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GUIDANCE FOR PROMOTING Probation

PROGRAMME COMPLETIONS
THROUGH RESTARTS AND CATCH- Circular
UP SESSIONS REFERENCE NO:
25/2004
PURPOSE
To announce the introduction of revisions to the policy on re-starting offenders ISSUE DATE:
on accredited programmes and the use of catch-up sessions. 5 May 2004

ACTION IMPLEMENTATION DATE:


Chief Officers should: - Immediate
• Note the introduction of the revised policy
• Support the Regional What Works Managers and other staff in introducing EXPIRY DATE:
the policy April 2009
• Ensure the revised policy is applied as intended
TO:
SUMMARY Chairs of Probation Boards
This paper aims to support areas in achieving completions of accredited
Chief Officers of Probation
offending behaviour programmes. The guidance is intended to maintain
programme integrity, yet provide a move towards creating ‘modules’ within Secretaries of Probation Boards
sequential programmes.
The guidance applies to the general offending groupwork programmes, the CC:
violence programmes and the substance misuse programmes. Board Treasurers
Programmes currently in development will specify their restart points and catch- Regional Managers
up guidance in the supplement to the National Management Manual. RWWMs
EPTMs
RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
PC92/2001 (Appendix 7) AUTHORISED BY:
PC57/2002 (Appendix A) Meg Blumsom: Head Of
Offending Behaviour Programmes
CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES Team
Regional What Works Manager or Sandra Fieldhouse, National Implementation
Manager, Offending Behaviour Programmes Team ATTACHED:
(sandra.fieldhouse@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) Guidance for promoting
programme completions through
restarts and catch-up sessions

National Probation Directorate


Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW General Enquiries: 020 7217 0659 Fax: 020 7217 0660

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection


Offending Behaviour Programmes
Team

Guidance for promoting programme


completions through restarts and
catch-up sessions

Revised March 04
Contents:

Introduction

Catch-up and restart guidance 2002

The revised restart policy

The benefits and risks of multiple restart points

Guidance on restarting an offender

Guidance on conducting catch-up sessions

Monitoring the revised arrangements

Appendices Programme Specific Guidance

Appendix 1 General Offending Programmes

Appendix 2 Substance Misuse Programmes

Appendix 3 Violence Programmes

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Introduction

This paper aims to support areas in achieving completions of accredited


offending behaviour programmes. It changes the policy on restart points in
order to increase flexibility as to where an offender, having exceeded the
permitted number of missed sessions in a programme, should restart it. The
guidance is intended to maintain programme integrity, yet provide a move
towards creating ‘modules’ within sequential programmes.

The new policy is not intended to be a cure for programme attrition, nor is it
meant to introduce additional barriers to effective offender management. The
key to the effectiveness of the programmes is the learning by the offender
and the application of this to changing behaviour. Therefore, It is important to
keep the guidance in context, and not over-rigidly apply it in a ‘blanket’
fashion. The decision to restart an offender at session one or at another
prescribed session; to provide an additional catch-up session; or to suspend
him/her from the programme with a view to revoking the requirement, should
all be based on an assessment of progress, risk and need.

A decision to restart, suspend or provide an additional catch-up must be


defensible and transparent. It is essential that each decision be clearly
recorded. This is vital when making a decision to override the specified
requirements for a programme and/or the information about attendance and
participation given to the offender at the start of the order or programme.

The guidance applies to the general offending groupwork programmes, the


violence programmes and the substance misuse programmes. Programmes
currently in development will specify their restart points and catch-up
guidance in the supplement to the National Management Manual.

Catch-up and restart guidance 2002

The first version of the National Management Manual was introduced in


2000. This provided management requirements for programmes. Where a
programme has specific requirements, for example intensity of delivery,
these are stipulated in a supplement to the NMM. Originally, the policy on
restart stated that if an offender missed more than two sessions s/he had to
be restarted on another group at session 1. This was reviewed in 2001.
PC92/2001 (Appendix 7) specified a number of permissible absences for
each programme available at that time. This is copied below for information.

