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Trends in reoffending are measured by three different measures: frequency of reoffending, the severity of reoffending, and the proportion of offenders reoffending. Results are produced separately for adults (aged 18 and over) and juveniles (aged 10 to 17).

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Overview

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:

  • gender

  • age

  • ethnicity

  • previous offending history

  • index offence group (original offence type)

  • index disposal (original sentence type)

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Technical Data

Measuring reoffending

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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Glossary

  • Actual (yes/no) rate

    The actual numbers 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.

  • Cohort

    The group of reoffenders that represent the first quarter of the years: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

  • Community Order

    For offences committed on or after 4 April 2005, the new Community Order introduced under the CJA 2003 replaced all existing community sentences for those aged 18 years and over. The court must add at least one (but could potentially add all 12) of the following requirements: supervision, unpaid work, specified activities, prohibited activities, accredited programmes, curfew, exclusion, residence, mental health treatment, drug rehabilitation, alcohol treatment, or attendance centre requirement for under 25s.

  • Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA03)

    For offences committed on or after 4 April 2005, the new Community Order replaced all existing community sentences for adults. The Act also introduced a new Suspended Sentence Order for offences which pass the custody threshold. It also changed the release arrangements for prisoners.

  • Custody

    The offender is awarded a sentence to be served in prison. If the offender was given a sentence of 12 months or over or was less than 22 years old on release, the offender is supervised by the Probation Service on release. It is important to note that the sentence-length awarded will be longer than the time served.

  • Frequency rate

    The actual number of offences the cohort committed during the one-year follow-up period that 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.

  • Index disposal

    The index disposal of the offender is either the type of court order the offender started, or custody, for an offender released from prison, in the first quarter of the relevant year. This is the disposal the offender receives for their index offence.

  • Index offence

    The index offence is the offence the offender committed in order to be serving either the prison or community sentence for which they entered the relevant cohort.

  • Offence group

    There are around 3,000 offence codes on the PNC. These have been classified into 21 groups: violence (non-serious), violence (serious), robbery, public order or riot, sexual, sexual (child), soliciting or prostitution, domestic burglary, other burglary, theft, handling, fraud and forgery, absconding or bail offences, taking and driving away and related offences, theft from vehicles, other motoring offences, drink-driving offences, criminal or malicious damage, drugs import/export/production/supply and drugs possession/small scale supply and other.

  • Proven Reoffending

    An offender is said to have committed a proven reoffence if the offender receives a conviction at court for the reoffence. A reoffence must have been committed within the one-year follow-up period and the conviction must follow either within that one-year follow-up or in a further six months, which is to allow time for the offence to be proven at court.

  • Public Service Agreement 23 (Making Communities Safer)

    Public Service Agreements (PSA) set out government commitments and the outcomes the Government wants to achieve in a spending period. Priority Action four of the PSA 23 is to reduce reoffending through the improved management of offenders and contains indicators on reducing reoffending. For more information on PSA 23, please visit the HM Treasury website (see link in related topics).

  • Severity rate

    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.

  • Suspended Sentence Order (SSO)

    The CJA 2003 introduced a new Suspended Sentence Order for which the offender is given a custodial sentence suspended for between six months and two years. During this time the court specifies a number of requirements from the set of options available for the Community Order and these are supervised by the Probation Service.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Katherine Millar

Email: katherine.millar@justice.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3334 6037

Justice Statistics Analytical Services 7th Floor 102 Petty France London SW1H 9AJ

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