About the Project

Discovering Desistance is a project aiming to share knowledge and improve understanding about why people desist from offending.

The project involves:

  • Producing an educational documentary exploring the issues related to desisting from crime
  • Holding a series of workshops for probation professionals to examine the issues raised in the documentary
  • Exploring the implications of desistance research for probation practice and developing ideas about how to better support the process of desistance

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.  The project lead is Fergus McNeill (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow) and other members of the project team are Stephen Farrall (University of Sheffield), Claire Lightowler (Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services) and Shadd Maruna (Institute of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Queen’s University Belfast).

15 thoughts on “About the Project”

  1. If we can be of any help with your research please get in touch. Penrose is introducing a desistance framework model in its Forensic Mental Health services and our integrated offender management service in Lewisham London. The integrated service is an incentive payment contract where we get paid on our results to help reduce reoffending working with 300 SU’s. We are providing structured programmes, alternative therapies, education, employment an family mediation and support. Lots more things going on and trying out new idea s all the time wiith strong service user / family involvement.

    If you think we might be able to help please feel fee to call me on 07966 499 070

    Kind Regards

    Gill Arukpe
    Penrose CEO

    1. Dear Gill — Sorry I didn’t notice your comment before. Your project sounds really interesting, and very relevant to the recent posts on desistance and recovery networks. Maybe you’d like to write us a post about your experiences so far? Fergus

  2. Hey Guys,
    I have just undertaken a comprehensive literature review of the “Recovery” model relating to substance misuse for a presentation, and with an in-depth knowledge of the desistance paradigm through gaining a BA Criminology, wondered to myself “Why do the two fields not collaborate on projects?”. Which may sound a wee bit naive. As ultimately their end results are the same with “desistance” or “recovery” been the desired status for offenders and substance misuser’s alike.
    Surely if one was attempting to construct, deliver and embed a Desistance focused program then lessons could be learnt from the fields of substance misuse, mental health and alcoholism as the recovery model has had a great deal of success in those fields. I am curious as what you guys think about the idea of a multi-field collaborative project. Has something similar been attempted previously? Would it be a case of too many chiefs and not enough Indians?

    1. Hi Paul — Yes, I think there is a lot in this and I know that Shadd has often thought about (and sometimes written about the ‘read across’ these inter-related fields. There is a whole literature out there on self-help and mutual aid networks which could be usefully drawn upon, and the other obviously connected (but under-examined) link is with resilience perspectives. If we conceive of desistance (at least partly) as a process of human development, then it does seem obvious that a lot could be learned from thinking about other similar or related processes (though we should also be careful of the distintiveness of different developmental processes. Of course, desistance isn’t only a developmental process — its links to questions around reintegration and justice (criminal and social) raises some wider issues not so much about the desister as about the social and community contexts of reintegration. A person might reform themselves, but they certainly can’t reintegrate themselves. A multi-field collaborative project — or better still a whole research programme — sounds like a great idea! Fergus

      1. Hi,
        I have just came to this old conversation, following Shad sending around the link of this website with the film (thanks to Shadd!). However, the new Positive Criminology (different than the former positivistic criminology) attempts to be the perspective that brings together recovery, desistance and more.

  3. We would be happy to host an event if you would like to do something in the south west. Our offices just south of Bristol are the most accessible for the region. Very close to Bristol Airport. Would be good to include IOM police too. Fergus, you have my work number.

    1. Thanks Sally. Unfortunately, we only have funding for one or two meetings in England, and so will probably need to keep it central (like Sheffield, perhaps). That said, we may well want to follow up the project with trips elsewhere, maybe taking the film out and about and facilitating workshops after people have seen it. Certainly, this whole project is just one more step in what we hope will be an ongoing process.

  4. On reading others comments – a further note re substance misuse and desistance. Absolutely re application. Was at a national IOM Conference (England and Wales) in June 2011 and working with colleagues there from the NTA who knew not of the current desistance literature. Had discussion on it when mtg with Shadd soon after. Fwded to NTA N.E. region some initial references and materials from Fergus and Shadd, to set a ball rolling. aA national push on this with NTAs would be excellent.


  5. Hi Shadd,
    Is it likely that the DVD (The road from crime) would be available when you visit High Down on July 3rd. As you know High Down, led by the Governor Peter Dawson, has been delivering a training programme to staff and partners on the Principles of Desistance for a number of months now. Having had view of a preview- the DVD would be a fantastic and very appropriate promotion tool to support our work and progress against the Desistnace principles, in particular as its from the ‘inside’ so to speak.

    1. Eddie — Shadd may not spot your message, so best to email him direct at s.maruna@qub.ac.uk — but the short answer is yes, the film will be available and I’m sure he’d be as keen as I am for you to use it. Fergus

  6. The term ‘Ex Offender’ is, as a statement of fact, true, However what We must ascertain is this; for how long long is One ‘ex’.
    Ex is a very hard prefix that implies wrong doing
    ‘Former’ is far ‘softer’ yet still inappropriate.
    For me, After eleven years, I would prefer no more labels.

  7. Hi, I am currently doing my Masters through research in Ireland and my title is “A Brighter Future: Understanding Desistance in young Irish men”. I have been working on the front line with young people involved in offending for almost 8 years. I am currently a Youth Justice coordinator working with young people to divert and prevent further or future offending. It is through my experience in the field in Ireland that I felt that my research was necessary as I am unaware of any such research in the Irish context. The aim of my research is to gain insights into the experience of young Irish “Desisters” in order to better understand the complexities of the process of Desistance and how this can impact on future practice in responding to the needs of young people involved in offending. My research question is: What is the catalyst/ what causes/ what leads to desistance for young adults involved in offending? I am hoping that through my research I can prove my hypothesis: If we better understand the elements which lead to the desistance or persistence of offending in young Irish men then we can better support them to maintain engagement in the process long term through the development/ stream lining interventions and practice. I feel that the focus of my research and that of your project are very similar and I would love to try to create some opportunities for collaboration/ idea sharing.

    I am very familiar with the research and writings of many of you involved in this project and I would love to get some advice, pick your brain or just chat about the general topic. I would love it if you could please contact me via email.

    Kindest Regards
    Brianna Connaughton

  8. Hi I was wondering if you can tell me what the policies are practices are for supporting desistance from crime.

  9. I am a male 28 year old New-Zealand ex offender who has turned my life around. I got myself clean via a drug rehab and turned to my passion for music. I enrolled into MAINZ a music and production school. Im now in my 2nd year and after my study this year I plan to start a production company, ( Marc-Tayler Productions ) We will be based around helping troubled youth that have a passion for music escape there negative surroundings and find stability in there life, giving them support, socially and financially. We will also provide net-works to educational facility’s and a positive environment where they can record there music.

  10. Really helpful website and resources for my dissertation on the strengths based approach for the rehabilitation of offenders with addictions.

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