beginning there was a clear understanding of what the key
elements of the project would be, and a collective will in the team to ensure they were fully and properly
implemented in day to day practice. There has so far been little overall project drift or slippage from the
original objectives. Other than the voluntary transfer of one of the police officers and the later resignation
of the first probation officer (to take up post in London), there have been relatively few staff changes and
hardly any modifications to the original delivery plan.

IRIS scores in the first twelve months
In the first six months of the project, approximately 660 individual offenders who appeared on the ‘J Track’
list for offenders resident in the Oxford were ‘scored’ by the IRIS team. In the first month, 5 offenders were
deemed eligible with scores from 62 to 218; in subsequent eleven months the average number of newly
eligible cases has been between 2 and 3 per month. The highest individual score was 551 (the next highest
was 218, followed by 194, 186, 152, 137 and 111). The lowest score accepted by IRIS was 34. By May
2004, only 20 offenders had been identified as eligible for IRIS, only a small proportion of the J Track list
of core persistent offenders (CPOs). All the offenders also had recent histories of non-compliance with
court orders, community sentences and prison licences.

Scoring of offenders – Identification of eligible prolific offenders

The system devised for use by IRIS for scoring prolific offenders initially identified from the ‘J Track’ list
was well thought out before the project commenced and was consistently applied for the first nine months.
Such a system will always be subject to pressure for modification due to national demands, local priorities
and targets, and operational pressures. After nine months of operation some limited changes were made to
the scoring which appear to be perfectly logical. The score changes do not appear to have greatly affected
the eligibility and suitability of cases for IRIS. The IRIS scoring system compares well in terms of validity,
reliability and justifiable evidence with other police force systems.

The system of scoring is applied firstly to the ‘J Track’ list and has demanded a considerable amount of
work by one of the police officers in the IRIS team (between 2 and 3 full working days per month). In the
latter part of the first year of operation it was decided to undertake the scoring less frequently, and now it is
done quarterly. However this rigorous approach to scoring has been shown to produce an excellent
identification outcome and will need strong organisational support to ensure it is rigorously maintained
when IRIS is extended to other parts of the Thames Valley Police Area.

Nature of initial IRIS Involvement

Of the first twenty cases, fourteen had initial contact with IRIS on a voluntary basis, in most instances on
release from prison. A number of these initial voluntary cases became statutory consequent upon
convictions and new sentences during the IRIS contact, but in three cases this was for offences which had
been committed prior to IRIS contact. Of the remaining six cases, two were subject to Young Offender
Institution (YOI) licences on release; one was on an Automatic Conditional Release (ACR) licence, and the
three remaining were on existing Community Rehabilitation Orders (CRO), and Drug Treatment and
Testing Orders (DTTO).

Subsequently the proportion of offenders on community sentence (CROs and DTTOs) with IRIS
requirements, and on licences from custody with IRIS conditions has increased. A significant number of the
community sentences and licences subject to probation supervision were held by the probation officer in
the IRIS team. In a small number of cases the probation supervision was initially still held by other
probation staff, but the major element of supervision was undertaken by the IRIS team.

The IRIS project gradually increased the proportion of cases under statutory supervision and reduced the
proportion on voluntary contact. The voluntary contact remains important for some cases, particularly those
released from custody subject to no licence conditions. Some cases have been released under the Home
Detention Curfew Scheme (HDC) and are therefore subject to electronic monitoring for relatively limited
periods of time.

Nature of IRIS support work with offenders

Of the first twenty cases the majority have shown at least some willingness to engage with the support
offered by the IRIS team and its links with other agencies. Accommodation problems have resulted in
extensive work being done with some offenders, including arrangements with the local probation hostel,
and other accommodation projects in the city and surrounding Oxford. Drug abuse was an issue for the

majority of the offenders, and many of them were prescribed Methadone or Subutex1 users. Therefore the
IRIS team was in close contact with a wide variety of sources of help, both specialist projects and local
GPs. For six months the IRIS team purchased the part-time direct support of an employee of the Substance
Misuse Arrest Referral Team (SMART), who visited the IRIS office weekly and did direct referral work for
some of the IRIS offenders. All of the offenders were unemployed when they commenced IRIS, and the
majority had long standing problems with their finances. The IRIS team discussed with all the offenders
their needs in respect of basic education, training and job finding, but initially many needed to become
more stable in their drug usage and/or to have secure accommodation, before provision of education,
training or employment could be of long term value to them.

Initial contacts with identified offenders

As far as I could determine from the written records, the information system and informal discussions, all
identified offenders who were identified as eligible for IRIS were seen and given copies of the IRIS
introductory letter. This was in itself a considerable achievement for the project. The IRIS team have
produced, with assistance from the local authority and their own police colleagues, a well designed PC
based information system for holding data on each individual offender. This system supports the entry of
information from probation, prisons and other agencies. The time lining technique for each offender which
details their offending history and future events also provides an excellent basic form of information, which
can be used for both case studies and quantitative analysis of cases. This information system provides the
basis for continuing records of contact with IRIS team and other significant events.

The overall response of offenders to initial contacts was largely positive, with none refusing to participate
at all. However, while in a small number of noteworthy cases the voluntary nature of the work with IRIS
has proved effective, in the majority of cases evidence from the project suggests strongly that contact and
progress are more likely to be maintained if the offender is either subject to a form of community
supervision or is on licence on release from custody. The IRIS team has been endeavouring to get such
statutory requirements for contact with IRIS in all the cases in which it appears feasible. The only
exceptions have been cases in which lengthy custodial sentences are probable or outright refusal to co-
operate has been clearly indicated. Even in these cases however the cases have remained on the IRIS list.

There were some initial communication problems with the local probation team about the possible
transferring of the supervision of cases to the IRIS probation officer. Some individual probation staff
appeared reluctant to accept the IRIS project’s potential value to prolific offenders, but no problems of this
kind were reported in the second part of the first year of operation.

Wide range of activities and work done with IRIS offenders

From the outset, all IRIS team members have been involved in a very wide range of activity with individual
offenders. In many cases, the regular contacts in a variety of locations have involved the use of inter-
personal skills of counselling, active listening, reassurance, advice giving and on occasions challenges to
statements and behaviour. As the records demonstrate, the characteristics of the offenders are varied; some
have poor communication skills, are immature and have limited intellectual ability, but others are highly
intelligent, are good communicators who expect thoughtful verbal exchanges and are interested in detailed
discussions. All members of the IRIS team have had to use their interpersonal and communication skills
widely, at times in demanding situations and difficult circumstances.

In addition to the direct one-to-one work, there have also been a wide range of referrals to and contact with
other agencies. Probably the most common have been drugs projects, accommodation and housing, training
and employment, and health services (GP and hospitals). On many occasions IRIS staff have accompanied
offenders to these locations. In addition, IRIS staff have regularly been in contact with partners, ex-
partners, parents, children, with other family members who themselves have had involvement with the
criminal justice system and in some cases with other known offenders.

Subutex is a synthetic narcotic analgesic used as a substitute for treating addictions.

Some of the offenders were clearly manipulative and exploited opportunities to distract or challenge IRIS
staff. Others however had poor understanding of boundaries and the nature of appropriate relationships
with IRIS team members. Consequently the interpersonal work with the offenders has been challenging and
demanding for all the team. The variable quality and professionalism of the work of other agencies made
the work of the IRIS team difficult and frustrating at times. Open communication channels within the team
have been observed to be an essential feature of assisting individual team members to maintain professional
and effective contact with offenders and other agencies.

Team functioning and working relationships

One of the most impressive features of the IRIS team comes from observations of their working style. This
was an all-female team during most of the first year of operations, which may itself have influenced the
team dynamics, but there is a strong team work ethos which gets communicated to all offenders, visitors,
police and probation colleagues, and in dealings with other agencies (drug teams, housing, health services).
The five team members not only fully understood the approach adopted by IRIS, but were able to embrace
it in their direct work with offenders. This does not mean however that they did not experience some of the
offenders and their partners/families as trying and difficult to work with in a positive manner. It is in these
particular circumstances that the strong team ethos was clearly at its most important, as it helped in the
pursuit of common objectives and the particular focus of work with individual offenders. New team
members have to be carefully selected and inducted into this strong team model of work.

Court reports, court attendance and work with prisons

The role of IRIS in the local magistrates and Crown courts has developed slowly, largely because of normal
delays in processing offenders subject to IRIS supervision. By the end of March the IRIS team was
responsible for a growing number of pre-sentence reports written by the team probation officer, and were
developing a style of presentation in them which accurately reflected the specific elements of the IRIS type
of supervision. As far as I am aware, all proposals made by the IRIS team have been followed in the orders
and sentences passed in both the magistrates and Crown courts.

The IRIS team has also played a significant role in bail/remand decisions. In all instances when an IRIS
offender appeared for a bail/remand hearing the team would have completed a written report (MG7)
provided to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) containing up to date information on their circumstances.
In almost every case a member of the IRIS team would attend the court hearing, in many instances giving
evidence to support bail applications and frequently indicating to the court their willingness to supervise
and enforce specific conditions of bail, including bail hostel conditions.

IRIS team members developed good working relationships with the local prisons. Constant changes in the
prison service allocation practices initially created difficulties. Changes in allocations to YOIs have resulted
in many of the local young adult offenders completing their sentences in Reading. The IRIS team had to be
vigilant in observing changes in prison allocation practices and was able to quickly establish good working
relationships with governors and other key staff in prisons and YOIs. During the first year of operation the
Prison Service introduced designated officers in all establishments to maintain information on persistent
offenders, as part of their persistent offender policy. This has enabled quicker and more consistent
information sharing, and has greatly assisted in the enforcement of licences and HDCs. The quality of
exchanges with HMP Bullingdon, the local prison for adult offenders, provides an excellent example of the
benefits of improved information sharing for both the prison and local offender management programmes
in the community like IRIS. Slower progress has been made in the provision of other forms of prison
intelligence to IRIS, to assist in improved knowledge of potential offending on release from custody,
particularly about co-defendants and criminal associations inside prison establishments.

Partnership work colleagues and other agencies

The partnership with the local probation area was slow to develop, hence the delays in the initial
appointment of a probation officer to IRIS. Issues concerning the supervision and accountability of the
probation officer member of the IRIS team have been satisfactorily agreed and are in operation. The initial
reticence of some staff in Thames Valley Probation Area appears to have largely disappeared. The working

relationship with the Drug Testing and Treatment Order (DTTO) team has been strong throughout, and
IRIS seems able to work well with the DTTO ethos and work practices.

The role of IRIS within local police provision appears to be well established. Information exchange appears
to occurring naturally and regularly between IRIS and other police units (eg uniform beat officers and
burglary, vehicle crime and other special units). I have directly observed information and intelligence
exchange in the police station. Photographs and up-to-date information on IRIS offenders can be observed
in various locations in the police station. The project has strong senior management support from the
Divisional Commander downwards. Sgt. Garside attends fortnightly tasking and co-ordination meetings
(T&CG) and IRIS recommendations on ‘tasking’ appear to be strongly supported by concerted surveillance
and other policing activities locally when required.

Relationships with other key local agencies have developed quickly. One of the civilian team members has
prime responsibility for the links with drugs, accommodation and housing, training and employment and
health. But all the team members have direct contact with these and other agencies and therefore share a
wide range of contacts and experiences of liaison with them. Problems with accommodation are
considerable because of the nature of the local housing market. The team has gradually developed links
with agencies away from Oxford that offer assistance to particular types of need. They have developed
good links with specific residential drug rehabilitation units, most notably with Sefton Park at Weston-
Super-Mare, where most IRIS offenders have been resident.

Work with other agencies needs constant attention from the IRIS team, due to frequent personnel changes
in some agencies, and because of the specific needs of individual IRIS offenders.

Continuing offending, non-compliant behaviour and previous

Given the offending histories of all the offenders on IRIS, it was not surprising that many continued to be
involved in a criminal lifestyle. In a small number of instances the contact with IRIS has led directly to
information about further offences and on a few occasions IRIS staff have themselves arrested offenders on
warrants and for prison recalls. In a number of cases IRIS offenders have shown a desire to have previous
offences dealt with properly, and in these cases police officers in the Prison Intervention Unit (PIU) at St
Aldates have been able to formally record these offences.

During the first year of operation of IRIS, eleven of the twenty offenders admitted to some offences which
had occurred before they started on IRIS. One offender admitted to a total of 34 separate offences which he
had committed in the twelve month period prior to his designation as an IRIS offender. Another who was
not charged or convicted of any offences once he commenced on IRIS, admitted to string of domestic house
burglaries that he had committed in a spree of offending in the six months of freedom before the prison
sentence he had served prior to IRIS. The prior offences committed by these two offenders were firstly
reported to IRIS staff who then referred them to the PIU officers, who interviewed them, took statements
and had the admitted offences dealt with formally as TICs.