Think First
If an offender misses up to two sessions for acceptable reasons between
sessions 1 and 14, catch-up sessions should be completed.
If an offender misses two sessions between sessions 1 and 14, attends and
completes catch-up sessions then misses a further session between session
15 and 21 for an acceptable reason, a third catch-up session can be given.
These sessions are primarily concerned with reinforcing learning from earlier
in the programme. A suitably trained case manger can carry out session 22 if
necessary. Offenders who miss more than this number of sessions should be
withdrawn from the programme.

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Reasoning and Rehabilitation
No more than 4 catch-up sessions should be provided. On the fifth missed
session, the offender should be restarted at session 1 of the next available
group. The tutors must assess individual offenders learning before making a
decision about whether to offer a catch-up or to restart the offender on the
next available group. This will involve consideration of the stage in the
programme and the learning progress of the offender. Some sessions are
difficult to catch-up and the tutors must decide if the learning outcome is
achievable in a catch-up session. If this is considered not possible, the
offender should restart the programme.

If an offender misses three sessions in a row, it is unlikely that the learning


outcomes of that section or the whole programme can be achieved.

Enhanced Thinking Skills


If session one is missed the offender should be considered as not having
started the course and should be placed on the next group.
If an offender misses up to two sessions between sessions two and sixteen,
they should attend catch-up sessions.
If an offender misses two sessions between sessions two and sixteen (and
attends catch-up sessions) and then misses one session between sessions
17 and sessions 20 for an acceptable reason, one additional catch-up
session can be undertaken. This is because these sessions are primarily
concerned with reinforcing learning from earlier in the programme.

The revised restart policy

Policy Point 1: Once in treatment, every effort should be made to


ensure that the offenders complete the programme.
Whilst evidence is still limited, recent findings support those of Canadian
research (Robinson 1995), suggesting that offenders who fail to complete
programmes have a higher rate of reconviction than those who complete
and, worryingly, a higher rate than those offenders not starting programmes.1
Many areas are taking steps to support completion, for example, compliance
officers and transporting offenders to venues.

Policy Point 2: Some offenders are unable to complete a programme


due to ‘positive’ reasons, for example, gaining employment.
In these cases ordering a restart at session 1 can be counterproductive in
terms of the offender’s motivation or compliance, and is not a good use of
limited resources.

Policy point 3: Areas should make a professional assessment of an


individual’s progress and have the flexibility to order a restart at a pre-
defined stage, other than session 1.
For example, an offender reaches session 16 of TF, exceeds the stated
number of absences/catch-ups or experiences a change in circumstances
that precludes him/her from continuing to attend, yet all the evidence
suggests positive progress to date.

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The Prison Service Cognitive Skills Programmes Research (McCann 2003) and more recently the TF
research (Ong et al 2004) both found this effect.
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Restart points are specified for each programme. These are dependent on
the programme design and therefore vary from programme to programme.
They aim to maintain programme integrity and support offender learning.

Policy Point 4: When restarting an offender at a point other than


session 1, previous catch-up sessions beyond that restart point do not
count towards the total permissible overall. Catch-up sessions
undertaken before the restart session remain applicable.

The benefits and risks of multiple restart points

Benefits

• Having multiple restart points enables offenders to complete programmes


without having to repeat all sessions already successfully undertaken,
which can be seen as punitive.

• It will support areas in meeting targets and promote the efficient use of
resources.

• It could enable groups to survive by ensuring numbers are sustained,


again improving efficiency.

• It may enable group balance and profile to be addressed more easily,


therefore contributing to managing diversity.

Risks
• An offender restarting during a programme will join a group that has been
working together for some time. There may be problems in assimilating
new members.

• This policy could present challenges to tutors and the quality of


programme delivery may suffer.

• There is a risk that a more relaxed approach will lead to areas being less
consistent in maintaining programme integrity and this will require close
monitoring.

• The research suggests that each successive restart reduces the


probability that an offender will complete the programme, so multiple
restarts by the same offender must be avoided.

