Penal Communication, 2001-2002


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

The overall aim of this mixed methods research project was to contribute to the conceptual and practical development of community penalties. This was to be achieved through the following objectives: to use empirical research to inform theory about penal communication and to explore the application of those ideas to community penalties, in order to develop understandings about the contribution which community penalties make to penal aims, and thus to contribute to the development of a stronger conceptual framework for community-based options; to assist the probation service in understanding how pro-social modelling can be incorporated into supervisory practices, and the contribution it makes to the effectiveness of those practices in terms both of securing cooperation and compliance with community orders and in moving offenders towards more constructive and law-abiding lives; through the above two objectives, to develop understanding of the contribution which research can make to policy and practice, particularly as it applies to community penalties. The penal communication research was carried out over a three year period. Its aim was to use the views of lay magistrates, probation staff, offenders and victims (the four research groups) to investigate normative questions raised by penal theorists. The study comprised the following stages: stage 1: 'Exploring Punishment as Communication': first round interviews - 63 individuals were interviewed in total; 21 magistrates, 19 probation officers, 13 offenders and 10 victims; stage 2: 'Adding Quantitative Weight': 771 questionnaires were completed by respondents drawn from the same four groups, but across five counties; stage 3: Follow-up interviews: these were arranged with twelve individuals (three magistrates, three offenders, three victims and two probation officers) whose views reflected the range emerging from questionnaire analysis. In fact, eleven follow-up interviews were eventually conducted, as only two of the three interviews with 'victims' took place. These follow-up interviews provided an opportunity to discuss specific questions raised in earlier analysis, using hypothetical examples to probe an issue in depth. evaluation of Community Service (CS) Pathfinder Projects. Data from all stages are included in the UK Data Archive (UKDA) collection.

Main Topics:

This mixed methods data collection includes both qualitative interview transcripts and a quantitative data file. Topics covered in the qualitative interviews include the meaning of punishment, purpose of sentencing and punishment, probation, community service and combination orders, prison sentences, youth justice, public perceptions of sentencing, attitudes to criminal behaviour, reparation and restorative justice. In addition, the follow-up interviewees were asked to elaborate on responses they had given in the questionnaire. Topics covered in the quantitative questionnaire include the meanings of punishment, purpose of sentencing, amount of punishment, and perceptions of how offenders respond to punishment.

See documentation for details of sampling

Face-to-face interview

Postal survey

Metadata Access
Creator Rex, S., University of Cambridge, Institute of Criminology
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2005
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Copyright S. Rex; <p>The Data Collection is available to UK Data Service registered users subject to the <a href="" target="_blank">End User Licence Agreement</a>.</p><p>Commercial use of the data requires approval from the data owner or their nominee. The UK Data Service will contact you.</p>
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Text; Numeric; Semi-structured interview transcripts
Discipline Jurisprudence; Law; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage Bedfordshire; Cambridgeshire; Gloucestershire; Greater London; Hertfordshire; England