Six of the offenders were arrested and charged with offences which had actually occurred prior to their
designation as an IRIS offender, and in each instance they were convicted in court and sentenced during the
first year of the operation of IRIS.

4. The characteristics of the first year IRIS offenders and
the comparison group cases
The first 20 offenders identified by the IRIS scoring system were the most criminally active known
offenders in Oxford in that time period. They were informed from September 2003 onwards of their status
as highly recidivistic and prolific offenders, and from then were subject to IRIS oversight. Of the twenty,
two were women and one was from a minority ethnic group.

It was possible to construct retrospectively a comparative sample of another fourteen persistent offenders
(including two women) who were also active in crime, and who had previous criminal careers which were
also largely based in the Oxford Local Police Area. They had been scored on the IRIS matrix, but had at the
time not scored as highly as the IRIS cases, and had therefore not been subject to any IRIS intervention
work or surveillance. They matched reasonably well with the IRIS group, but had on average lower IRIS
scores and slightly lower Offender Group Reconviction Scores (OGRS2), originally created for the Home
Office by Copas (1995). The key comparative factors are shown in Table 4A. Wherever appropriate, they
are used in the evaluation as a comparison with the offenders from the IRIS group.

The key data and variables collected from the IRIS group were obtained from the IRIS record systems
(including some also used by the National Probation Service e.g. OASys scores). Thames Valley Police
information was also available on the computer system for all the comparison group cases, but not the
detailed IRIS records or any probation data. It was possible however for the author to calculate OGRS
scores for them all from PNC records and the OASys ( Home Office, 2002) offending scores. Information
on both the IRIS cases and the comparison cases has been monitored over a maximum twelve month period
in this evaluation, but not all the IRIS or comparison offenders have been at liberty for a full twelve
months. Some of the calculations were therefore based on the length the individual offenders had been at
liberty and able to commit the full range of criminal offences.

The evaluation data used in this report is derived from records of previous criminal activity in the two year
period immediately before their IRIS start date or its equivalent for comparison cases, and therefore
includes time when the offender may not have been at liberty. In the evaluation therefore the number and
type of offences which are known to have occurred (including offences taken into consideration (TIC)) for
each individual offender are calculated for the IRIS and comparison cases. This allows a comparison to be
made for each individual offender in terms of number, type and gravity of offences occurring before IRIS
and post IRIS, and for the comparison group of offenders - pre autumn 2003, and post that date. The
advantages of these overlapping time periods, is that they cover both the same local police area and are
over the same time periods. This removes possible differences in policing activity or reporting of crimes by
the public at different times, and which should apply equally to the IRIS and comparison cases.

In many instances the numbers in the IRIS cases (n=20) and the comparison cases (n=14) are so small that
only descriptive quantitative analysis can be safely undertaken, but in a small number of instances
statistical analysis has been undertaken to test the statistical significance of some findings in the this
evaluation. Particular difficulties arise when attempts are made to break both the IRIS and comparison
cases into sub-groups, where because the numbers are so low the range of statistical techniques that can be
safely and reliably used are very limited. Multi-variate, cluster and regression analysis could not therefore
be applied to the data in this study. This problem commonly occurs in demonstration projects like IRIS,
where often the number of cases is naturally low to begin with, and in which methods and routines for
comprehensive data collection are in the early stages of development, and ways of measuring differences or
changes are still being designed, for future use on larger scale projects, or longer term evaluation studies.

Table 4A - Offending careers before IRIS
IRIS cases Comparison Group

• 20 offenders • 14 offenders
• average IRIS score 118 • average IRIS score 46
• average OGRS2 score 90 • average OGRS2 score 80
• 2 female; 1 BME • 2 female; 1 BME
• Ages 18 – 36: average 24 • Ages 22 – 32: average 26
Averages Averages

• age at first conviction 15.8 years • age at first conviction 18.0 years
• previous sentencing occasions 18 • previous sentencing occasions 19
• previous custody 4 • previous custody 3.5
Averages in 2 years pre-IRIS Averages in 2 years pre-IRIS

• 17-24 months at liberty • 19-24 months at liberty

• sentencing occasions 9 • sentencing occasions 5
• criminal convictions 25 • criminal convictions 16
• offences per month at liberty 1.47 • offences per month at liberty 0.84
• most serious conviction 5.2 • most serious conviction 4.5

Demographic characteristics of the IRIS and comparison cases

Two of the twenty IRIS cases were women aged 31 and 26 years old, and one male was from a minority
ethnic group (aged 23 years). Their ages varied from 18 to 36, and the mean age for all the offenders in the
IRIS group was 24 years. The majority of the IRIS cases had first convictions (and probably police cautions
or reprimands also) as teenagers, the youngest at 11 years old and the latest at age 20. The mean age of first
convictions was 15 years of age.

In the comparison cases, two of the fourteen were also women aged 26 years and 31 years old. One of the
males was from a minority ethnic group, and was originally non-British (aged 29 years old). Their ages
varied from 20 to 32, and the mean age for all offenders was 26 years. The majority of the comparison
cases had first convictions (and probably police cautions or reprimands also) as teenagers, the youngest also
at 11 years old and the last at age 23 (offender now aged 32 years old). The mean age at first conviction
was higher in the comparison group at 19 years.

Previous criminal offending histories

Information about previous known offending was obtained from the Police National Computer (PNC)
system and from the Thames Valley Police CEDAR (Crime Evaluation Data Analysis Record) system. The
twenty IRIS cases had accumulated between them prior to IRIS 362 separate previous court sentencing
occasions, a mean of 18 per offender, with a range from 8 to 36. The fourteen comparison cases had
accumulated 259 separate previous court sentencing occasions, a mean of 18.5 per offender, and a range
from 5 to 34.

The IRIS offenders had experienced between them 75 separate periods of custodial sentencing, with a range
from none (in only one case) to eight (in three cases) and the mean number of custodial sentences was 3.75.
The comparison group that had 41 separate periods of custodial sentencing, with a range from one (in one

case) to eight (in one case), and the mean number of custodial sentences was 3.5. The evaluation data
focuses on known offences in the 24 month period immediately before the IRIS matrix score was
calculated, and before they started on IRIS, or the equivalent for the comparison cases. It should be noted
that not all the offenders had been at liberty for all of those 24 months.

The IRIS matrix scores are calculated on offenders who were first identified by the J track system as
being core persistent offenders (CPOs). The IRIS matrix score is based on the offending history over the
previous 18 months at liberty. The IRIS matrix gives a numerical score which can in theory vary from 0 to
a large number, possibly in the hundreds. In these first 20 IRIS cases, the IRIS scores varied from 34 to
551, although the highest score was more than double the next highest of 218. The mean score was 118, if
the single very high score is included and 95 if that score is excluded from the calculation. In the
comparison cases, as would be expected, the overall range of scores was narrower, ranging from 34 to 64
with a mean for all 14 cases of 46, almost half of that for the IRIS offenders.

In the 24 months before their IRIS commencement, the twenty offenders had between them accumulated
269 court convictions for separate offences (indictable and non-indictable) from police charges for 345
offences, and had had 384 offences TIC, which produces a total of 729 charged and TIC offences (based
on CEDAR data). The mean number of convicted offences was 13.5 (ranging from 6 to 25), the mean
number of charged offences was 17.2 (ranging from 7 to 27) and the mean number of TIC offences was
19.2 (ranging from 0 in 5 cases to 102 in one case).

In the equivalent 24 months, the fourteen comparison group offenders had accumulated a total number of
court convictions for separate offences of 143, giving a mean number of 10.5 (ranging from 4 to 27), lower
than that for the IRIS cases. The number of charged offences was 204, and the number of TIC offences was
only 63, producing a combined total of 267 offences, a mean of 14.6 charged offences (ranging from 8 to
27) and a mean of only 4.5 for TIC offences (ranging from 0 to 16 ).

Amongst the two samples of offenders the types of offences were concentrated largely into eight sub
groups: thefts, deceptions burglaries, robberies, thefts of vehicles (TWOCs), thefts from vehicles, serious
traffic offences (including excess alcohol, dangerous and disqualified driving), criminal damage and arson.
The IRIS cases had been collectively responsible for 111 burglaries (of which 82 were domestic burglaries
and 3 were aggravated), 8 robberies and 118 TWOCs (of which 22 were aggravated). Therefore the IRIS
group had been convicted of or had admitted to a significant number of the offences that would be
recognised as serious offences. The overall gravity of the offences committed by the IRIS group achieved a
mean score of 5.2 on a range from 3 to 7 (where 9 is the highest score, equivalent to murder).

The comparison group of offenders had collectively been responsible for 34 burglaries (of which 25 had
been domestic burglaries), 3 robberies and 7 TWOCs (of which one had been aggravated). In the
comparison group the offenders had been responsible for far fewer serious offences than in the IRIS group,
and therefore the offences they had committed achieved a mean gravity score of only 4.5 on a range from 3
to 6.

Predicted Reconviction Rates

The researcher calculated each offender’s predicted rate of reconviction for indictable or triable-either-way
offences (not summary only offences), using the Home Office (OGRS 2 scores) adult group reconviction
method. This system predicts the probability of reconviction in two years, from the date of the calculation,
in % probability terms (from 0% to 99%). The IRIS cases achieved very high scores from 77% to 96% with
a mean of 90%, while the comparison cases also scored highly from 70% to 92%, but their mean score was
lower at 80%, a full 10% lower than the mean IRIS score. The researcher was able to calculate the OASys
offending scores (which is one part of a more complex predictor of subsequent probabilities of re-offending
in the OASys system). Using only the offending scores in OASys, the IRIS cases scores varied from 35 to
50 (where 50 is the maximum score that can be achieved) with a mean score of 46 for all the cases. The
range in the 14 comparison cases varied from 35 to 45, with a lower mean of 40.5.

Both these sets of calculations clearly indicated that the IRIS offenders had very high predicted
probabilities of further offending and reconvictions, significantly higher on average than those in the
comparison group of offenders.

5. Comparisons of offending before and after the start of

The same detailed information on offending was collected on both the IRIS and comparison group of
offenders, for the twelve month period after the start of the IRIS project, to enable a before and after
comparison to be made. It also made it possible to examine the changes in known offending as between the
IRIS group and the comparison group, and to explore the possible impact of the IRIS experience on those
offenders subject to it.

Table 5A provides a brief summary of the offending which is known to have occurred in the twelve months
of the first year of operation of IRIS. It compares directly the patterns for the IRIS and comparison groups
of offenders. When this is compared with some of the basic information in Table 4A in the previous
section, it can be seen that in the IRIS group there were only 51 convictions amongst all twenty offenders in
the twelve month period, compared with an average of 25 per offender in the previous 24 month period. In
the comparison group there were 55 convictions amongst fourteen offenders in the same twelve months,
compared with an average of 16 per offender in the previous 24 months.

Table 5A - Patterns of offending during first year of IRIS project

Iris Cases Comparison Group

Offences during study period Offences during study period

• Convictions 51 • Convictions 55
• Charges 57 • Charges 57
• TICs 63 • TICs 58
• Average convictions per month • Average convictions per month
at liberty 0.35 at liberty 0.49
• Average charges and tics per • Average charges and tics per
month at liberty 0.82 month at liberty 1.03

Prison Sentences Prison Sentences

• Total prison sentences 11 • Total prison sentences 8

• Prison sentences per offender 0.55 • Prison sentences per offender 0.57

Table 5B - Offending careers of the IRIS and comparison group of
offenders, before and after the start of IRIS.

IRIS Cases Comparison Group


24 Months 12 Months 24 Months 12 Months

Mean highest offence gravity

5.2 3.2 4.5 3.9
scores (HO scales)

Average court convictions per

0.76 0.35 0.53 0.49
month at liberty

Average no of charges by
0.97 0.39 0.75 0.50
police per month at liberty

Average no of tics per month

1.10 0.43 0.33 0.52
at liberty

Average offences per month at

2.07 0.82 1.08 1.03
liberty (inc tics)

The same sources of data on known criminal offending were used to examine re-offending as were used to
establish the prior offending histories of both the IRIS and comparison groups of offenders. The results
from this analysis provide both a before and after analysis but also comparisons in outcome differences
between the IRIS and comparison group (see Table 5B).