• Offenders might learn that they can be given more opportunities to


complete, and might use this to their own advantage. Therefore careful
consideration must be given to the likelihood of completion based on past
and present behaviour. Where judged to be unlikely to complete a return
to court for revocation should be sought. Recording the reasons and the
decision is paramount.

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Guidance on restarting an offender

a) Where the offender misses too many sessions to be able to benefit


from the programme: -

1. Setting requirements that fit all cases is not possible, as the key to making
the decision to restart an offender at a point during the programme has to
be based on the assessment of that individual and the likely impact on the
existing group.

2. The assessment of this must include: the reason for the drop out/non-
compliance; the number of sessions completed; how much the offender
recalls the key learning points; the profile of the group s/he will join; and
the guidance relating to that programme.

Assessing the best option: -

1. Whilst there is no longer a requirement to always restart at session 1 of a


programme, for some offenders this may be the best option. Those who
have had a long gap between the last session and restart, those who are
unable to recall the key learning points from the sessions, and those who
are likely to find it difficult to join an existing group should start at session
1.

2. The length of time since the last session attended should be a major
consideration alongside the offender’s recall of the key learning points,
his/her motivational state and the likely impact of this on the group. The
case manager and tutor should assess the level of recall of the key
learning points by asking about what the offender remembers of the
sessions, and should consider any evidence that s/he has begun to put
these into practice. In order to play a part in this process, the case
manager needs to be very familiar with the programme and understand
the anticipated learning points.

3. In order to help facilitate the introduction of the new member(s) to an


existing group, tutors should recap on the ground rules agreed at the start
of the programme and ensure the new member(s) is/are willing to work to
these. Time taken to do this should not detract from achieving the
learning outcomes of the session; it can be minimised by having the case
manager (or a tutor) check out the offender’s agreement in advance.

4. In considering the possibility of an offender restarting a group an


assessment should be undertaken by the programme tutors of the likely
impact that a new member(s) may have upon the existing group. New
members may only join an existing group where programme tutors
consider that it would not have a highly negative impact. The number of
‘new’ members who may join a group should not exceed 50% of the
number of existing members e.g. if the existing group consisted of 6
offenders then no more than 3 offenders could restart the programme at
that point.

5. The profile of the existing group should be a consideration and singleton


placements of women and black and Asian offenders avoided, if this is
what the offender wishes.
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6. The number of restarts offered to an individual is not prescribed. Although
the purpose of this policy is to maximise completions, the availability of
increased options for restart should not prevent the use of enforcement
proceedings in appropriate cases. Research suggests that offenders are
very unlikely to complete after a second or subsequent restart.

7. Restart points have been determined and must be adhered to. For most
programmes, allowing restarts at any session would be too disruptive to
an existing group and less manageable by the tutors. Any exceptions to
this rule are detailed under the specific programme guidance.

b) Where offenders’ changed circumstances prevent their continued


attendance

1 On occasions an offender may be unable to continue attending a group


due to a change in circumstances or the closure of the existing group, in
these instances, the offender could be transferred to another group at the
next session, preventing any need to repeat sessions. However this must
be based on the assessment of that individual and consideration given to
the impact on the receiving group.

2 Where joining another group at the next session is not possible and the
recommendation is to restart or to return to court, the decision must be
clearly recorded and authorised by a manager.

Additional guidance

1 Occasionally an offender may be unable to attend the last few sessions


of a programme or misses a further session, for example session 19 of TF
and no other group is available or suitable to join. Where this is the case
consideration should be given to completing the remaining sessions on an
individual basis. It is mandatory to use a trained tutor in that programme
to deliver these sessions. For all programmes the final session can be
delivered on an individual basis if circumstances demand this.

2 Where an offender restarts at a point other than session 1, the number of


catch-ups provided before the agreed restart session count towards the
total to avoid an excessive amount of the material being delivered as
catch-up sessions. For example: when restarting at session 7 on TF, if an
offender had a catch-up session for sessions 3 and 9, only the catch-up
for session 3 remains, as s/he will repeat session 9. This then allows one
more catch-up (with the possibility of an additional one after session 15
and of delivering the last session individually).

