WHAT WORKS

‘What Works’ is a generic term used by the National Probation Service to demonstrate that an intervention has been evidenced to be effective.

In 1998, certain interventions (such as Think First, ASRO and DIDs) were accredited as a method of demonstrating their effectiveness in reducing offending.  Participation of the ‘What Works’ programmes has been shown to cut re-offending by a third.

‘What Works’ is based on the following principles:

  • Risk - the risk of re-offending and the risk of serious harm is assessed to determine the amount of intervention required in each case.
  •  Needs - intervention is targeted to address the factors (both personal and social) which may lead to re-offending.
  • Responsivity - determining what method of intervention will be of most benefit based on the offender’s gender, culture and learning styles.

The programmes that an offender has to attend are determined by these principles. 

The Court can sentence an offender to participate in a ‘What Works’ programme as part of a Community Order rather than imposing a custodial sentence.


Why do people continue to commit crimes?
Research shows that the main causes are: weak problem solving skills, poor decision making skills, weak personal control and poor social skills.
For example:

  • People do not recognise or anticipate problems. They may fail to consider other forms of action in dealing with problems.

  • People are not able to resist pressure to offend again from other people.

  • People may act impulsively. They have poor self-control & may be prone to aggression, violence and hostility. This may repeatedly get them into trouble.

  • People may not understand or appreciate the harm they are doing to other people. This includes the victims of their crimes and their own families & friends.

How will these programmes make a difference?

  • By tackling the way people think, which has been shown to directly affect the way they behave.

  • By assisting people to think more logically about their lives and how they make moral decisions.

  • By tackling people's weak personal control and poor social skills.

  • By using role-play and other exercises to challenge people's learned anti-social behaviour. This is proven to help people change the way they think, which affects how they behave.

  • By teaching self-management skills to bring about positive changes in thoughts, attitudes and behaviour.

  • By teaching people to appreciate the views of others.

  • Research shows that some people are likely to respond to having their thoughts, behaviour and attitudes challenged in a group setting.

  • Research also shows that people are likely to respond to structured group work that involves action, participation, skills learning and discussion.







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The Programmes outlined below are run in a variety of different areas, and therefore the information contained therein is a general guide for all those made the subject of an accredited programme. Click on the links below to review each programme in more detail....

Think First


Drink Impaired Drivers Programme (DID's)


Addressing Substance Related Offending (ASRO)


Aggression Replacement Training


Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP)


Offender Substance Abuse Programme (OSAP)


Thames Valley Sex Offender Groupwork Programme (TVSOP)

Northumbria Sex Offender Group Programme (NSOGP)


Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS)


Controlling Anger and learning to Manage it (CALM)


One to One programme


Internet Sex Offender Treatment programme- i-sotp



  • The evidence base which underpins accredited programmes can be read in more detail in the following essay.....

Accessing and Understanding Accredited programmes.


  • You can also access further information form the Probation Services' official website at....






As programmes are developed they are assessed against What Works principles and thoroughly researched. This means that programmes delivered by the Probation Service currently are at various stages of development. These include;
ACCREDITED – Programmes deemed to comply wholly with What Works principles and whose effectiveness has been thoroughly tested through research
RECOGNISED – Programmes nearly ready for accreditation but requiring further research or small adjustments before they can be deemed accredited
PATHFINDER – Programmes that have been developed but are in the process of being tested and evaluated
LEGACY – This means that this is a programme that has not been through the accreditation process.