There were statistically significant reductions in the number, frequency and seriousness of known offences
committed by the IRIS offenders during the first year of the operation of IRIS. There was a 78% reduction
in thefts from vehicles, 74% reduction in TWOCs and a 48% reduction in burglaries for which IRIS
offenders were convicted and sentenced before courts. In respect of offences charged or TIC the reductions
were 66% for thefts from vehicles, 83% for TWOCs and 72% for burglaries. However there were very
large variations in the frequency and seriousness of re-offending between different individual IRIS
offenders. Some had very few known further offences and none of a serious kind, while others had
numerous known offences and some that were as or more serious as those they had committed prior to

There were also small reductions in the number, frequency and seriousness of known re-offending for some
offenders in the comparison group, but not on the scale observed in the IRIS group. In respect of burglaries
there was in a 25% reduction in the number of offences which led to court convictions and sentences, but
an 8% increase in the number of offences of this type which been charged or TIC. Again there were
variations between different individual comparison group offenders, but they were not as extensive as those
observed in the IRIS group.

Offenders commenced IRIS in successive months during the evaluation period and therefore the cases have
variable follow up periods from 7 months to 12 months. Additionally some offenders in both the IRIS and
comparison groups were not at liberty for the whole of the time, due to being remanded in custody awaiting
trial or sentence, receiving custodial sentences and/or because they had been recalled to prison or Young
Offender Institution (YOI) for breaches of their licence or curfew conditions. A rate per month at liberty
was used to provide a means of taking account of different degrees of incapacitation and the length of time
on IRIS. When comparisons are based on offences per offender per month at liberty, then in the IRIS

group the rate goes down from 2.07 per month to 0.82, a reduction of 60%. In the comparison group the
rate goes down from 1.08 per month to 1.03, a reduction of only 5%.

In the IRIS group , the 20 offenders had 47 subsequent court sentencing occasions with an average of 2.25
per offender, but ranged from none (in two cases) to six (in one case) for periods at liberty varying from
four to twelve months. In the 14 comparison cases, 31 subsequent court sentencing occasions had occurred
with an average also of 2.25 per offender, but the range was narrower from none (in two cases) to three (in
4 cases), for periods at liberty also varying from four to twelve months. The average gravity scores of these
new offences dropped in the IRIS cases to a mean of 3.2 (compared to 5.2 in the pre-IRIS, 24 month
period). In the comparison group cases the gravity scores also fell from 4.5 in the equivalent 24 months
period, to a mean of 3.9, which made their mean gravity score higher than that achieved by the IRIS

In the IRIS cases 51 separate offences had led to convictions, with a range of 0 to 7, with an average of 2.5
per offender, with 57 separate charges and a further 63 TIC offences for a total of 120 known offences
(ranging from 0 in two cases to 26 in one case). In the comparison group 55 separate offences had led to
convictions in the 14 cases, within a range also from 0 to 7, but with a higher average of 3.9 per offender.
The comparison group had received separate 56 charges and a further 67 TICs for a total of 123 known
offences (ranging from 0 in two cases to 46 in one case).

Some of the reductions between the two similar time periods that are observed in both the IRIS and
comparison groups are probably the result of “regression to the mean”, whereby extreme scores or levels of
offending at the pre-test stage move towards the lower average at the post-test stage. This phenomenon is
observed in other studies of persistent offenders, where the fact that they are selected at high peaks of
offending produces natural reductions in the period after they were selected. However there was no reason
to expect that this would occur to a greater extent in the IRIS group than in the comparison group. The IRIS
group having achieved higher previous numbers and rates on all the measures used, one therefore might
have expected them to fall by a greater extent naturally, but one would not have expected by chance for
them to fall well below those of the comparison group.

6. Compliance with court orders, specific sentences,
and prison licences
A key objective of the project was to enable the offenders on IRIS to improve on their past histories of
largely poor compliance with court orders, specific sentence requirements, post-custody prison licence
conditions, and curfews (often electronically tagged).

It was possible to obtain data on compliance in respect of not only the first twenty IRIS offenders prior to
starting on IRIS status and afterwards, but also in respect of the fourteen comparison group cases before the
introduction of IRIS and afterwards. Table 6A shows the average number of breaches for four types of
orders; court bail, (including residence and other bail conditions), community sentences (including
community punishment and rehabilitation orders, and drug treatment and testing orders,) prison licences
(including YOI licences, ACR licences and DCR licences), and curfew orders (including court ordered
curfews, and early release curfews and electronic tags). Table 6A summarises the evidence of improved
compliance behaviour by the IRIS offenders.

Table 6A Compliance with orders and licences

24 months pre IRIS and 12 months post IRIS
Averages for IRIS group pre IRIS Comparison group averages pre IRIS

• Time at liberty 17/24 months • Time at liberty 19/24 months

• Breaches of bail 1.8 • Breaches of bail 2.5
• Breach of community sentence 1.8 • Breach of community sentence 2.5
• Breach of prison licence 0.45 • Breach of prison licence 0.14
• Breach of curfew 0.25 • Breach of curfew 0.07
Breaches per month at liberty 0.25 Breaches per month at liberty 0.26
Averages for IRIS group post IRIS Comparison group averages post IRIS

• At liberty 7/12 months • At liberty 8/12 months

• Breaches of bail 0.15 • Breaches of bail 1.6
• Breach of community sentence 0.5 • Breach of community sentence 1.2
• Breach of prison licence 0.25 • Breach of prison licence 0.14
• Breach of curfew 0.05 • Breach of curfew 0.07
Breaches per month at liberty 0.13 Breaches per month at liberty 0.37

In the IRIS group of offenders, the breaches of court ordered bail reduced from 1.8 per month in the pre
IRIS period, to 0.15 in the first year of operation of IRIS. In respect of community sentences they reduced
from 1.8 to 0.5 per month, and from 0.25 to 0.05 for curfews. In relation to prison licences the drop was
less significant, probably because the IRIS team specifically attempted to get offenders recalled to prison if
they were in breach of their licences. Across all the orders the rate of breaches in IRIS cases reduced from
0.25 per month at liberty to 0.13 per month at liberty, a reduction of 48%, which was statistically
In the comparison group there were also some reductions in the monthly rate of breaches for bail and
community sentences, but none for prison licences and curfews. However there was in fact an overall
increase in the comparison group rate per month at liberty from 0.26 to 0.37 per month, an increase of 42%.

The IRIS team deliberately attempted to improve levels of compliance and explicitly ensured that non-
compliance was responded to quickly, resulting in some offenders being rapidly breached and re-appearing
in court, or being recalled to prison. In many cases IRIS staff ensured the offenders were reminded of
forthcoming court appearances while on bail, and in some instances accompanied IRIS offenders to court.
The overall effect of this aspect of the work of the IRIS team was undoubtedly to improve the compliance
of all but a few of the IRIS offenders. Despite the increased intensity of the contact IRIS staff had with the
offenders and the greatly increased probability of being breached or recalled to prison, there is clear
evidence of significantly improved compliance rates, when previous recent histories of non-compliance
were considered, and when the evidence from the comparison group of offenders pre and post the IRIS
period was examined. These improvements in compliance had real benefits for some of the offenders in
that the majority were far less likely to be re-sentenced for breaches of court orders and recalled to prison.
But improvements in compliance with bail conditions also have benefits for the courts and court staff, the
Crown Prosecution Service, the local probation service, legal representatives, local police staff required to
give evidence, and those members of the public required to attend court to give evidence.

7. Intelligence Reports and Stop Checks

One of the intended objectives of IRIS was to increase the amount of police intelligence collected and made
available to other police officers, to ensure swifter and the more certain detection of any offences
committed by IRIS offenders. Another and related aim was increase the number of spot-checks undertaken
legitimately by police officers on IRIS offenders in Oxford, in order to deter further offending, provide
well documented evidence of their movements at critical times, and improve the chances of early arrests
and detections of any crimes they might commit whilst on IRIS. The IRIS team posted pictures and brief
information on IRIS offenders in the police station in prominent places to identify them clearly for
colleagues, and also set up systems for the immediate identification of IRIS offenders when arrested,
charged, considered for police bail and otherwise coming to the notice of other police staff. All the IRIS
staff during the first year of its operation contributed to police intelligence reports on an almost daily basis
on all the offenders on the project. They also recorded all the contacts they had with IRIS offenders and
their locations and any random contacts they with them in the street or other public locations (e.g. hospitals,
courts and benefits offices)

TABLE 7A Intelligence Reports

IRIS Group (20 Offenders) Comparison Group (14 Offenders)

• 337 reports of which 158 (47%) by IRIS staff 291 reports by all police personnel
• average of 16.9 per offender average of 20.8 per offender
• 1.6 per month on IRIS scheme 1.7 per month since scored on IRIS matrix
• excluding IRIS Intelligence reports, the average reduces to 0.9 per month at liberty

Data from the Thames Valley Police Criminal Intelligence System (CIS) was analysed in respect of the
twenty IRIS offenders for the first twelve months of the project and over the same time period on the
fourteen comparison group cases. Table 7A indicates the number of intelligence reports recorded on the
police system on each group over the same period of time. The data shows that 337 reports were logged of
which IRIS staff were responsible for 47%. In respect of the comparison cases 291 were reported by all
police personnel although 95 were logged on only one individual offender, bringing the average number of
reports well above the rate of 16.9 per IRIS offender to 20.8. per offender. If the IRIS staff reports are
excluded from the analysis then the rate of reports falls to 0.9 per offender per month at liberty, which is in

fact less than the rate for the comparison group of 1.7 reports per offender per month at liberty. This would
appear to indicate that although IRIS staff were very active in making reports on IRIS offenders, other
police colleagues did not appear to have increased their rate of intelligence report writing on IRIS
offenders, as shown by their reporting rates for the comparison group offenders.

In respect of stop-checks and other reported sightings of offenders the data shows (see Table 7B) that 211
reports of checks and sightings were logged on the twenty IRIS offenders, an average of 10.6 per offender
and at a rate of 1.4 per offender per month at liberty. The number of reports per offender and the rate per
month at liberty were all slightly lower for the comparison group at 7.4 per offender and 0.9 per month at
liberty. If however the reports of stop-checks and sightings undertaken by IRIS staff are excluded, the rate
per offender per month at liberty drops to exactly the same rate as for the comparison group at 0.9 per
month at liberty.

TABLE 7B Stop Checks and Sightings

IRIS Group (20 Offenders) Comparison Group (14 Offenders)

• 211 checks of which 82 (39%) by IRIS staff 104 checks by all police personnel
• average of 10.6 per offender average of 7.4 per offender
• 1.4 checks per month at liberty 0.9 per month at liberty
• excluding IRIS stop checks average reduces to 0.9 per month at liberty
When both intelligence reports and reports on spot-checks and sightings are examined in combination (see
Table 7C) then the overall similarity in the rate of reports logged in the twelve month period for both the
IRIS and comparison group is obvious. If the high level of reporting achieved by IRIS staff is excluded,
then the comparison group received almost twice as many reports on average (per month at liberty) as the
twenty IRIS offenders. In spite of all the efforts by the IRIS team to inform colleagues of the identities of
the IRIS offenders and to encourage them to stop-check, report sightings and record other intelligence on
them, there was no evidence from the number of recorded reports that the IRIS offenders had been subject
to greater surveillance from other local police personnel.

TABLE 7C Intelligence Reports and Stop Checks/Sightings

IRIS Goup- 542 (20 Offenders) Comparison Group –309 (14 Offenders)

• average 27.1 per offender average 22.1 per offender

• average 7.3 per month at liberty average 8.0 per month at liberty
• average 2.6 per month liable to reports average 1.9 per month liable to reports
• excluding all IRIS reports average reduces to 4.2 per month at liberty
A detailed examination of intelligence reports, stop-checks and sightings was made for each individual
offender in both the IRIS and comparison groups of offenders. This showed clearly the wide variation in
the number of reports recorded on different offenders. For example the most reports on any IRIS offender
was one case with 54 reports, but in the comparison group one case had 95 reports, 28 more than the next
highest one in that group. Overall the number of reports produced on IRIS offenders was almost 25%
greater, due predominantly to the contribution of the members of the IRIS team.

This was in retrospect the most disappointing result from the first year of the operation of IRIS. The hope
that colleagues could be encouraged to make more frequent reports on matters concerning IRIS offenders
did not appear to have been realised to any significant extent. However the extra amount of intelligence
gathered by the IRIS staff on a consistently regular basis, and their high level of stop-check and sightings
reports did provide valuable information to colleagues, especially those working on specific offence types
(burglary, auto-crime and robbery teams). The IRIS team was also able to develop good levels of

intelligence-sharing with prison establishments, concerning known associates in prison, cell sharing and
predicted release dates in advance of actual releases from prison. The value of the intelligence obtained and
logged by IRIS staff was specifically referred to and evidenced in the interviews undertaken by the author
with members of these specialist teams. This was also frequently directly observed by the author in the
IRIS office, when other police officers telephoned or called in to get up to date information on IRIS
offenders or to check out possible alibis or the probable validity of accounts given by IRIS or other
offenders of their activities. In one case the detective was able immediately to exclude an IRIS offender
from his investigations as a result of contacts IRIS staff had had with the offender the day before. In
another radio contact from a police vehicle, the identity of a suspect was quickly confirmed, because the
arrested suspect was claiming to be his brother (an actual IRIS offender) who the IRIS staff could
immediately confirm was in another police force area on a training course, at the precise time the suspect
was being stopped by the officers in the mobile patrol.

