Education and social care predictors of offending trajectories: An administrative data linkage study

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science

Abstract

Criminal behaviour is a global public health problem associated with a wide range of poor health and social outcomes for victims and perpetrators. Such behaviour typically follows distinct pathways or trajectories, with some individuals behaving antisocially throughout their life, and others for only short periods of time such as during their adolescence. However, accurately predicting which pathway an individual child or adolescent may follow remains difficult. Accurate prediction of those who are most at risk of behaving antisocially throughout their life would help to inform targeted interventions in educational, social care or criminal justice settings. Routinely collected educational and social care data may be very important in informing such predictions. Important information on learning development, school attainment, school exclusion, child protection involvement and special educational need is available for every child in state education in the UK. Such information can now be linked with the child's later offending records. This type of data has enormous potential public benefits by being truly representative of the whole population and highly cost effective because the data has already been collected. This study will establish whether it is possible to use routinely collected education and social care data to identify those children and adolescents who are more likely to become persistent offenders before involvement with the criminal justice system begins. This will help influence decisions on how best to support them, potentially reducing criminal offending and its associated social and economic costs.

In this 12-month project I will use routinely collected information on crime records for individuals aged 10-32 years born on, or after, 31st August 1985 p to and including 31st August 2007 which are linked to the same individuals' prior educational and social care records when aged between 4 and 18 years. First, I will use a statistical analysis approach called latent class analysis to identify different trajectories of offending behaviours following a first recorded conviction or caution. Second, I will adopt a statistical learning approach, which is a form of machine learning, to see if it is possible to predict the offending trajectories identified in step 1, using prior education and social care information. With machine learning, computers can learn to make decisions and predictions without being directly programmed to do so and can potentially identify important factors that we as humans may miss.

The identification of children and adolescents at higher risk for persistent offending will be used to inform early intervention approaches and criminal justice responses to reduce offending and by extension contribute to evidence-based policy making. The project findings will also highlight how routinely collected data can be used to improve public services for children and adolescents. In order for these benefits to fully realised, I will document my work on the project for publication on ADR UK, Ministry of Justice and Department of Education websites. I will produce two academic publications and give a series of presentations over the course of the project to other academics and project beneficiaries. I also plan to engage with youth charity organisations and wider project stakeholders to discuss project results and discuss future directions of this work. For example, findings from this project, in consultation with stakeholders, could be used to inform the development of a tool that could discriminate between the likelihood of future offending trajectories in an educational setting, that will help children get the help they need early on.

Publications

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Dickson H (2023) Education and social care predictors of offending trajectories: A UK administrative data linkage study in International Journal of Population Data Science

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Dickson H (2022) Education and social care predictors of offending trajectories: A UK administrative data linkage study. in International Journal of Population Data Science

 
Description This project is ongoing so the final results have not been completed and the impact of the work being undertaken has yet to be fully realised. However, to date I have completed the 1st stage of my project or objective 1, which was to identify trajectories of (re)-offending following first recorded conviction or caution using Police National Computer data for individuals born 31st August 1985 up to and including 31st August 1999. This is the first time that UK administrative data has been used to explore patterns of (re)-offending and utilises one of the largest and most recent samples of individuals who have offended. Moving forward, it would be important to see if we can use different education and social care factors to discriminate between these trajectories. This has the potential to provide deeper insights into how these factors might affect offending patterns.
Exploitation Route Although the project has not finished, the key findings have the potential to inform criminal justice system responses based on the different patterns of (re)-offending observed.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.adruk.org/news-publications/news-blogs/
 
Description ADR UK PhD studentship
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation King's Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Centre 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2023 
End 11/2027
 
Description ADR UK Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact My second blog for ADR UK has now been published on the ADR UK website. In this blog, I briefly describe the results of the first stage of my project. The aim is to keep the public updated on my progress to date and my next plans. This blog was published on 17th March so any impact is unknown.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description ADR UK Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I wrote a blog for ADR UK on my plans for the first stage of my research. https://www.adruk.org/news-publications/news-blogs/exploring-the-impact-of-education-and-social-care-on-offending-patterns/. This work is ongoing so no known outcomes and impacts have arise as yet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description ADR UK Project page 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On the ADR UK website, I described my research fellowship plans. I did this to advertise the research I am undertaking. As the research is ongoing, my outcomes and impact have not been achieved.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Data First Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I presented some emerging findings and some early policy implications at this event to a wide range of individuals in government and third sector organisations. Plans to present new findings at similar events in the future have been made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Presentation at the Data First Academic Seminar in Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact As part of this academic seminar, I presented my research fellowship plans. The idea was to make interested parties aware of the work being undertaken and establish connections within the MoJ to support ongoing and future work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Research presentation - MoJ 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I presented some early results to data analysts and other interested individuals in the MoJ as part of their 'Lab' meetings. The goal was to get people in the MoJ interested in the external research going on using MoJ data. This was achieved and I have been asked back to present new results when I have them.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Research presentation - Oxford University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented my my research plans to the Forensic Psychiatry society at Oxford University. The audience was clinicians and academics. The work was well received and as a result I was asked to present my final findings to the Behavioural Insights team at the end of 2023 - https://www.bi.team/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Research presentation to the Ministry of Justice User presentation panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact I presented my research fellowship plans to the MoJ User representation panel. This was to help shape the direction of research and to make third sector organisations aware of the work being undertaken. As a result, I have made plans to present my work to some organisations when completed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Stakeholder focus groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact At the beginning of my research fellowship, I conducted focus groups with patients charged or convicted of a criminal offence residing in low secure mental health services within the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS trust. It is estimated that as many as 90% of prisoners have some form of mental health problem, making these individuals key project stakeholders. A challenge of engaging stakeholders in research is to ensure that they have sufficient research training and feel prepared to contribute their perspectives. Although project objectives and outcomes formed part of the focus group discussion, the emphasis was on the strengths and limitations of using administrative data in research and ethical issues surrounding the use of this data in the prediction of negative outcomes. Services users indicated that the early identification of youth-at-risk for later offending was important, but that the misuse of data, real-world utility and implementation of any crime forecasting tool were enormous challenges that may outweigh any potential benefits. Findings from these focus groups will be used as the basis of my planned stakeholder activities due to take place at the end of the fellowship period.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022