Research to Practice – Highlights from Canada, Australia, Singapore & New Zealand

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Significant operational research is being conducted in many correctional jurisdictions worldwide, often serving as a guidepost for important decisions about change in policy or practice. Though influential internally, this applied research is not typically disseminated widely, nor does it receive the respect or attention of more academic research published in scholarly journals.

Moderated by the Chair of our R&D Network, ICPA is pleased to host this Webinar to look at some examples of how operational research can significantly influence agency practice. We will highlight four international examples of applied, operational research agendas that have made a difference… from Canada, New South Wales Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.

Brief presentations from the Heads of Research in each of the four agencies will focus on what their research was looking at and why it was done, a brief description of key findings and an overview of what change actually occurred because of the research.

The Webinar will end with a panel dialogue addressing How We Can Get Research to Have More Influence on Correctional Practice.

Webinar Schedule by Time Zone

Tuesday August 6th, 2024
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM (EST), Ottawa, Canada 
Wednesday August 7th, 2024
7:00 AM - 8:30 AM Singapore
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Sydney, Australia 
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Aukland, New Zealand


From Research to Practice: Evolution of Correctional Service of Canada’s Approach to Assessment and Treatment of Federal Offenders

The risk, need and responsivity principles (RNR; Andrews & Bonta, 2010; Andrews et al., 1990; Wormith et al., 2007) have long had a profound influence on offender risk assessment and treatment in Canadian federal corrections. For over 20 years the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has systematically collected a wide array of information at offender intake to support the assessment of risk, identification of offender needs, and consequently, the assignment of offenders to appropriate interventions. The assessment tools, the treatment model, and means of respecting offender responsivity considerations have evolved against the backdrop of a changing theoretical landscape, and accumulated evidence. This presentation will provide a quantitative overview of evidence regarding CSC’s assessment tools and correctional treatment, as well as the burgeoning capacity of CSC to adapt services consistent with the responsivity principle and commensurate with offender profile characteristics.
Presenter: Dr. Ian Broom is the Director General of the Research Branch of Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). He has spent over 20 years working for the Canadian federal government in various policy and research leadership positions in the domain of criminal justice. Prior to joining CSC, he was the Director General of Policy, Planning and Operations at the Parole Board of Canada; experience that has proven highly instructive in understanding the essential need for effective release planning commencing at the moment of intake into correctional facilities.

The Triage Risk Assessment Scales (TRAS): Development and Operationalisation of Automated Risk Assessment Tools Within Corrective Services NSW

This presentation outlines a series of studies conducted by the research and evaluation arm of Corrective Services NSW, which aimed to develop a suite of automated risk assessment tools in response to the substantial resource costs of manual assessments for large cohorts of people serving orders. Drawing on existing research in risk assessment in addition to actuarial analytical techniques, we developed and validated multiple tools which aimed to support case management of people in custody and in the community, as well as those with offence-specific needs. Findings from these studies informed the large-scale viability of automated methods of assessing risk, and had implications for validation and tailoring of assessments to local populations. Processes whereby the TRAS tools have been and continue to be incorporated into changing Corrective Services NSW practices will be discussed.
Presenter: Dr. Mark Howard is a forensic psychologist by trade with several years’ experience in the local criminal justice system, providing psychological assessments and expert evidence for the NSW Courts. He received his PhD at the University of NSW in 2013, focusing on cognitive inhibitory responses to traumatic events. He is currently Manager of Research and Evaluation at the Corrections Research Evaluation and Statistics (CRES) branch of Corrective Services NSW. In collaboration with a team of researchers and external partners Dr Howard is currently engaged in a range of research projects, with interests in prison and other correctional climates, sexual offending, mechanisms of change in treatment, and program evaluation.

Desistance Research in the Singapore Prison Service

Looking at ‘desistance’ has been an active area of research in Singapore Prison Service (SPS). Since 2015, SPS has studied several aspects of desistance. These include investigating the factors facilitating the desistance process as well as the barriers as experienced by the offenders in Singapore. Adopting both quantitative and qualitative methods, SPS has delved into the individual and environmental factors influencing offenders’ desistance journey, including the experiences of specific populations like female offenders and those with substance use. Findings in this desistance research have impacted SPS’ rehabilitation efforts at the policy and practice fronts. In terms of policy, the research findings have resulted in concerted efforts to raise awareness in building the human, social and community capitals of offenders. This has included strengthening the rehabilitation ecosystem by working together with offenders’ families, volunteers, employers, and community partners by SPS and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG). At the practice level, desistance principles are now infused into into SPS’ strengths-focussed Psychology-based Correctional Programmes (PCPs) and family programmes to facilitate the building and strengthening offenders’ human and social capitals to support their desistance journey.  
Presenter: Ms. Salina Samion is currently a Principal Psychologist and the Deputy Director, Psychological and Correctional Rehabilitation Division (PCRD) of the Singapore Prison Service. She oversees the design and evaluation of psychological correctional programmes as well as correctional research for SPS. Throughout her career as a psychologist with Singapore Prison, Salina has led the development, delivery, and evaluation of correctional programmes for offender rehabilitation.

Wishing for the Crayfish Won’t Bring it: The Challenge of Translating Evidence Into Practice in Aotearoa New Zealand Corrections

“He manako te kōura i kore ai – Wishing for the crayfish won’t bring it” is a Māori proverb that speaks to the importance of moving from hope to reality by being deliberate and working hard with a clear purpose in mind. This presentation argues that we cannot assume, if indeed we ever could, that robust research will automatically impact Corrections’ practice. Through a collection of short New Zealand case studies, this session reflects on what is required to ensure research contributes to system improvements and considers when research has had the most enduring impacts, and why. The paper concludes by outlining some of the current challenges associated with translating evidence into practice and describes how Corrections is responding to these challenges in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Presenter: Dr. Bronwyn Morrison has a Ph.D. in Criminology from Keele University, United Kingdom. She has worked in government research roles in New Zealand for the last 19 years, including roles in NZ Police, Department of Conservation, and the Ministry of Justice. She joined the Department of Corrections in 2015 and since 2019 has managed the Department’s Research Team. She has conducted research on indigenous pathways, prisoners’ post release experiences and desistance processes, family violence perpetrators, remand prisoners, female offending, youth incentives schemes, methamphetamine, cultural alcohol and drug interventions, correctional officer training, public perceptions of crime and criminal justice, and the fear of crime. She was the primary author of the 2009 New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey and Identifying and Responding to Bias in the Criminal Justice system (2009) and led the recent the New Zealand Justice Sector Long-Term Insights Briefing (2022), which explored how and why New Zealand’s prison population changed from 1960 to 2020. She also helped to run the Arohata Women’s Prison Book Club in a volunteer capacity until the removal of most sentenced women from the prison in 2022.


This webinar is complimentary for ICPA members. Please register through the link provided below. You will receive a confirmation email upon registration. Shortly before the event, you will receive the Zoom link via email.