8. IRIS contacts with the offenders, and their

presenting problems
From the IRIS database and the contact records IRIS kept, it was possible to determine the number and type
of contacts IRIS staff had with the first twenty offenders on the scheme. Table 8A summarises the main
findings from this examination of the 919 contacts the IRIS staff had during the first year of operation. A
significant number were made by telephone although this varied greatly from offender to offender. The
frequency of contacts also varied between offenders, with one only having an average of on 0.6 contacts
per week at liberty, while other offenders had an average of as many as 4.4 contacts per week. The IRIS
team also managed to achieve a high level of face to face contact with the IRIS offenders during periods of
remands in custody and prison sentences. While in prison IRIS offenders were visited 34 times, an average
of one visit per 6.5 weeks in custody. Only one offender was not visited while in prison during the first year
of operation.

Regular contact was also kept with IRIS offenders whilst in residential drug treatment centres in different
parts of the country. Four of the five offenders were visited in the drug treatment and rehabilitation centres
at least once during their residential periods, and all were contacted by telephone on a weekly basis. The
largest number of meetings with offenders took place at the police station but they only accounted for 23%
of all face to face meetings. Frequent home visits were made to the majority of the offenders, but many also
took place in other locations, including probation offices, health and hospital locations, whilst in police
custody, at court and in prisons.

Table 8A - Problems or Issues identified during IRIS contacts,
referrals and interventions with IRIS offenders


1 Relationships with children and/or adults-access and custody issues 90% 18

2 Drug abuse/ addictions- prescribed usage 90% 18

3 Benefits problems and/or financial matters (not including fines, court 85% 17

4 Relationships with wives, partners and/or girlfriends and boyfriends 75% 15

5 Accommodation-residence issues 70% 14

6 Health issues-physical, mental, injuries, hospital treatment 55% 11

7 Employment- work finding 45% 9

8 Education, courses, training, basic skills needs 30% 6

9 Criminal friends, associates, drug dealers, criminal “debts” 25% 5

10 Personal property-including pets 20% 4

11 Victims of criminal offences, assaults 10% 2

12 Driving licences, tests, insurance 10% 2

13 Past times, sporting activities, fitness 10% 2

When the content of the contacts with the offenders were examined, it was possible to rank the range of
issues which were the focus of the meetings IRIS staff had with the twenty offenders. Table 8B shows the
range of principal issues addressed during contacts with the IRIS offenders. On average offenders featured
6.25 different types of problems or issues, ranging from 4 issues in 2 cases to 8 issues in 3 cases; 8 cases
featured a total of 7 issues.

As can be seen the majority of issues concerned personal social problems and immediate circumstances.
Not surprisingly drug abuse issues were the focus for 90% of the offenders, but equally as common were
issues concerning children, parenting and concerns about access and custody of children. Problems of
debts, benefits and other financial matters were the next most common. Interpersonal relationships with
partners and boy or girlfriends featured in three quarters of the cases. As expected a significant number of
the offenders had accommodation difficulties and needs, often arising from the high cost of accommodation
in Oxford and the scarcity of suitable types of housing in the city. Health problems not related to drug
abuse were raised and were present in just over half the cases. Perhaps surprisingly, only 45% of cases had
discussed problems of employment and training, even though nineteen out of the twenty were unemployed
when they commenced IRIS. Issues concerning current or past criminal associates and criminal “debts”
were discussed in a quarter of the cases, and in two of the cases, the offenders had problems arising from
their recent experiences as the victims of other people’s criminal actions. A number of other issues arose in
other individual cases. Out of the fourteen categories of problems or issues that were identified, the
majority of offenders had identified at least seven different ones during their contacts with IRIS staff. This
clearly demonstrates the range and number of different of social, personal and circumstances issues that
IRIS staff encountered in their supervision and support of these IRIS offenders.

It was not possible to count and classify all the wide range of other organisations and bodies with which the
IRIS team was in contact on behalf of the offenders during the first year of its operation. However it could
be seen from the case records that a considerable amount of time and effort by all the team members was

spent not on direct work with the individual offenders, but with other people (often including their partners
and other relatives) trying to sort out difficulties or enabling the offenders to get access to resources and
opportunities. The amount of this work naturally varied between individual offenders, but in most cases it
involved numerous telephone calls, letters and personal visits. What was clear during the first year of the
operation of IRIS was that the offenders had a wide variety and number of problems, some of which were
directly related to or a consequence of their offending, but many of which arose for other reasons. The IRIS
staff quickly developed a wide range of contacts and networks to cover the range of issues encountered and
frequently found themselves simultaneously addressing different issues with the same offenders. The
complexity of dealing with multi-problematic individuals is draining and at times frustrating, and made
significant demands not only on IRIS staff time but also on their resilience and skills. From examining
individual cases it was possible to observe real improvements in both the circumstances and personal well-
being of many of the IRIS cases. It was not possible to easily or reliably quantify these, or provide an
estimate of the economic and wider social benefits of this aspect of the work of IRIS.

What was apparent in the study of the individual IRIS cases was that for them to make real progress in
reducing their propensity to re-offend and improve their personal circumstances required a high level of
engagement with the IRIS staff. It appeared that two particular elements of engagement with the IRIS team
were required. The first was that of compliance with the conditions and requirements of their statutory
orders or licences, and specifically compliance with their IRIS conditions. Unless the individual offenders
were willing to show some reasonable compliance then other aspects of engagement were very unlikely to
occur. The second element was that of demonstrating willingness and motivation to change some aspect of
their current lives. Those who showed such a desire to progress, even if they were not always able to
succeed immediately, appeared to have by far the greatest chances of achieving both improvement in their
personal lives and of reducing the probability of frequent and serious re-offending. The author asked the
IRIS team to collectively rate each of the IRIS offenders on a simple matrix (see Table8B) made up of the
dimensions of compliance and progress in personal circumstances (not including re-offending).

TABLE 8B Ratings of compliance and progress made by the first

twenty IRIS offenders

Compliance Extensive Some Little Total

Full 6 2 0 8 40%

Varied 1 4 2 7 35%

Poor 0 0 5 5 25%

Total 7 35% 6 30% 7 35% 20 100%

It shows that there were variable numbers of the twenty offenders who were rated as complying fully,
variably or poorly. There were also variable numbers who were rated as having begun to make progress in
their personal lives, being rated as making extensive, some or little or no progress. The distribution of the
twenty offenders on these two dimensions shows that six were rated as having extensive progress and to
have been fully compliant. In contrast, five offenders were rated as being poorly compliant and having
made little or no progress in their personal lives. In between, seven of the twenty had been rated as being
fully or variably compliant, and having made extensive or some real progress in their personal lives. Only
two were rated as making little or no progress in their personal lives who had been variable in their
compliance. When later the re-offending data on each offender was examined there was a direct association
between their location on the matrix and the frequency and seriousness of their known re-offending
behaviour. Those offenders who were rated as having made little or no progress and had been rated as
being poorly compliant, accounted for the majority of the known further offences and all of the more

serious ones. Those rated as fully compliant and rated as having made extensive progress, had relative few
known re-offences and none of the more serious ones.

9. Four IRIS Case Studies

These four case studies were selected by the author to illustrate the characteristics of the IRIS offenders and
also the nature and extent of IRIS involvement with different cases. The brief information in these case
studies is derived from police records, interviews with IRIS staff and interviews by the author by telephone
with seven of them. John was not available for interview as he was at the time serving a prison sentence.
The time-line bar charts were designed by Sgtt Emma Garside and Mr Daniel Bowden, the Divisional
Senior Performance Manager, based on a model originally conceived of and developed by D.Sgt John
White ( Northumbria Police) for the SOLVE prolific offender project in North Tyneside. The time line bar
charts are produced on all IRIS offenders and are reproduced here to show the different patterns of each of
these individual case study offenders. The names of the individual offenders have been changed to ensure

Roger was twenty years old and had first been convicted when he was fifteen. He had had 16 previous court
sentencing occasions and had served two separate previous custodial sentences. He had an IRIS score of
195 when he came on to the scheme.

The time-line bar chart (figure 9A) indicates the previous pattern of Roger’s recent history of criminal
convictions and sentences. He was not subject to any licences or community sentences during his IRIS
period and remained a voluntary participant on the programme throughout. Contact was usually instigated
by the IRIS team but Roger was always willing to engage with all the IRIS staff when contacted. He
appeared to use these contacts largely to discuss problems and at times of stress. He had no known class A
drug abuse problems but had frequent financial difficulties, and was subject to considerable peer group
pressure to continue offending. He came from a family that was still criminally active, but had lost contact
with his natural father. During his time with IRIS he was able to re-establish links with him. Via his natural
father he was able to find work in the building trade. Having gained new skills in this field he is now
employed full time as a team leader on a building site. He met a new girlfriend who had no criminal
connections and had a very positive effect on him. IRIS did not have to provide any specific help to Roger,
but until his new girlfriend came along he depended very heavily on IRIS staff for advice and support in
keeping away from criminal associates and criminal activity. He is interested in completing a computer
training course and gaining further qualifications in this field. He completed his IRIS year successfully and
was awarded a certificate for this achievement of being conviction free for 12 months. Roger received a
conditional discharge for a common assault offence committed whilst subject to his IRIS intervention, but
has shown no evidence of a return to his previous auto crime offending.

He has moved away from Oxford with his partner and a newly born daughter. There were no police records
of any problems.

Offending History

Number of Offences






















12 Month Supervision Order (YOT) Prison Priso At Liberty

IRIS Start Date = 18/11/03

Peter was twenty four years old and had his first conviction at the age of seventeen. He had had 30 previous
court sentencing occasions and 8 previous separate custodial sentences. He had an IRIS score of 62 before
he commenced IRIS. The time-line bar chart (figure 9B) indicates the previous pattern of Peter’s criminal
convictions and sentences.

Peter was a father of two girls and had a turbulent relationship with their mother. He also had a long
standing drug addiction problem for which he was prescribed methadone, but continued to use many other
illicit substances. He started IRIS on a voluntary basis and after approximately six months he was found a
place at a residential drug rehabilitation centre where he made successful progress for the first three
months. IRIS maintained close contact with him while he was in residence but encountered some
difficulties in getting regular responses from the residential staff. Peter developed a relationship with
another female resident which was against the centre rules and was evicted before completing his treatment.
He returned to Oxford and started using drugs immediately. He had no permanent accommodation so
relied on ‘sofa surfing’ between different locations. In February 2005 he was charged and convicted for
taking a vehicle without consent (TWOC) and drug possession, to which he made a full admission, and
which the court gave him a deferred sentence with a condition that he remained in contact with IRIS. Soon
afterwards however he was arrested and charged with 2 further shoplifting offences and remanded in
custody. The IRIS probation officer prepared the pre-sentence report (PSR) for the Magistrates Court, and
he received a 12 month DTTO with a requirement to comply with IRIS. Peter is now in a male only
residential drug rehabilitation centre and is making good progress and providing negative drug tests. IRIS
staff have helped him maintain more normal contact with his children and former partner. He is still being
actively supported by IRIS staff who maintain regular phone and personal contact.

Offending History

Number of Offences























18 Mth Prison Liberty Prison Prison Liberty

CRO Licence


Prison 18 Mth IRIS Start Date = 17/09/03

CRO 12 Month DTTO

Leslie was thirty six years old and had his first conviction at the age of seventeen. He had had 34 previous
court sentencing occasions and 5 previous separate custodial sentences. He had an IRIS score of 67 before
he commenced on IRIS. The time-line bar chart (figure 9C) indicates the pattern of Leslie’s previous
criminal convictions and sentences.

