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Supporting victims of crime and measuring outcomes

Researchers: Caroline Turley
Published: November 2012

Aim

To support and develop the Ministry of Justice's Commissioning Framework for victim services, we are working with Professor Julian Roberts from the University of Oxford to review:

  • the existing evidence and practice surrounding victims’ support needs
  • how victims' outcomes are measured
  • the quality assurance in the victim support sector.

The Commissioning Framework  aims to support victims to achieve two outcomes:

  • To cope with the immediate impacts of a crime.
  • To recover from the harm they have experienced.

Findings

You can read the complete review here or download a resource we have developed to help services adopt an outcome-focused approach.

The review identified a number of factors that have implications for outcome-focused commissioning:         

  • Identifying appropriate outcomes for the service in question is vital. Selecting unrealistic or inappropriate outcomes risks setting a service up to fail. Collaboration and dialogue between service commissioners and providers is needed to ensure appropriate measures are identified. 
  • Capacity and infrastructure: it is critical that outcome measurement is proportionate to the size and capacity of the organisation involved. Requirements for significant outcome measurement should be factored into funding arrangements. 
  • Training and support: outcome measurement poses challenges that require both providers and commissioners to grasp a range of research and evaluation techniques. Service providers emphasised that training and support was needed to ensure an understanding of the issues involved. 
  • Recognising limitations of outcome measurement approaches, such as attributing causality, capturing change over time and validity challenges, mean that while outcome data are valuable, they are not sufficient on their own to measure performance. It is therefore important to find other ways in which providers can demonstrate quality. However, limited funding and resources were barriers to implementing quality frameworks and/or gaining accreditation, particularly for smaller organisations. 

Resources to support an outcome-focused approach

We developed a resource to provide support and information when adopting an outcome-focused approach. Factors that were taken into consideration when developing the resource included: 

No ‘one size fits all’: the resource reflects the diversity of the sector and recognises that outcome measurement approaches vary across providers.

Building on existing evidence and guidance: the increasing focus on outcome measurement across a range of policy areas means valuable lessons can be learnt from other sectors.

Audience: a range of stakeholders are involved in identifying and monitoring outcomes. While service providers are a key audience, the resource we developed will also be useful to other stakeholders, including service commissioners.

Methods 

The review had four components:                 

  • A literature review of current research evidence in relation to victims’ needs and outcome measurement;
  • Depth interviews with leading academics and experts in the victim sector;
  • Case studies of third sector victim support service providers, involving a depth interview with a senior member of staff and a focus group with frontline practitioners; and
  • A findings workshop attended by victim support service providers.

Download the review

Download our resource to help services