3 Sometimes group numbers drop below 4, making it difficult to sustain the


group. This is a difficulty when the group is still in the early or middle
stage of the programme. Using one tutor instead of 2 is one option
encouraged in the revised NMM. One other possibility is to place the
group members into another group at the next session. This has been
known as the ‘bus stop’ approach.

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4 The length of time between an offender attending one group and starting
the next should be kept to a minimum. It is impossible to stipulate a
maximum period that would be operationally effective in every case; the
TM should decide this in each individual case on the basis of the needs of
the offender and the length of time since they last attended a session. In
determining the restart point the tutor and case manager should consider
the offender’s needs and the length of time since the last session
attended, and should implement the necessary steps to refresh the
offender’s knowledge.

Guidance on conducting catch-up sessions

A catch-up session cannot entirely replicate the original session experience


or learning opportunity due to; time restrictions; delivered to individuals or
small numbers; the nature of the programme materials or exercises; and
finally, it may be delivered out of sequence to the programme schedule.

1 The catch-up session aims to enable the offender to know enough about
the missed session in order to continue the learning from the remaining
sessions. The time needed to deliver a catch-up depends partly on
practicalities and partly on the ability of the offender(s).

2 The emphasis of the programmes is on skill practice, not purely on


comprehension of the learning points. The programmes evaluation
literature (e.g. Harland, 1996; Hollin, 1999; McGuire, 1995a; Nuttall,
Goldblatt and Lewis, 1998; Ross, Antonowicz, and Dhaliwal, 1995;
Sherman, Gottfredson, Mackenzie, Eck, Reuter and Bushway 1997;
Vennard, Sugg and Hedderman, 1997) clearly highlights the need for the
maintenance of a high degree of treatment integrity. In other words, the
elements of the programme need to be carefully delivered as planned. It
emphasises the importance of a structured, clear, directive, skills-oriented
treatment approach. Thus, catch-up sessions that consist of purely
discussion-based coverage of session content cannot achieve the aims of
the original session.

3 When delivering a catch-up session:-

Concentrate on the main learning points for that session


• It is important that tutors establish that after the catch-up the offender
understands the main points of the missed session.
• Tutors should aim to deliver one exercise per learning point.
• Where the exercise is suitable for delivery on an individual basis or to
very small numbers, aim to deliver it as intended. Where the exercise is
clearly not conducive to the situation consider an alternative way of
passing on the information and achieving the learning point (for example
instead of running a role reversal exercise the offender might be asked
what would be the different points of view of the characters involved).
• Sometimes a didactic approach might be appropriate in catch-up sessions
in order to get the learning points across succinctly.
• Catch-ups should pay attention to assignment work that should have
been completed between sessions. In some cases such as diary keeping
this may be needed later in the programme.

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• Where two sessions have been missed it is permissible to deliver material
from both sessions as part of a single catch-up, but this may take longer.
• Every effort should be made to ensure that offenders who have missed a
session attend a catch-up prior to the next session. However, on some
occasions it may be necessary for the catch-up to take place afterwards.
In these circumstances tutors need to set the material in the context of the
later sessions.

Monitoring the revised arrangements

Version 3.3 of the Interim Accredited Programmes Software (IAPS) is


currently being implemented. This will be reviewed and amendments made to
ensure that evidence on attrition, completion rates and effectiveness can be
reported on by number of restarts.

The session review forms, treatment manager video monitoring and the
change control process are all in place and these will identify issues related
to the revisions of this policy.