Leslie had just been released from prison when his IRIS period started and was subject to a HDC with
electronic monitoring. He was arrested for two offences of shoplifting, and initially given a brief Deferred
Sentence. He was subsequently given a community rehabilitation order (CRO) with a requirement that he
comply with IRIS conditions. He had a PSR prepared by the IRIS probation officer, which proposed the
CRO and IRIS conditions. Leslie was married, had three children and lived in a council house, but he and
his wife had serious drug abuse problems. After detailed discussions with IRIS staff he volunteered to go to
for residential treatment outside Oxfordshire. IRIS staff negotiated a place for him and he successfully
completed the 6 month treatment programme remaining drug and alcohol free throughout. IRIS staff kept
close contact with Leslie throughout his residence and had excellent communication with the treatment
centre staff. On returning from the residential treatment centre Leslie went back to his family where his
wife had also managed to become drug free. Since then he has become a volunteer trainer for Energy and
Vision spending three days a week offering guidance to youths on drug misuse, is completing a Plater
College course, accessing services from numerous support groups in the area and being the father to his
children he had always wanted to be. Ten months on he is still abstinent from drugs and alcohol. There are
no police records of any offending since the two shopliftings at the very start of his IRIS period.

Offending History

Number of Offences




















At Prison Conditional Discharge 36 Month CRO Libe Def 12 Month CRO + IRIS
Liberty rty Sentence

Elec Rehab
Prison At Liberty
At Liberty Prison

IRIS Start Date = 23/03/04

Sophie was thirty one years old and had her first conviction at the age of sixteen years. She had had 22
previous sentencing occasions and 8 previous separate custodial sentences. She had an IRIS score of 51
before she commenced IRIS. The time-line bar chart (figure 9D) indicates the previous pattern of Sophie’s
criminal convictions and sentences.

Sophie has a longstanding history of offending going back to her teenage years. Her mother was also well
known as a prolific offender, in the past. She has previous convictions for many serious offences, including
distraction dwelling house burglaries committed with other persistent offenders. Her most recent male
partner has numerous convictions for burglary also. She can be co-operative and at times seems well
motivated to break free from her drug addiction and her offending history. But she is easily distracted and
finds offending a simple and straightforward solution to any financial problems. She responded well when
she was subject to Home Detention Curfew (HDC) via an electronic tag on early release from prison. She
welcomed help from the IRIS team in relation to different problems, such as support for her daughter who
was pregnant and disputes with her own mother. She continued to offend and in June 2004 was given a two
year DTTO with an IRIS condition, but she was almost immediately arrested and charged with new
offences and given another prison sentence. After another prison licence period she continued to offend.

She has recently received a three and a half year prison sentence in the Crown Court for further offences of
burglary and deception. Her IRIS status has therefore been suspended until she is close to being released
again from prison. In my interview with Sophie she commented that “I am very difficult to help as it is all
down to me…. but IRIS really helped me more than anybody else ever has”.

Offending History




Number of Offences






















Probation Order Prison Prison Licence Prison Prison

At Liberty
IRIS Start Date = 17/12/03

10. Offender Perspectives on IRIS
The author was able to interview twelve of the first twenty IRIS offenders, between ten and eleven months
after the commencement of IRIS. Prior consent had been obtained from the offenders and all the interviews
were conducted on a fully confidential basis by telephone, either at their homes or accommodation, on
mobile phones, while in a day rehabilitation centre, or at their parents’ home. I informed them that I was
not tape recording the interviews but they were a key part of my independent evaluation of IRIS. I have
identified a number of themes which came from the interview rather than verbatim reports on each

Initial suspicion
Every single person indicated a high level of suspicion when they were first approached by IRIS. One
stated that initially he thought it was another “clean-up scheme” and most believed initially that the main
purpose was to get them to “grass up” friends and request more TICs. They uniformly found the idea of
voluntary involvement difficult to understand but two said immediately that when it was properly explained
to them they would cooperate if it really was voluntary. No offender believed that IRIS would or could
provide real help to them. Two of those interviewed remained suspicious of the “real” intent of IRIS but
both stated they had had some help from IRIS staff.

Early stages of engagement

Many of the offenders described a period of time after early suspicions had been reduced, of two-way
testing out of the links with IRIS. They all referred to different levels of trust being gradually developed
with named IRIS staff members. Getting personal property returned from the police was mentioned by two
as evidence of getting real help and evidence of real concern for them from IRIS staff.

Surprise that the police were part of the helping process

All except one of those interviewed expressed surprise that the police were so fully involved in the
‘helping’ parts of IRIS. All except one welcomed the help of the probation officer and Debbie Brind, but
said they had expected them to be like that. However, the police officers were frequently identified for
comment about how helpful they were, giving up time for lengthy discussions and “giving me lifts in her
own car” (it was in fact the team car). The capacity of the police officers to provide positive support and
help, but to continue to be focused on detecting crimes and making arrests were necessary, clearly had
confused some of the offenders, at least to begin with. This tension was cited by one person as to why his
chats with them always made him think about his crimes, even if they were actually “discussing my dog”.
The mix of the team was commented on and all except one of those interviewed mentioned that the
different members of the team were able to help with different problems, including getting “old crimes off
your back”.

Getting to grips with drug problems

All except one of the persons interviewed was a former or existing drug user. Many described previous
attempts they had made to get help and treatment. Nine offenders gave examples of specific help IRIS had
provided from going to see the GP with them about scripts, taking them to drug projects by car, getting
them places on residential drug treatment programmes, etc. They were most impressed by the speed with
which IRIS staff acted. One described discussing a residential centre one week and actually being taken for
a visit the next. Inevitably several reported relapses in drug usage but all of them stated that IRIS staff still
“stood by them” and continued to provide support.

Wider range of help provided by IRIS staff
Drug abuse was the most commonly mentioned problem, but in interview many other examples of
problems were cited. Specific examples were given of real assistance from IRIS staff in relation to getting
employment and “good quality” training, education classes at local colleges, accommodation help from a
hostel to sheltered housing and independent living in a flat, help over issues of custody and contact with
children and ex-partners, improving relationships with parents and partners, hospital treatment and many
other issues, including help with bank accounts, driving lessons and clothes for work. They uniformly
considered the help provided was of “good quality not rubbish”.

Comparisons with previous supervision

Other than the suspicion about the role of the police, most offenders considered the supervision by IRIS
was “fair, tough but always regular”. Several contrasted the infrequency of probation contact in the past
with their experiences of IRIS, and also felt they were far more likely to be breached on IRIS if they did not
comply. “The thing about IRIS is they do what they say they will do – do some crime and they will be on
to you like a flash, but the next day in court they say a good word to help you get back”. The balance
between the carrot and stick was frequently referred to, in that IRIS could be “very helpful but you know
your picture is everywhere”.

Influence on criminal behaviour

Five of the persons interviewed felt that IRIS had made them think twice about future offending. One
perceived IRIS as coming at exactly the right time to give him an impetus to give up crime. Others felt that
with IRIS you could get the “slate wiped clean” and gave you a good start but “it’s still all your own
decision”. Three persons did not feel IRIS had affected their offending but it had made it “more difficult to
get away with anything” – one stated “I’d only done a few jobs and they were on to me straight away”.
Another commented that IRIS was a clever project with “Women police officers only to be on your tail”.
All agreed that IRIS had made them think about their behaviour but for some they were not yet ready to
stop offending.

Final comments from IRIS Offenders

I asked all the interviewees that if they were talking to a new offender on IRIS what would they say to him
or her. All except one were very enthusiastic and there were a range of similar responses including; “give
it a go”, “listen to what they say and get involved”, “get involved but don’t try to pull the wool over their
eyes”, “ it will give you confidence to get out of the hole”, “if it can work for me, anybody can do it”, “go
for it, they do help”, and “it couldn’t help me but it may help you”.

This range of comments and advice to others provides a reasonably representative account of the positive
attitudes the majority of the offenders had about IRIS. But all the offenders retained a clear understanding
that is was also about their criminal behaviour. Most welcomed it, even if most clearly realised it had
probably made future offending more difficult, and would certainly result in a far greater chance of them
being arrested and convicted of any further offences committed by them.

Some were still resistant to giving up their criminal life-styles, and had not allowed IRIS staff yet to engage
with assisting them in ways which could allow them to develop possible positive future pathways. But
even these offenders acknowledged that being designated as an IRIS offender would mean that continued
offending, even of a minor kind would render themselves very likely to be apprehended, and again facing
yet more time behind bars. Even though they clearly understood the nature of their IRIS status some were
still surprised that IRIS staff were so dedicated to challenging their continued offending behaviour, and one
described the shock of actually being arrested by one of the IRIS police officers, stating “they said they’d
arrest me and they actually did”.

11. Interviews with other Police Officers in Oxford
about IRIS
In addition to interviews with the IRIS team members it was considered appropriate to interview a range of
other police officers from the Oxford Police Force Area. The aim was to interview officers of different
ranks and whose work was potentially linked with or affected by the work of the IRIS team. These
interviews were undertaken between nine and ten months after the start of the IRIS project.

Divisional Commander – Chief Superintendent

The Chief Superintendent and senior officer responsible for the decision to implement IRIS was
interviewed. He located IRIS within the range of different approaches to crime reduction which had been
pioneered in Oxford. He considered IRIS a pioneering development in inter-agency co-operation and
intelligence led practices. He emphasised the amount of local police resources which had gone into IRIS.
He was pleased with the progress and positive impression IRIS staff had created in the Police station.

He was fully behind the ‘carrot and stick’ approach integral to the project methodology and considered that
it was critically important to improve control over prolific offenders of the kind identified by IRIS, as well
as offering them real opportunities to desist from offending. The police officers in IRIS had been selected
for their experience and competence. He was keen to have staff from other agencies fully involved in the
team, and hoped that in the not too distant future such agencies as probation would be able to fund posts in
IRIS directly themselves. He was pleased to have the IRIS team located in the police station and to see a
high level co-operation between IRIS and other specialist teams (e.g. burglary team, auto-crime team,
prison information unit). He was keen to see evidence of the value of the work of the IRIS team and
emphasised how important evidence would be for its expansion throughout Oxfordshire. He hoped that the
way IRIS worked could be extended to work with prolific juvenile offenders in Oxford.

Detective Chief Inspector for Oxford

The Detective Chief Inspector who had a wide range of responsibility for crime detection throughout the
Local Police Area was interviewed. He was keen to see the National Intelligence Model (NIM) being used
regularly and consistently in all the work of specialist teams, CID and also in the IRIS project. He was
pleased to see the careful planning that had gone into IRIS and how in its practice it was fully embracing an
emphasis on high quality intelligence, properly communicated to all the sections for which he was
responsible. He had already received reports from other managers and officers about the high standard of
intelligence being provided by IRIS staff and he commented specifically on the role the IRIS sergeant
played on the bi-weekly tasking and co-ordinating meetings, where IRIS offenders were frequently

He considered the ability of the IRIS staff to achieve good levels of engagement with the prolific offenders
identified was encouraging, and their ability to get the offenders to co-operate in interviews and in the
provision of information was welcomed by him and other detectives. He was impressed by the intelligence
reports prepared by IRIS staff, by their updating of routine information, and by the positive situation
responses they had achieved with so many of the IRIS offenders. He felt that IRIS had made an excellent
start and had already proved itself to be of real value to colleagues working with such offenders and
offences. He hoped the style of work would be quickly extended to prolific juvenile offenders and that their
offending could be approached in similar ways. He also was interested to see evidence of IRIS success and
in particular what contribution it was making to levels of crime and detection rates in Oxford

Burglary Team – Acting Detective Inspector

A middle manager from the Burglary Team was interviewed because of his involvement in the initial
development of the concept of IRIS. He had ten years’ service in Oxford and had previously been seconded

into the Drug Treatment and Testing Team (DTTO) managed by the local probation area. This officer
already had close knowledge and experience of this style of professional police work. He had attended
prolific offender events in other parts of the country, and had visited the Northumbria Police project.

He felt that there was a need for multi-agency teams to address head on the lifestyles of prolific offenders,
their persistent offending and the need to encourage future positive career decisions. The local DTTO had
been a catalyst to produce a team that had a stronger law enforcement role, but could really help offenders
to change, particularly in relation to their extensive drug usage. He considered the ideas for IRIS were
based on attempting to achieve a concentrated focus on the most prolific local offenders and the
management of the cases from different viewpoints; offending, drug abuse, unemployment, families and
children etc. The key was to ensure the offender’s experience was intensive and control-oriented (including
compliance with court orders and prison licences).

He felt IRIS had made an excellent start with the matrix scores identifying known prolific offenders. He
considered the police station location was preferable to other possible locations, and was pleased that the
police had resourced it so well.

From the perspective of the Burglary Team he considered IRIS was helping to fill in some important pieces
of the jigsaw by providing excellent intelligence on the prolific offenders. He felt IRIS had already
achieved high credibility with the burglary team officers and the liaison between both teams was regular
and mutually helpful to both.

