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We provide fresh insight – analysing and implementing the best evidence about what works well to cut crime and providing the tools to measure the performance of each part of the criminal justice system.


We provide the strategic and technical know-how to enable clients to turn insight into practice and deliver tangible change, even when there is less money available.

News and views

HMP Spin

Devising a ‘handling strategy’, particularly for a prime ministerial announcement is a test of anyone’s mettle. It stretches relations between journalist and adviser, and calls for a large amount of trust and a certain amount of luck. Like a complicated dessert recipe, its success relies on timing and the quality of the ingredients, and if you get it right you’ll be rewarded with the most delicious result.

A twenty year sentence – policy behind Cameron’s prison speech

Monday’s speech on prisons by David Cameron is a significant event in and of itself coming as it does two decades on from the last time a Prime Minister gave an address on this subject. Ever since a young Tony Blair tore into Ken Clarke for being ‘soft’ on crime, the subject of ‘prison reform’ has rarely been thought to be a vote winner...

If strategy is God, the Devil is still in the detail

The photocopied leaflet came through my letter box on Sunday morning. An appeal from my local police for witnesses to a rape committed half a mile away on New Year’s Day. The following thoughts went through my mind...

Why we need a different discussion about crime

Yesterday the latest set of crime figures were published, triggering a well established and familiar process. First out of the traps are the Home Office, publishing a press release welcoming the figures and heralding the success of the government’s programme of ‘police reform’/ ‘investment’ [delete as appropriate]. Soon afterwards follows Her Majesty’s opposition (who to be fair, have had 24 hours’ less time to prepare for the figures than the government).

How low will Gove go?

The Times splash yesterday on Michael Gove’s plans to review sentencing paints a picture of an ambitious and confident Justice Secretary, willing to make tough (and potentially unpopular) decisions for the long-term good of the criminal justice system. Could devolution solve Gove's conundrum - how to meet the costs of a rising prison population alongside finding £600m worth of additional savings by 2019?

Police cuts: no further action?

Mark Sedwill, the Home Office Permanent Secretary, took the stage at the first Police Chiefs and PCC Conference in Manchester just after George Osborne sat down having delivered the Spending Review and Autumn Statement. The timing could not have been better: PCCs and Chiefs were ‘getting up from the floor’ following the Chancellor’s announcement that police spending will be protected in real terms ‘when local precept income is taken into account’.

Getting tough on the causes of crime

As the fallout from the Paris attacks continues, the debate about police cuts has shot back up the political agenda, having barely featured during the General Election campaign. According to the Resolution Foundation, the Home Office is set to be one of five ‘big losers’ from the Spending Review, facing cuts of 30 per cent or more. Applying reductions on that scale to the Home Office’s budget would probably result in police officer numbers falling to levels last seen in the 1970s.

The Batman and Robin of criminal justice

Batman and Robin, Ant and Dec, Torville and Dean, Ben and Jerry, Thelma and Louise. Great partnership working makes it all look so easy. If only it was so easy for the rest of us. Partnership working is, normally, not that interesting. And so, the latest inspection of local criminal justice partnerships, ‘Working in Step?’, was pushed off the front-page by stop and search and President Xi’s visit.

Latest crime statistics: what the headlines aren’t telling you

Today’s figures should not be over-interpreted. We are still safer than we were twenty years ago. But the shift of crime online and the rise in complex violent offences is putting the criminal justice system under considerable pressure.

What to expect for policing and justice in the Spending Review

George Osborne’s Budget won him praise from across the political spectrum. Besides the positive headlines, the Chancellor also bought some important wriggle room, by smoothing the path of deficit reduction over the course of this parliament. Yet he has still left himself much to do in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.

Cutting crime: the role of tagging in offender management

On any one day up to 25,000 people are subject to electronic monitoring (EM) in England and Wales, largely as part of a Community Order, Bail Order or post-release licence condition. In the last few years pilots have also been undertaken to test the impact of EM in tackling domestic violence, alcohol-related offending and prolific and priority offenders.

Local responsiveness not “post-code lottery”

Yesterday's HMIC report called for greater consistency in policing across England and Wales. HMIC’s Roger Baker said he was “concerned to find that a member of the public will receive a different response from the police for the same type of crime or incident, depending on where they live.”

Confiscation, the real long arm of the law

Crime boss, Terry Adams, appeared in court last week to try and escape paying the rest of his debt to society, which equates to just more than £650,000. The court report shows that seven years after his conviction in 2007 his lifestyle is still under active investigation and his personal expenditure is being picked over by National Crime Agency investigators.

