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There are three main variables that are used to measure trends in reoffending: frequency rate – the number of offences committed, severity rate – the number of serious offences committed, actual (yes/no) rate of offending – the proportion of offenders offending at least once. The three main measures of reoffending are broken down by the following categories, which are available as public data:
previous offending history
index offence group (original offence type)
index disposal (original sentence type)
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The three main measures used to measure reoffending are the frequency rate; the severity rate and the actual (yes/no) rate of reoffending. The frequency rate is used to record the actual number of offences the cohort committed during the one-year follow up period which resulted in a conviction at court. The actual proven one-year frequency reoffending rate is produced by calculating the number of proven reoffences per hundred offenders.
The severity rate is the actual number of the most serious offences the cohort committed during the one-year follow up period that resulted in a conviction at court. As with the frequency rate, the severity rate is produced by calculating the number of proven severe offences per hundred offenders and is therefore, a subset of the frequency rate.
The actual (yes/no) rate of reoffending is the actual number of offenders reoffending at least once during the one-year follow up period, where the reoffence resulted in a conviction at court. The actual (yes/no) reoffending rate is presented in this report as a percentage of the total number of offenders in the cohort.
These measures are likely to provide a reliable picture of reoffending and give a more detailed picture and understanding of the impacts of offender management.
Measuring performance against targets
Frequency of reoffending per hundred offenders is the headline measure of reoffending and is used to assess progress against the PSA 23 target. The Home Office PSA 23 (Making Communities Safer) specifies the reoffending target in terms of a 10 per cent reduction in the frequency of reoffences committed per hundred offenders by the year 2011. PSA 23 also includes a measure of the number of most serious offences per hundred offenders.
How we count people
Under PSA 23 the starting point for the reoffending indicators is to take all offenders discharged from custody or commencing a court order supervised by the probation service in the first quarter of a year, between 1 January and 31 March. Offenders are then matched to the Police National Computer (PNC) and their criminal history is collated and criminal behaviour is tracked over the following year.
What counts as an offence
All figures in this report are derived from data obtained from the PNC. The PNC provides data to show whether or not an offender is proven to have reoffended during a one-year follow-up period, as well as the frequency and seriousness of reoffences committed.
Any reoffence committed in the one-year a period that is proven by a court conviction, either in the one-year period or in a further six months, counts as proven reoffending. This enables us to calculate the frequency of reoffending, the number of most serious offences and the actual reoffending rate.
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