Robbery Team – Detective Constable

The Detective Constable who was interviewed had over 27 years’ police service and had previous
experience in various CID roles. He explained that the robbery team was particularly focussed on street
robberies and ‘snatch offences’, but was ‘intelligence–led’ and found itself concentrating on younger
offenders in their teens, who often attacked vulnerable targets in Oxford including the elderly, foreign
students and other young people. Therefore the majority of older IRIS offenders found IRIS offenders were
not a key target group for the team. They had obtained some useful intelligence for IRIS team members and
a limited amount on IRIS offenders in particular. He welcomed the proposals for more closely co-ordinated
work with the Youth Offending Team (YOT) and young offenders on the Intensive Supervision and
Surveillance Programme (ISSP). He considered IRIS had made a solid start and his informal contacts
indicated it was well accepted by other colleagues. He really hoped it would work and thought something
similar was needed for younger offenders.

Auto-Crime Team – Constable

The officer interviewed had nearly five years service and had been in the auto-crime team for 18 months.
This team dealt with all aspects of auto-crime, in particular TWOC, (including aggravated TWOC) theft
from vehicles, vehicle interference and persistent disqualified drivers. He already considered IRIS was
having a real impact and was proving of very useful direct assistance to the auto-crime team. He was able
to discuss three IRIS offenders in detail and gave specific examples of how the IRIS team had been a real
help. In one case the offender was very unco-operative but within two weeks of IRIS starting to work with
him, he had begun to co-operate and had admitted 50 to 60 auto-crime offences.

Another had continued to offend but IRIS intelligence had led to an early arrest, and they had clearly
identified that he was “going off the rails” and therefore fewer crimes had resulted. A third had a prolific
record of thefts from cars, and IRIS information had been quick to identify when this offender started his
crime sprees. IRIS had identified the signs of his offending from contacts with the offender’s girlfriend.

He felt IRIS was already proving “value for money”. His colleagues had been suspicious to begin with of
another “do-gooding programme” but IRIS was not like that. The flow of intelligence from IRIS was
extremely high quality. He now considered there was a better working relationship with other agencies (e.g.
probation) in IRIS than ever before. He and his colleagues now were convinced IRIS was proving to be
well balanced and very professional in its approach to crime and offender support.

Area Beat Sergeant
This officer had 15 years’ service and was responsible for four police constables in a community beat team
in one of the housing estates in Oxford with the highest crime rates He was sceptical of the IRIS project and
had only limited direct experience of it when interviewed. He was aware of the IRIS offender pictures and
profiles in the police station and believed he and his officers were well aware of their identities. Only a few
of them lived in the estate where he worked. He was then not aware of any direct intelligence reports from
IRIS on the offenders he knew, and he did not know if any of them had been “stop checked” by his officers,
officers of any of the IRIS offenders. He was uncertain of the value of IRIS when first interviewed.

However it was clear from evidence available six months after this interview that this sergeant was in
regular contact with the IRIS team and that members of his community beat team had been regularly
checking the latest information on IRIS offenders resident in their area. This sergeant had also worked
closely with the IRIS team leader in operational briefings for the enforcement of drug warrants in his
community beat area.

Conclusions from police interviews

Both senior officers had a good understanding of the nature and objectives of the intervention model that
IRIS had adopted and were already impressed by what the project had been able to achieve in its first year
of operation. Both were keen to see it developed further and extended in the Thames Valley police area.

The officers from the three specialist teams had quite varied prior policing experience, including one who
had been involved in the original planning for IRIS. The two officers who had no previous experience or
knowledge of such projects reported early suspicion of both its methods and its likely results. However
relatively quickly they both had experienced some real benefits from the work of IRIS staff, and had begun
to recognise how helpful such work could be in their own specialist work.

The project had clearly found it more difficult to impress itself quickly on police staff working area beat
teams, but their had been a gradual recognition of the good work that had been achieved with some very
well-known local persistent offenders, and that close co-operation between IRIS staff and local beat
officers could contribute considerably to crime reduction and early arrests in their areas of responsibility.

12. The Contribution of IRIS to the Levels of Recorded
and Detected Crimes in the Oxford Local Police Area
The data for this section of the report were prepared and provided by Mr Daniel Bowden the Divisional
Senior Performance Manager and his colleague Mr David Simmonds the performance researcher for the
Oxford Local Police Area (LPA). However the interpretation of the data and the comparative analysis
undertaken is solely the work and responsibility of the author.

Only offences which were known to have been committed in the Oxford LPA by the IRIS and comparison
group offenders were included in the analysis. In the case of the twenty IRIS offenders, 22 offences
occurred outside the Oxford LPA in the 24 months prior to IRIS, representing 4% of all the offences they
were known to have committed, and in the 14 month post IRIS only 5 offences (6%) were committed by
IRIS offenders outside the Oxford LPA. In respect of the comparison group 7 (5%) offences were known
to have been committed outside the Oxford LPA pre IRIS and 4 (8%) in the post IRIS period of 14 months.

Recorded Crime
Data was available on eight principal types of offences which the sample of IRIS offenders were most
likely to commit: burglary of dwellings, non-dwelling burglary, aggravated burglary, robbery of personal
property, aggravated taking without consent of a vehicle, TWOC, theft from a vehicle and shoplifting. The
data covered the time period between July 2001 and October 2004, which includes 24 months before and
14 months after IRIS started. Prior to this period, specialist units had been established in the Oxford LPA
to tackle some of these types of offences, notably the Burglary Team in 1999, the Auto-Crime Team in
1991, and the Robbery Team in 2001. During the time that IRIS has been in operation a Prison Intervention
Team was established with two experienced full time police officers, in April 2004. All these units play an
important role in the prevention and detection of these particular types of crime. It has not been possible in
this analysis to estimate their contribution to the overall reductions in recorded crime and the improvements
in detection rates recorded over this time period.

However it is important in the evaluation of IRIS to note that the trend in the reported rates was already
downwards, and the detection rate was increasing before IRIS came into operation and throughout this
period of time. There are occasional increases and peaks in some months but there has been an average
reduction of 9.8% in the number of offences recorded each month of all these eight types of offences
combined, when the period from August 2001 to August 2003 is compared with the period from September
2003 to November 2004. The combined figures mask considerable variations between the types of
offences; theft from vehicles dropped by 17.5%, robbery by 14.5%, burglary by 11% and shopliftings by
5.3%, but TWOCs increased by 6.8% over the same time period.

Table12A provides a comparison between changes in the amount of recorded crime per month and the
proportionate amount of the recorded crimes which were known to have been committed by both the IRIS
offenders and the comparison group, over the same time period. As would be expected from such relatively
small groups of offenders, they only account for a small proportion of the recorded crimes in the eight
different categories. But even though the proportions are small it is possible to detect that while the overall
amount of recorded crimes were in the main falling, the proportion of this crime committed by the 20 IRIS
offenders was falling quite dramatically and to a far greater extent than the proportion committed by the 14
comparison group offenders.

Table 12A Analysis of Recorded Crimes in Oxford PLA

Aug 2001 – July 2003 (24 months) Sept 2003 – Nov 2004 (14 months)


Type of No. Com No. Com Com
per S S p per S S
Crime Rec p% Rec p No p%
Mth No. % No. Mth No. %

Burglary 109. 132

2631 80 3.0 23 0.9 94.8 12 0.9 7 0.5
Dwelling 6 7

ed 20 0.8 8 40 0 0 7 0.5 0 0 0 0

Burglary 114
2133 88.9 6 0.3 9 0.4 82 1 0.1 5 0.4
Other 8

All 199. 248 117.

4784 94 1.9 32 0.7 13 0.5 12 0.5
Burglary 3 2 3

615 25.6 8 1.3 3 0.5 306 21.8 0 0 0 0

TWOC 1621 67.5 112 6.9 7 0.4 72.4 9 0.9 7 0.7

26 1.1 2 7.7 0 0 13 0.9 0 0 0 0

All TWOC 1647 68.6 114 7.0 7 0.4 102 73.4 9 0.9 7 0.7

179. 206 147.
from 4299 222 5.2 2 0.1 38 1.8 3 0.1
1 6 6

Shopliftin 145. 192 137.

3487 92 2.6 91 2.6 16 0.8 28 1.4
g 3 7 6

1483 780 557.

TOTAL 618 552 3.7 135 0.9 74 0.9 50 0.6
2 8 7

Detected crimes
There has also been a gradual reduction in the number of detected crimes largely in line with the
reductions in recorded crime. Table 12B shows the reductions in detected crimes per month in the same
eight offence types for the 24 month period before IRIS commenced operations and the subsequent 14
month period. This time the comparison is between all detected crimes of these types and the proportionate
contribution to the detections of the 20 IRIS offenders and the 14 comparison group offenders. Again the
IRIS group of 20 offenders show a large proportionate reduction, significantly greater than the overall
reduction and considerably greater than that achieved by the 14 comparison group offenders. The detection
rate for all types of offences combined has reduced from 37.3% per month for the pre IRIS period of 24
months, to 32.8% for the latter post IRIS period of 24 months. This is only a crude approach to the
calculation of the detection rate, as it does not indicate the actual proportion of recorded crimes of these
eight types which are detected over time.

Table 12B - Reductions in Detected Crimes per Month in the Pre and
Post Iris Time Periods, for Different Criminal Offence Types in the
Oxford Local Police Area.
All Crimes in Oxford per Crimes other than Iris
All IRIS Crimes per Month
Month Crimes per Month
Types of Criminal
Offences PRE POST Df % PRE POST Df % PRE POST Df %

All Burglary 47.5 42.5 5.0 10.5 43.5 41.6 1.9 4.4 3.3 0.9 2.4 72.7

Robbery 9.2 7.6 1.6 17.4 8.9 7.6 1.3 14.6 0.3 0 0.3 100.0

All TWOC 24.7 16.2 8.5 34.4 20.0 15.6 4.4 22.0 4.8 0.6 4.2 87.5

Theft from
41.9 23.4 18.5 44.2 32.7 20.8 11.9 36.4 9.3 2.7 6.6 71.0

Shoplifting 107.3 93.1 14.2 13.2 99.7 91.9 7.8 7.8 3.8 1.1 2.7 71.1

All Burglary,
81.4 66.3 15.1 18.6 73.1 64.9 8.2 11.2 8.3 1.4 6.9 83.1
Robbery & TWOC

All Burglary,
123.3 89.8 33.4 27.1 105.4 85.9 19.8 18.8 17.9 4.1 13.8 77.1
& Theft from

All Types of crimes 230.6 182.9 47.7 20.7 208.4 177.6 31.3 15.0 21.8 5.3 16.5 75.7

Table 12C shows the comparative reductions for the five principal types of crimes: burglary, robbery,
TWOC, theft from vehicles, and shoplifting. For the most serious cluster of these types of offences
(burglary, robbery, and TWOC), the calculations produce an overall reduction of 18.6% pre and post the
operations of IRIS, of which the 20 IRIS cases contributed 7.4%. This is arrived at by deducting the %
reduction for all crimes not including IRIS cases (11.2%) from the overall reduction of 18.6%. By this
form of calculation the reduction in crimes by the 20 IRIS offenders was 83% for the cluster of the most
serious offences and 76% for all eight types of offences.

Table 12C Analysis of Detected Crimes in Oxford LPA
Aug 2001- July 2003 (24 months) Sept 2003- Nov 2004(14 months)

Type of No. Det IRIS COMP No. Det IRIS COMP

Crime Det Per No. % No. % Det Per No. % No. %
Mnth Mnth
Burglary Dwelling 728 30.3 80 11.0 23 3.2 354 25.3 12 3.4 7 2.0
Aggravated Burglary 10 0.4 8 80.0 0 0 5 0.4 0 0 0 0
Burglary other 401 16.7 6 1.5 9 2.2 236 16.9 1 0.4 5 2.2
All Burglary 1139 47.4 94 8.3 32 2.8 595 42.5 13 2.2 12 2.0
Robbery of Individuals 221 9.2 8 3.6 3 2.8 106 7.6 0 0 0 0
TWOC 572 23.8 112 19.6 7 1.2 220 15.7 9 4.1 7 3.2
Aggravated TWOC 21 0.9 2 9.5 0 0 7 0.5 0 0 0 0
All TWOC 593 24.7 114 19.2 7 1.2 227 16.2 9 4.0 7 3.1
Thefts from vehicles 1006 41.9 222 22.2 2 0.2 329 23.4 38 11.6 3 0.9
Shoplifting 2576 107.3 92 3.6 91 3.5 1303 93.1 16 1.2 28 2.1

TOTAL of all 5535 230.6 552 9.4 135 2.4 2560 182.9 74 2.9 50 1.9
above crimes

It is important to recognise that such relative figures do not in themselves prove that it was the IRIS project
that alone achieved such an apparently significant reduction in the proportion of offenders whose offences
were detected, nor a much smaller but still significant impact on the amount of recorded crimes of these
types in the Oxford LPA. It is possible that a wide range of other factors have influenced these results
including public vigilance, improved policing practices, the activities of other elements of the criminal
justice system (e.g. prosecution, court convictions, sentencing practice and prison regimes) and many other
factors which directly influence the offending decisions offenders make. What it does however demonstrate
is that if only a proportion of the offenders who are prolific and commit serious property offences can by
some means be persuaded to reduce the frequency, gravity and volume of the offences they commit, then a
real and substantial impact can be made on certain types of crimes in a geographical area The fact that the
reductions in the number of offences for which the group of 20 IRIS offenders were charged and TIC was
greater than that of the 14 comparison group offenders, is evidence not only that they were probably
committing far fewer offences than before, but also that those IRIS offenders who did re-offend were more
likely to be detected, arrested and convicted, and were more likely to be recalled to prison and remanded in
custody. It also appears that where the offences were of a more serious kind or were extensive, they were
being given custodial sentences more frequently.