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Appendices Programme Specific guidance

Guidance on programmes in development will be issued in the supplement to


the NMM for that programme. The supplement for the Cognitive Skills
Booster programme will be issued within the next few weeks as will the
guidance for the Women’s Programme that is operating in 3 areas

Appendix 1 General Offending Behaviour Programmes

ETS
Up to two missed sessions between session 1 to 15 can be covered by
catch-up sessions.
Where a third absence occurs between session 1 and session 15, the
offender should restart at session 1 or 7.
Where a third absence occurs after session 15, a third catch-up session is
allowed.
Where a fourth absence occurs after session 15, the offender should restart;
in addition to sessions 1 and 7, a further restart point of session 16 can be
used. This is because sessions 16 to 20 are primarily concerned with
rehearsal and practice rather than teaching new skills.
Session 20 can be delivered individually or in small groups.

TF
Up to two missed sessions between session 1 to 14 can be covered by
catch-up sessions.
Where a third absence occurs between session 1 and session 14, the
offender should restart at either session 1 or session 7.
Where a third absence occurs after session 14, a third catch-up session is
allowed.
If a fourth absence occurs after session 14 an additional restart point of
session 14 can be used. This is because sessions 15 to 21 are primarily
concerned with applying the learning from earlier in the programme rather
than teaching new concepts.
Session 22 can be delivered individually or in small groups.

R&R
R&R is the longest of the general offending behaviour programmes. Where
an offender misses a fifth session or a third consecutive session, restart
should be agreed at the most appropriate point depending on the level of
learning. Restart can be undertaken at sessions 1, 10, 18, and 30.
The final session can be delivered individually or in small groups.

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Appendix 2 Substance Misuse Programmes

ASRO
ASRO is modular, and therefore is flexible, in that an offender can restart at
the beginning of any module.
The current guidance of 2 catch-ups across the 20 sessions will continue with
the additional option of a third catch-up session after session 16. This is
because these sessions are primarily concerned with rehearsal and planning
rather than teaching new skills.
Session 20 can be delivered individually or in small groups, given the focus
on simply reviewing the programme.

DID
The Drink Impaired Drivers programme consists of 14 sessions. Where an
offender fails to attend session one they must restart another group. Session
one cannot be covered by a catch-up session as it explains the theoretical
model used throughout the programme.
Up to two sessions can be covered by catch-ups.
After a third missed session the offender must be suspended and can restart
at session 1 or 8.
The final session can be delivered individually or in small groups.

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Appendix 3 Violence Programmes

ART
The ART programme consists of 18 sessions. Where an offender fails to
attend session one they must restart another group. Session one cannot be
covered by a catch-up session.
The first four sessions cover the main concepts of the programme. In the
remaining sessions the three components of ART develop alongside each
other and the programme does not fall into defined sections.
Up to two missed sessions can be covered by catch-ups.
After a third missed session the offender must be suspended from the group.
The offender can be restarted at any session other than sessions 2, 3 or 4
and the appropriate point should be agreed by the tutors and case manager
on the basis of where the offender needs to go back to in order to benefit
from the programme.
The restart point must overlap previous attendance by at least two sessions.
The final session can be delivered individually or in small groups.

CALM
The CALM programme consists of 24 sessions. The programme is divided
into six modules.
Session one cannot be covered by a catch-up session; offenders who miss it
must restart the programme.
Offenders may not miss more than two sessions in any one module of the
programme.
They may not miss more than two consecutive sessions.
They may miss no more than four sessions in total. Missed sessions must be
covered by catch-ups.
An offender who exceeds these limits should be assessed and consideration
given to restarting at session 1, 3, 7, 11, 16 or 20.
The final session can be delivered individually or in small groups.

IDAP
Modules can be undertaken in any order but the entry point for each module
has to be session 1.
Offenders can join the programme at any module except module 6 (unless in
exceptional circumstances) with the exception of restarts.
Attendance is required at the 3 sessions of the initial module undertaken.
Failure to attend any of these should result in suspension and restart at the
next available module.
No more than one catch-up session is allowed per module and it should be
completed prior to the next scheduled session.
A maximum of 3 catch-up sessions per offender across the programme is
allowed.
The catch-up session for session 1 of any module will require the full time
allowance, for other sessions the time may be reduced.
An offender should not miss the first sessions of two consecutive modules. If
he does this will mean restarting the latter module.

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