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What's research got to do with it?

- A blog from our Social Policy and Research Officer, Tim Roebuck.

With the first of Offploy’s new regularly published research blogs, its topic is given great weight. There are many interesting things to talk about in the world of criminological research that we could just dive right into. Instead, we have opted for a slow burn rather than a loud bang. You - research enthusiasts, business partners, criminal justice practitioners - will be gently lowered into the discussions that are to follow issue by issue. But first we must announce ourselves.

We are Offploy. We are working to support people with criminal convictions into meaningful, mentored, sustainable employment. We are also conducting research – but why? Who do we think we are, a university? No. Nor do we need to be. It is our belief that quality research can be conducted on the frontlines in partnership with the academy. Research leads to discovering new approaches to helping people, refining the approaches we have and bolting down the bits that are working. This is exciting, it is potential. No longer should there be a gap between the academy that discovers and the practitioners that implement. We have one foot in each.

In our business we have never made it a secret that we aim to gather data as responsibly as possible; to utilise contemporary and reliable methodologies that allow us to conduct statistical analyses and answer our questions. So where is all this going? Let me explain:

1. We want to be reliable. Gathering data is one thing. Analysing it is another. Organisations in the third sector claim to do this regularly. What marks Offploy as different is that we will let you in on everything we do, how we do it and why. Data collection is conducted ethically and responsibly by trained peer mentors. Statistical analyses are conducted by stats-trained social scientists. Research findings are published significant or not, positive or not. If any of these are not achieved to your standards, we want you to call us out on it. Our aim is to be as transparent as possible. If we get something wrong, we want you to know so you can tell us how to do it better. After all, is that not what the research community is for?

2. We want to be evidenced. How to conduct interventions with a target group is a tricky question. The voluntary sector has the benefit of being at the forefront of experimentation – if you have an idea that you can get funded, let’s see if it works. What we don’t want is for things that aren’t proven to produce a positive impact to continue to drain the funds that are available for other great ideas. Using our research findings to the maximum means finding where our gaps in delivery are, which aspects of our interventions aren’t producing the best results, acknowledging this and making positive changes. We will never know exactly what works but we can certainly get a better idea of it.

3. We want to improve the sector. Given good research, research findings and evidence-based practice, we see only one benefactor – the candidate. Improved quality of intervention means better outcomes for everyone. Better outcomes mean a healthier sector and a healthier society. This can only be achieved on the largest scale if everyone does it. Therefore, it is our hope that we can make the mistakes necessary for others to learn so that we can all be better, sooner.

Stay up to date with our research blog for more information from within the sector and outcomes of our work. If you have any further questions regarding Offploy-specific research, please contact our Social Policy and Research Officer, Tim Roebuck, by email at


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