13. Analysis of the estimated economic costs of IRIS,
the savings it has achieved and its overall cost benefits
Thames Valley Police provided detailed economic data on the set-up costs of IRIS and the running costs for
the first year of its operations. Mrs Cheryl Woodward, the senior finance manager, provided the detailed
information but the interpretation is solely the responsibility of the author.

Costs of setting up IRIS

Approximately £70,000 was spent in the year prior to the start of IRIS in its development and planning.
This work was undertaken by Ms Pat Peters in her capacity as the Drugs Co-ordinator for the Thames
Valley Police, assisted by an acting detective inspector and an experienced woman police officer. This was
an important stage in the development of IRIS and enabled the project to commence with carefully thought-
out procedures and protocols already in place.

Costs of running IRIS in its first year of operation

When IRIS began to first operate in the autumn of 2003 it had three police officers (including a sergeant),
an experienced support worker, and a seconded probation officer (wholly funded by the police). For six
months of the first year the project also had a drugs worker (an employee of SMART) who was also funded
by the police. Over 90% of the costs of IRIS were made up of the salary costs of its staff, and a quarter of
the time of Ms Pat Peters as the local police drug co-ordinator, who was responsible for the overall
development of IRIS. Some of the costs were only incurred in the first year, notably the costs of this
evaluation and its consultancy element, furniture, and new computers to support the IRIS database, which
will not occur in subsequent years or. Some costs could not be accurately estimated, including the cost of
the accommodation in the police station, telephone, fax and police communications costs, heating and
lighting, office sundries and other organisational support systems and facilities. These costs are common to
all work undertaken by police staff and are not specific to the IRIS project. They might be an important
consideration if in the future IRIS was replicated in a location where suitable accommodation was not
available in an existing police station.

It was possible to calculate a range of different estimates of the cost per offender subject to IRIS oversight
during the first year of its operation. While IRIS examined the eligibility of many more offenders identified
by the J track system, only twenty individual offenders were placed on the IRIS list of prolific offenders
and all of them were supervised in the first year of operation. The cost per offender for running costs alone
was £10,300, and if costs which were largely specific to the first year (e.g. evaluation and initial
consultancy costs) are excluded from calculations, then the cost per offender reduces to £9,900 per year
(standard costs). In the near future the standard cost per offender should decrease slightly below £9,900 per
offender, as the project nears its target for concurrent supervision of offenders (approximately twenty five
at any one point in time).

The IRIS project was also allocated a grant of £50,000 by the Oxford Drug Action Team, from the National
Drug Treatment Agency, to be only used for residential drug treatment for offenders on IRIS. This grant
was spent on five offenders from the group who attended residential treatment centres for a maximum of
six months’ residence. This grant was not been renewed in the second year, as a new process of funding has
been introduced.

It should also be recognised that because the IRIS project fully funded the post of the probation officer in
the team for the whole of the first year of operation, there was a saving to the local probation area. The
probation officer wrote pre-sentence reports (PSRs), supervised offenders in IRIS on different community
sentences (particularly community rehabilitation orders and drug treatment and testing orders), and
supervised offenders in IRIS on post-custody licences, which otherwise would have had to be undertaken
by probation staff employed and funded by the local probation area. It is not possible to accurately estimate
the savings to the local probation area but it must have been at least a third of the probation officer’s salary
costs of just over £28,000

Table 13A Costs of IRIS

Set up Costs 2002-2003.

Salaries of police staff working on development £67,242.13

Iris data base development £545.00

Development meetings £525.25

Total £68,307.38

Running Costs 1st October 2003 – 30th September 2004

Salaries of full and part-time IRIS staff £186,759.75

Transport £3,862.50

Computer, furniture and consultancy/evaluation £13,125.00

Steering group meetings £346.84

Miscellaneous costs, including IRIS stationary & publicity £1,660.39

Total £205,754.00

Additional One Year Drug Action Team Grant £50,000.00

N.B. These costs do not include any overhead cost for accommodation, telecommunications, heating and
lighting, or other organisational supports and facilities provided by the Thames Valley Police.

Estimations of the economic and social costs of specific types

of offences
Using estimates produced by the Home Office in 2000 and in 2005 (Home Office Research Studies
217/2000 and 30/2005) of the economic and social costs of crime against individuals and households, it is
possible to produce fairly robust and reliable estimations of the different component costs and full costs of
different crimes. Using these estimates it was possible to estimate the component and full economic costs
of the majority of the offences which the IRIS and comparison group of offenders were known to have
committed. It was also possible therefore to estimate the cost savings consequent upon less frequent or less
serious re-offending by both the IRIS and comparison group of offenders. In Table 13B the estimated costs
of fourteen different categories of offences have been broken down into three different sub-groups:
• the anticipation costs of offences including defensive arrangements and insurance costs

• Consequential costs to individual victims including replacement value of goods stolen or

damaged, costs to the victims of injuries and loss of employment, costs to the health services for
the treatment of victims injuries

• the costs of the response to the offences by all parts of the criminal justice system.

Table 13B - Estimated costs of different types of criminal offences derived from

Home Office Report 30/05 (2005)

Cost of CJ Total
Anticipation Consequential
costs costs
HAVE BEEN ESTIMATED response costs

A Shoplifting. £33 £300 £301 £634

B Theft, Receiving £111 £516 £217 £844

C Deception. Benefits Fraud * £111 £516 £217 £844

D Theft from Vehicle/s £166 £542 £150 £858

E TWOC, Aggravated TWOC £916 £3,023 £199 £4,138

F Burglary Dwelling £398 £1,733 £1,137 £3,268

G Aggravated Burglary ** £398 £3,265 £1,137 £4,800

H Other Burglary *** £960 £1,535 £495 £2,990

I Robbery from person £21 £4,660 £2,601 £7,282

J ABH, Other Wounding £2 £7,076 £978 £8,056

K Assault, Assault Police Officer £0 £1,185 £255 £1,440

L Serious Driving Offences,**** £166 £1,185 £320 £1,671

M Arson not Endangering Life £49 £865 £120 £1,034

*Estimate for Deception, Benefit Fraud is based on the estimate for other thefts, as was the case in the Home Office
Research Study No. 127. (1999)
** Estimate for Aggravated Burglary is based in the costing of Burglary Dwelling plus a combined costing from
criminal damage and assault.
*** Estimate for Burglary Other is from Home Office Research Study No. 127 plus estimated inflation.
**** Estimate for Serious Driving is based on estimates of moving road traffic offences resulting in ‘slight’ injury or
damage from offences involving illegal speeding or dangerous driving from Home Office Study No. 127, plus
estimated inflation.
The table gives the estimated full economic costs, combining the first three components. As can be seen the
costs vary considerably and the proportions of the different components also vary between offence types. It
was not possible to obtain accurate and reliable estimates on the full economic and social costs of five types
of offences which the IRIS and the comparison group offenders were known to have committed: drug
possession and supply, unlawful sexual intercourse, vehicle interference, resisting arrest and perverting the
cause of justice. However these offences in combination accounted for less than 0.4% of the offences
committed by IRIS offenders and 0.3% of offences committed by the comparison group of offenders.

Tables 13C and 13D shows the distribution of the full economic costs of offences charged or taken into
consideration for the twenty IRIS offenders (13C) and the fourteen comparison group offenders (13D), in
the 24 month period before IRIS commenced and the subsequent 12 month period. They show the relative
full costs of the offences for which they were convicted in court and the higher number of offences of
which they were charged or had taken into consideration. They also show the estimated full economic costs
separately and the costs which are only made up of costs to victims and to health services.

Table 13C - Estimated Costs of Offences (IRIS Group – 20 offenders)
Victim Victim
Charges & Charges &
Convictions costs Convictions costs
only only
N £ N £ £ N £ N £ £

A 70 44,380 99 62,766 29,700 12 7,608 18 11,412 5,400

B 30 23,320 42 35,448 21,672 5 4,220 14 11,816 7,224

C 11 4,455 25 10,125 7,500 2 810 3 1,215 900

D 31 26,590 236 202,488 151,512 5 4,290 40 34,320 25,680

E 33 136,554 118 488,284 356,714 6 24,828 10 41,380 30,230

F 15 49,020 82 267,976 142,106 6 19,608 13 42,484 22,529

G 1 4,800 2 9,600 6,530 0 0 2 9,600 6,530

H 11 32,,890 29 86,710 44,515 1 2,990 4 11,960 6,140

I 2 14,564 6 43,692 27,960 1 7,282 1 7,282 4,660

J 3 24,168 8 64,448 56,608 0 0 0 0 0

K 2 2,880 5 7,200 5,925 0 0 2 2,880 2,370

L 37 61,827 38 63,498 45,030 10 16,710 10 16,710 11,850

M 1 1,034 1 1,034 865 0 0 0 0 0

N 6 5,196 8 6,928 5,528 1 866 1 866 691

Totals 253 £433,678 699 £1,350,197 £902,165 49 £89,212 118 £149,441 £124,204

Table 13D - Estimated Costs of Offences (Comparison Group – 14
Victim Victim
Charges & Charges &
Convictions costs Convictions costs
T.I.C. T.I.C.
only only
N £ N £ £ N £ N £ £

A 54 34,236 96 60,864 28,800 18 11,412 30 19,020 9000

B 20 16,880 50 48,200 25,800 10 8,440 15 12660 7740

C 12 10,128 32 27,008 16,512 6 5,064 16 13,504 8256

D 2 1,716 2 1,716 1,284 2 1,716 3 2,574 1926

E 5 20,690 7 28,966 21,161 4 16,552 8 33,104 24184

F 10 32,680 25 81,700 43,325 4 13,072 7 22,875 12131

G 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

H 5 14,950 9 26,,910 13,815 5 14,950 6 17,940 9210

I 3 21,846 3 21,846 13,980 0 0 0 0 0

J 4 32,224 6 48,336 42,456 2 16,112 10 80,560 70760

K 4 5,760 5 7,200 5,925 1 1,440 3 4,320 3555

L 12 20,052 13 21,723 15,405 0 0 0 0 0

M 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

N 5 4,330 18 15,588 12,438 1 866 4 3,469 2764

Totals 138 £215,492 255 £390,057 £240,901 53 £89,624 99 £210,021 £149526

The most accurate comparisons are those which take full account of the periods of time the offenders were
at liberty to offend, otherwise periods of incarceration are included which would obviously appear to favour
offenders who were not free and able to commit offences of these kinds. The costs per month at liberty also
allow for the slightly larger number of offenders in the IRIS group, compared with the size of the
comparison group. They represent the most valid and reliable comparisons of both the pre and post IRIS
periods, and they also provide a better comparison between the reductions for the IRIS group of offenders
and the comparison group. Table 13D shows that for the IRIS group the average cost of convicted offences
per month goes down from £1244 to £607 per month, a fall of 53%, and the average cost of the offences
charged and taken into consideration went down from £3891 to £1306 per month, a fall of 66%. For the
comparison group the average cost of convicted offences slightly increased from £792 to £800 per month,
and the average cost of the offences charged and taken into consideration increased considerably from
£1,434 to £1,875, an increase of 30%. The six percent difference in the IRIS group between the percentage
reductions per month (72%) and per month at liberty (66%) could indicate the extra cost benefit which
accrued from the more rapid incarceration of those offenders who re-offended or were not compliant. This
may have been achieved by the quicker detection of re-offending, the more active breaching of court

orders and recalls to prison for licence breaches, all of which contributed to the earlier incarceration of
those who continued to offend and/or were not complying, and particularly the small group of IRIS
offenders who re-offended as or more seriously.