Biotech – the new cybercrime?

Cyber crime has been highly profitable for global criminal networks but there is a new threat emerging, the exploitation of biotechnology. Biotechnology is the creation of drugs and other useful products using “nature's toolkit” by adapting or exploiting processes found in living organisms.

New evidence on how to rehabilitate offenders

It can be a common refrain that ‘nothing works’ when it comes to rehabilitating offenders, but aUS paper published this spring, claims that a critical mass of evidence to the contrary has been gathered over the last 20 years. Encouraging findings from programmes in the fields of psychology, criminal justice, sociology and public policy suggest that evidence-based intervention is working.

As child abuse investigations take shape, old crimes are transforming British society.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced a major independent inquiry into claims that, for decades, accusations and evidence of child abuse were dismissed, ignored and mishandled by many of Britain’s most important institutions.

Do the public still trust the police?

There is no one universal definition of trust. In one sense trust is about being honest and ‘telling the truth’. But in the context of government trust relates to the quality of the service delivered. Here, trust is synonymous with the public's ‘confidence’ and ‘satisfaction’.

Finding the tipping point between privacy and security

“The collapse of Syria; the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; Boko Harm in Nigeria; al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen; like minded groups in Libya; al Shabaab in East Africa; terrorist planning in Pakistan and Afghanistan; industrial, military and state espionage practised by states and businesses alike; organised crime that crosses national boundaries; the expanding scope of cyber…”

Should Judges or Politicians decide the sentence for possession of a knife?

Mandatory jail terms for offenders caught twice with a knife are poised to be introduced despite a deep coalition split over the move. Conservative ministers will abstain in a Commons vote on the measures next week because they cannot support proposals that have not been agreed on by both governing parties.

Learning from young people’s point of view of policing

By sweeping generalisation, young people are often described as troublemakers and blamed for crime and antisocial behaviour. We don’t often stop to think about the types of crime they experience themselves, the sorts of challenging circumstances they find themselves in or their own perceptions of the police.

Criminal Justice Sector Projects in the red

In the fallout from the European elections, last week’s publication of the annual Major Projects Authority Report may have received less attention than it deserves. The Report lists 199 of the most significant government projects due for completion by 2020 and candidly rates their current status from green to red.

If we are told that crime is at a very low level, does it make us feel safer?

Martin Innes, Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University and an Advisory Board Member here at Crest Advisory, is recognised as one of the world's leading thinkers on policing and social control. His third book ‘Signal Crimes: social reactions to crime, disorder and control’ is out this month.

Twitter proven to help the police predict crime

Social media allows a different way for the public to directly pass intelligence to officers, but how can we use the discussions on twitter to focus law enforcement effort?

The neuroscience of restorative justice

Dr Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And in a recent TED talk he asks instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury … could we help the brain re-grow morality?

All the findings you need to know – National Audit Office Report

Newspaper coverage of the NAO report was minimal with a single Evening Standard headline stating that reoffending annually costs the same as hosting the Olympic games every year - £13 billion. Otherwise the NAO report largely crept under the radar.

Social Media Emergency Management – Police Professional

Crest was featured in this weeks Police Professional article on how blue-light services manage communications in a crisis.

Penetration Testers and Cyber Security

This week Google invested in another two cyber security start ups, as venture capitalists flock to back a new wave of companies fighting cyber crime.

What do the police do all day?

This week's Economist asks " What do the police do all day?" The answer is "Social work, relationship counselling and a spot of psychiatry" apparently.

The British Prison Estate

The National Audit Office published their report into the prison estate. “Managing the prison estate” The study examined whether the prison estate strategy is likely to improve the value for money of holding all prisoners remanded and sentenced by the courts.

We’ll be having Ewe: the rise of rural crime

Chris Salmon, the Dyfed Powys PCC hosted a conference on rural crime this week. 70 delegates attended the conference with representatives from public, private, voluntary sector and community groups part in the summit.

Nairobi: The beginning of a global trend?

As Kenya continues the three days of mourning after the shootings in East Africa, David Kilcullen, an anthropologist who has served in the Australian Army and in the US State Department, appeared on the Today programme on Wednesday morning to discuss the changing nature of urban violence.

Probation Changes; Will they really work?

The Ministry of Justice released information about probation reforms in four documents yesterday including a Ministry of Justice Press Release, a Principles of Competition document and the Target Operating Model (‘TOM’).

How to manage your Stage 2 transfers

Sean Byrne - one of the Crest team – writes about the transfer of staff to PCC’s offices and the lessons learnt from managing change in other public, private and third sector organisations.

