Circle works with vulnerable families, including those affected by substance misuse and parental imprisonment. Circle staff work with the whole family and adopt a solutions-focused strengths-based approach in the belief that families have the capacity to resolve their own problems, focusing on strengths rather than deficiencies.

Circle approached Pro Bono Economics in September 2015 to assist with evaluating the value of their ‘Alternatives to Imprisonment’ project, now referred to as the ‘Women’s Outreach Team’. The aim of the project is to provide an intensive outreach support service including, where required, electronic monitoring as an alternative to custody for women. In line with the Commission on Women Offenders report recommendation, prison should be reserved for the small number of women in Scotland who need to be imprisoned for reasons of public protection. Only approximately 18% of women in prison are subject to high levels of supervision.

Circle aims to divert low-level female offenders from the criminal justice system towards non-custodial community-based services. In partnership with Addictions Support and Counselling (ASC), Circle provides support with health (mental and physical), addictions, relationships, housing, education and training, finances and parenting to ensure women are rehabilitated within their own homes and communities and desist from crime.

Circle approached Pro Bono Economics with the following key questions:

1. What is the potential social, fiscal and economic value of the project?

2. What are the costs and benefits to women, their families and the State of the “whole family” approach adopted by Circle?

PBE matched Circle with Scottish Government Economists to examine these questions. An advice report to the charity laid out actions required to ensure a robust and proportionate evaluation of the programme’s process and impact could be undertaken and how to set about evidencing the programme’s value for money. The report is an important stepping stone towards building a business case aimed at the criminal justice system in Scotland to show the value and benefits of the service.

Economist volunteers Helen Duncan and Caroline MacFarlane have offered additional support to help guide Circle to undertake a process evaluation and baseline survey. We’d like to thank them for their time and hardwork supporting Circle during this project.

18th July 2016