TABLE 13E - Full economic and social costs of offences, known to

have been committed by the IRIS and comparison group of offenders,
prior to and after the commencement of IRIS
Comparison Group
IRIS Group (20 offenders)
(14 offenders)

Charged & Charged &

Convicted Convicted

Total cost pre IRIS £431,678 £1,350,197 £215,492 £390,057

Per month £899 £2,813 £641 £1,083

Per month at liberty £1,244 £3,891 £792 £1,434

Total months 347 347 272 272

Total cost post IRIS £89,212 £191,925 £89,624 £210,026

Per month at liberty £607 £1,306 £800 £1,875

Total months 147 147 112 112

% difference per offender

-59% -72% +1% +31%
per month

% difference per offender

-51% -66% +1% +31%
per month at liberty

Table 13E compares the consequential costs of offences committed by the first twenty IRIS offenders in the
24 month period before IRIS commenced, with those committed in the 12 month period after the project
commenced. These calculations are only based on estimations of the consequential losses to victims, from
the replacement value of goods, injuries suffered by victims (including loss of income) and any
consequential health service costs, and do not include those to the criminal justice system or of security
expenditure or insurance administration. These costs are those the wider public would most probably
recognise as real savings when less victimisation occurs. The largest percentage reductions were in respect

of some of the most serious offences: violence (96.2%), TWOC (83.1%) and criminal damage and arson
(78.4%), but there were reductions in all types of offences including burglary (63.6%), robbery (66.7%) and
thefts from vehicles (66.1%). Using this measure, the cost of offences known to have been committed by
the group of twenty IRIS offenders fell from £902,165 for the 24 months prior to IRIS to £124,204 in the
12 months since IRIS commenced. This represent a fall per month from £1,880 per offender to £517, a
reduction of 72.5%. Using the more precise measure of cost per offender for each month at liberty in the
community, the cost per offender per month falls from £2,560 to £845, a reduction of 67.0%.

Table 13E Comparative consequential costs to victims and health

services of offences known to have been committed by the first
twenty Iris offenders in the pre and post Iris time periods

Offence Types Pre IRIS Post IRIS Percentage Reduction

( 24 Months) (12 Months ) (Estimated on 24 Months)
Shoplifting £29,700 £5,400 62.3%

Thefts £21,672 £7,224 33.3%

Deception £7,500 £900 76.0%

Thefts from vehicles £151,512 £25,680 66.1%

TWOC £356,714 £30,230 83.1%

All burglaries £193,151 £35,199 63.6%

Robberies £27,960 £4,660 66.7%

All Violence £62,533 £2,370 96.2%

Serious Motoring £45,030 £11,850 47.4%

Criminal damage/arson £6,393 £691 78.4%

Totals. £902,165 £124,204 72.5%


Cost per offender £1,880 £517 a reduction of 72.5%

per month

Cost per offender £2,560 £845 a reduction of 67.0%.

per month at liberty

The estimated cost reduction results also have benefits for the whole of the criminal justice system,
including the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, probation and prison services, by reducing the number
of consequent court appearances, pre-sentence reports, community and custodial sentences, and post-
release licences. However the major beneficiary within criminal justice system is the police service itself,
whose resources which can be redeployed to other areas of peace keeping, law enforcement and public
safety. Table 13F shows the results of savings estimated only for police activity costs. It demonstrates that
the reductions in the seriousness, frequency and volume of offences known to have been committed by just

twenty known prolific offenders in one local police area, can produce estimated savings of £4,539 per
month in police activity costs or an estimated annual saving of £54,468.

TABLE 13F - Estimated costs and savings in police activity, arising

from offences known to have been committed by the 20 Iris offenders
Offence types Police % of % of Pre IRIS Post IRIS
Activity Costs All costs CJS costs Police Costs Police Costs

Shoplifting £134 21% 45% £13,266 £2,412

Theft £191 23% 88% £8,022 £2,674

Deception £191 22% 88% £4,775 £573

Theft from vehicles £131 15% 87% £30,916 £5,240

TWOC £171 4% 86% £20,178 £1,710

All Burglaries £576 17% 51% £55,315 £5,466

Robberies £878 12% 35% £5,268 £878

Violence £412 8% 42% £3,891 £238

Serious motoring £285 28% 89% £10,830 £2,850

Criminal damage/Arson £102 9% 85% £710 £76


Totals & Averages £307 16% 70% £153,171 £22,117

Police activity costs for all offences was £319 per offender per month pre IRIS, and £92 per month post IRIS, a
reduction of 71%, and a saving of police activity costs of £4,539 per month or £54,828 per annum.

Police activity costs for all offences was £442 per month per offender at liberty pre IRIS, and £150 per month per
offender at liberty post IRIS, a reduction of 66%.

Cost benefit analysis of the first year operation of IRIS

In the previous section it was shown that it is possible to make estimations of the economic costs of specific
types of offences, and to calculate possible savings in police activity costs from reductions in the frequency
and seriousness of re-offending. It is therefore possible to estimate the cost benefits of the operations of
IRIS, assuming that it was IRIS that primarily contributed to the significant reductions in re-offending.

The estimated twelve month reduction in the full economic costs of offences known to have been
committed by the twenty IRIS offenders was £483,173. Therefore the savings that IRIS has achieved was

estimated to be £277,419 per annum based on the full running costs. If the added value of the DAT grant of
£50,000 for residential drug treatment is included in the costs it reduces the saving to £227,419 per annum.

The estimated twelve month reduction in the estimated consequential costs of offences for victims and
health services was £326,446. The estimated savings are £120,692 per annum based on the full running
costs, and £70,692 if the value of the DAT grant is included in the costs.

The savings per offender per annum on the IRIS project can be calculated by dividing the different rates of
saving by the twenty offenders the project supervised during its first year of operation. This calculation
produces savings of almost £13,871 per offender per annum, based on full running costs and full economic
estimates of offence savings, and £11,371, if the value of the DAT grant is included in the costs. If savings
related to costs to victims and health services alone are included, the saving per offender per annum is still
£6,035 (including full running costs), and £3,535 if the DAT grant is also added in to costs.

The goal of any cost-benefit analysis is to calculate the internal rate of return of the investment in a
particular operation. The generation of a positive cost-benefit ratio implies that the monetary value of the
benefits achieved by the project has more than offset the amount of resources invested in it. In respect of
IRIS, based on calculations of only one year’s benefits from the reduced frequency and seriousness of
known re-offending, the cost-benefit ratios are:

1.35 if running costs and the estimated full economic benefits from less offences are included;

1.08 if the DAT grant is included with costs and the full economic offence benefits are included;

0.59 if running costs and only the benefits for victims and health services are considered;

0.28 if the DAT grant is included and only the benefits to victims and health services are considered.

From the above cost-benefit ratios it can be clearly seen that IRIS achieved in its first year of operation
some substantial economic benefits, well in excess of the economic resources invested in it. The accepted
conventions in cost benefit analysis would normally only include running costs, but would include
additional known costs including the DAT grant IRIS received. Therefore if these costs are included in the
cost benefit analysis of the first year of operation of IRIS, then in respect of the full economic benefits of
the crime reductions achieved the ratio is 1.08, and if only the economic benefits to victims and health
services are included the ratio is 0.28.

1. The project has been targeting the correct type of offenders. The IRIS scoring system has
successfully identified recidivist offenders with recent histories of known prolific offending, and with high
probabilities of re-offending as demonstrated by their OGRS2 scores. The IRIS scoring has been applied
rigorously and consistently; only limited modifications have been made, none of which appears to have
affected the validity of it, nor have they produced significant variations in the way offenders are prioritised.
Its use has clearly prevented ‘net widening’ and has protected the project from being overloaded with
excessive numbers of inappropriate offenders.

2. All the offenders identified as suitable for IRIS appear to have been informed consistently and
effectively about their IRIS status, ensuring that they understand the project and its objectives.

3. Many of the identified offenders, having initially been voluntary participants, increasingly become
subject to statutory supervision. This shows how offenders frequently experience changes in the statutory
basis for their supervision under IRIS. It also provides important evidence of the growing confidence of the
magistrates and the Crown courts, and penal establishments, in the work and distinctive benefits of IRIS

conditions in orders and licences. IRIS appears to have achieved a significant improvement in the levels of
compliance with court orders and licence conditions for the greater majority of the offenders subject to it.

4. The range of work done with individual offenders is impressive in terms of both quantity of
contact and the quality of support offered. The links with other local and more distant agencies have grown
gradually, widening the type of support available and the experience of IRIS staff. The severely limited
range of accommodation provision is clearly a real problem in Oxford for these types of offenders. The
range of drug projects locally available is extensive, but often individual offenders need immediate
interventions, to capitalise on their drug-free status when released from custody, or when motivation to
change is at its greatest. The project has established excellent working relationships and protocols with a
wide range of other service providers, and has also worked successfully with a number of residential drug
treatment centres in other parts of the country.

5. The number of offenders on the project has grown gradually. There is no absolute maximum
number for the project to work with at any point in time but to maintain its intensity and consistency of
contact with the offenders it has to ensure it is not overloaded by too many offenders at any point in time.
As offenders are re-remanded or receive further custodial sentences, the number of active cases may
temporarily reduce, but most of the eligible offenders are quickly released from custody and may become
criminally active again. It is already clear that the numbers of eligible IRIS offenders will continue to grow
gradually, especially amongst the young adult group graduating from the YOT, DTO and ISSPs. The
project will need to monitor its growth carefully and prevent staff overload, and any consequent reductions
in the frequency and regularity of contacts with IRIS offenders.

6. IRIS was able to achieve very high levels of contact with the vast majority of offenders, including
the extensive use of telephone contacts with many offenders. They also managed to achieve high levels of
direct contact with offenders in prison on remand or after sentence. The issues addressed by IRIS staff
directly were wide-ranging, with drug abuse, children, partners and family relationships the most common,
but also with critical issues of accommodation, finances, jobs and education very prominent in many
offenders’ concerns. There was evidence of significant benefits arising from the direct work IRIS staff
undertook with them, and also considerable progress being made by those offenders whom IRIS staff
assisted in placing in residential drug treatment programmes.

7. In comparison with a sample of similarly recidivist offenders, the IRIS offenders collectively
achieved greater reductions in both the frequency and seriousness known of re-offending. A small
proportion of the IRIS offenders continued to offend regularly but even amongst this sub-group, the number
of offences was significantly lower. There was evidence of the reductions in offending by the first twenty
IRIS offenders making a small but significant contribution to the amount of recorded and detected crime in
the Oxford Local Police Area.

8. The IRIS project contributed substantially to the amount of intelligence available on all the
offenders supervised, and its work with them greatly increased the number of stop checks and reported
sightings of them. In the first year of operation there was little evidence of increases in the number of
formally recorded intelligence, stop checks and sightings report being made by other police staff.

9. There were significant economic benefits as calculated by estimates of the economic and social
costs of crimes known to have been committed by the IRIS offenders. In comparison with the costs of the
IRIS offenders’ previous offending histories, and compared with the much smaller reductions achieved by
the comparison group, it was possible to demonstrate real economic benefits from the first year of the IRIS
project. These benefits were greatest for the actual victims of their crimes and for health services. There
were also considerable benefits for the criminal justice system, including measurable benefits to local
police activity costs.

10 Based on the evidence available from the first year of operation, it is clear that IRIS has been
effective in achieving its objectives and can be directly associated with considerable reductions in known
offending by IRIS offenders. The current evidence is necessarily based on small numbers and only on
twelve months’ follow-up, and therefore needs to be replicated over a longer time period and with greater
numbers of offenders. Some of the reductions may well be accounted for by natural regression, because

persistent offending is a fluctuating phenomenon, but the comparative evidence does point to even greater
reductions than might have occurred naturally.

11. Support from the Oxford Local Police Area of the Thames Valley Police has from the outset been
considerable and there is now solid support from the Probation Area. However, experience in other projects
indicates that project development is crucial in maintaining the quality of the provision. IRIS will need to
be carefully managed as it develops, including attention to monitoring the excellent team ethos and
collective practices, replacing staff as required with similarly well chosen new ones, and ensuring that the
system for determining the eligibility and selection of offenders remains objective and evidence based.

Overall so far IRIS has been a considerable success, with measurable cost benefits and improvements in
compliance by the offenders, as well as loner term life-style benefits for a considerable number of the
offenders. What IRIS above all demonstrates is that through using with committed staff working as a team,
with clear objectives and consistent practice, putting into practice the principles of effective offender
management and intelligence-led policing, even prolific and highly recidivistic offenders can be enabled to
reduce their levels of offending, for their own benefit and principally for the good of the wider public


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