Dealing with missing people & the innovators’ dilemma

Sean Byrne - one of our associates – draws lessons from the new guidance for dealing with missing people.

PCCs in the media: the debate goes local.

Immigration remains the hottest policy issue, but ‘plebgate’ trumps all Our own analysis this week – produced by our communications team (led by Richard Edwards) – describe the focus of the 615 home affairs news articles that were produced by the national press between January and March.

12 things Russell Webster, ­our resident PBR and probation expert, learnt from the Policy Exchange PbR Event.

Russell spent 10 years working with offenders in the UK and USA in both the voluntary sector and as a probation officer. He is the author of over 30 national reports and how-to guides.

The ‘What Works’ Network

On Monday, Danny Alexander and Oliver Letwin launched something so sensible it’s astonishing governments haven’t been doing it before. As Jonthan Jones wrote: “They’re actually going to use evidence to determine which policies work..."

RAND and Crest Advisory enter partnership

RAND Europe and Crest Advisory announce collaboration to ensure PCCs have access to world-class research and analytical services

Problems with Zero Tolerance policing and Analysis of PCC’s Manifestos.

A number of newsletter recipients have been in touch to ask for a summary of PCCs’ pledges. Crest’s clients have received detailed briefing already, but for others we have replicated the ‘high level’ analysis from the Local Government Information Unit.

Crime, police reform and technology

Computer terminals in cars, followed by hand- held devices, have given officers on patrol access to information systems, enabling them to check quickly for stolen vehicles or outstanding warrants.

Mental health and the criminal justice system

There was much discussion about the interaction between those with mental illness and the police at Conservative Party conference on Tuesday and around the world on Wednesday, World Mental Health Day (10th October).

Coalition governments plans for criminal justice reform

Fresh from his first conference as Justice Minister, Damian Green announced a series of pilots to help speed up cases yesterday. 48 pilot sites will test longer opening hours and video technology which links up courts, prison and police cells for first hearings.

How to make crime fall

One of the last things the former HM Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O’Connor did before leaving his post a week ago was to help produce a briefing set on how to reduce crime. Our board member, Professor Martin Innes was on the team who produced the information.

Building an effective PCC office – with lessons from Prime ministers of England

Earlier in the week our team were asked to give advice to a PCC candidate about what an effective PCC office might look like by drawing on our experience of leading the London Criminal Justice Partnership and working in the Prime Ministers’ Office (part of the Cabinet Office).

Procedural justice

When court participants perceive that they have been treated fairly, they are more likely to comply with court directives and the law in general – a concept called ‘procedural justice’.

Collaborate or Perish!

In difficult times individuals, institutions and societies tend to hunker down. Many managers become more risk-averse than ever. Oversight intensifies, shared visions take a back seat, and investment in innovation dries up.

Anti-social behaviour in communities

Earlier this month the Home Office published the results of anti-social behaviour call handling trials that were held in eight forces (Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, the Metropolitan Police Service, South Wales, Sussex, and West Mercia).

Hot Weather, High Crime?

Last year the Daily Telegraph pointed out that: “Hot weather prompted a rise in police calls” (here: and conventional wisdom holds that violent crime increases during hot weather.

Open Public Services and Mutuals

The original Open Public Services White Paper, published in July last year, set out the Government’s approach to public services by applying five key principles intended to provide people with the best possible services for the money spent: choice, decentralisation, diversity (‘public services should be open to a range of providers’), fairness and accountability.

The Development Of Policing

We have been providing a few PCC candidates with our primer on the development of policing (illustrated here:

How Should Police Officers Hold Pistols?

Television programmes shape the public’s views about the effectiveness of all public services.

Campaigners: A Story Time

This week we explore the reasons why campaigners need to tell compelling stories, and why commercial leaders need to draw on powerful anecdotes.

Drowning in Data?

Successful campaigns can be driven by social media, as the 25 PCC candidate tweeters recognise.

Big personalities and their impact on local companies

Labour have told Michael Crick that they’ve had 150 applications for candidates for police commissioners across the 41 police areas, an average of less than 4 per area.

The Changing Nature of the Police and the Public’s Relationship and ‘new’ Campaign Approaches

The Top of the Cops blog highlighted the need to embrace “new” campaigning models this week: “With these Police and Crime Commissioner elections we face a peculiar set of pressures.

Personalities and Policy

The most succinct round up of the developments this week comes from the Economist magazine (here: The article focuses on some of the higher profile contests, but also makes interesting points about turnout

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