Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The impact of learning and sharing on the development of Social Impact Bonds

In this third blog of my 2017 series inspired by my advisory visit to Japan, I reflect on the importance of international learning and sharing for improving Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). While honoured to have been an expert advisor to colleagues in Japan over the past three years, helping the country take its first steps to develop SIBs; I have also benefitted hugely from the opportunity to learn from them and others.

Here I reflect on the impact of international learning and sharing on two specific areas, based on my Japanese experience.

Role of government

In a previous blog, I argued that governments have key roles to play in supporting the growth of SIBs (and social investment more widely). As I shared the UK lessons during the Social Impact Forum at Yokohama City, I also heard from Australian colleagues who put forward a similar view. What was notable was the fact the New South Wales Government in Australia has actually issued a social investment policy committing to two SIB transactions per year. While the UK Government has been hugely supportive of SIBs, the support has been enacted in different ways. We do not have a specific policy committing us to a specific number of SIBs per year. As Australian colleagues noted, this policy really focusses minds and has mobilised everyone to work together. The machinery of government has been aligned to support this, for example by building in evaluation; by developing policy reviews and analyses; by assessing the effectiveness of known interventions in priority policy areas, etc.

Japanese colleagues, reflecting on their (still very recent) experience, observed that while the Japanese government has made certain overtures indicating interest in SIBs, they have been far less proactive and engaged in stimulating growth, compared with Australia and the UK. It has been very challenging to engage with central government, leaving local governments and their non-profit organisation partners to try lobbying for change while attempting to make things happen on a very small scale.

This comparative approach enabled us to work closely with Japanese colleagues to share specific recommendations for engaging with central government, while also drawing in lessons from related developments and how these have successfully captured the imagine of governments, such as Climate Bonds.

The purpose of SIBs

Another area where the comparative approach surfaced important issues for scrutiny is the motivation behind SIBs. While much of the discourse in the UK, US and Australia is underpinned by a strong ‘savings’ narrative, Japan seems to be more minded to develop SIBs that are focussed squarely on improving wellbeing even when this may not lead to any discernible savings for the public purse.

In challenging the dominant discourse around SIBs, Japanese colleagues tapped into a creative seam of thinking around constructing SIBs on a very different foundation. We were able to share specific models of how this may be done, proceeding to advise Japanese colleagues about the implications for outcome metric selection and outcome modelling. At the same time, this re-focussing enabled us to build a stronger narrative and practice around more meaningful user-defined outcomes in the UK, counter-balancing the more dominant system-defined outcomes approach. I have certainly woven this into my work with Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group on their SIB to tackle alcohol dependency.

Conclusion

One of the downsides of working in the SIB field is that although we all assert that “things change very quickly”, we have yet to demonstrate willingness to share experiences, learning and data. Indeed, I have often encountered strong opposition towards sharing, under the guise of “commercial and/or political sensitivity”.

At the same time, we all call for transaction costs to be reduced as the current high costs make it difficult for SIBs to be sustainable. Surely one of the ways to bring down transaction costs is for better sharing of information and experiences so that others do not have to reinvent the wheel every time a new SIB is being developed. This glaring contradiction does not escape me and many others. It is time that we have the courage and humility to learn and share more widely.

Dr Chih Hoong Sin, Director, Innovation and Social Investment

Monday, April 24, 2017

Unleash the creative potential of Social Impact Bonds

In a previous blog based on my latest advisory trip to Japan, I noted that Japan is currently ‘translating’ the SIB model in order for it to be implemented in a way that is appropriate to its specific social, economic, political and cultural context. I have encouraged Japanese colleagues not to simply think that SIBs are and always will be what they currently look like. Instead, they should approach it creatively, making it work better for all. There is a risk that an innovation, such as SIBs, may be abandoned because of disillusionment with early versions of it, which may not have fulfilled the creative potential that may be on offer. Here, I describe four reasons why I think current SIBs have only scratched the surface of what may be possible.

Outcome payers

In the UK, we have become rather lazy with our terminology. I often hear people swap ‘commissioner’ for ‘outcome payer’. In doing so, there is a real risk that we limit the way we think about who outcome payers can or should be. Apart from public bodies, who else may be interested in paying for outcomes? What types of outcomes may they be interested in paying for?

If outcome payers are ever only going to be public sector commissioners, then we need to question whether SIBs are indeed channelling ‘new’ or ‘different’ funds. After all, if all outcome payments to investors are ultimately made by public sector commissioners, then the monies will only ever come from direct taxation.

Transaction costs

Read any publication or attend any conference on SIBs, and you will head the refrain: “SIBs have high transaction costs”. Again, rather than simply accept this as an immutable fact, I challenge the market to design these costs out of future SIBs. We have good evidence that this is possible, at least for some types of transaction costs. For example, we know that vested commercial interests can cause some intermediary organisations to develop SIBs that are unnecessarily complicated. Similarly our evaluation of the Essex County Council SIB found that when the various players are more concerned about minimising risks to themselves, they can end up with a contract that is too complicated and therefore imposes ongoing costs. As our experience in Essex shows, these can be designed out of a SIB even after it has gone ‘live’.

Who bears the risks?

An attraction of SIBs is that we introduce a new group of stakeholders called ‘social investors’ into the picture, who have higher risk appetites and are socially minded. However, the fact that 7 out of the 10 SIBs in the US have over half of their values guaranteed by philanthropic organisations really causes us to question who is really bearing the risk? Are we attracting the ‘right’ types of investors into the market or are we distorting the market to suit certain types of investors? In addition, there is also evidence that some social investors can try to pass on some of the risks to service providers, for example, by providing part of the capital as a loan rather than as revenue. We must therefore be clear about who bears what risks, and whether these models are true to the ideal of the SIB aspiration.

Is it all about savings?

In a blog I wrote last year, I argued that SIBs do not have to be about savings, and showed different ways of constructing alternatives. SIBs are about social outcomes. To reduce social outcomes to only those that generate financial savings for the public purse is highly limiting. This, again, draws attention to the limitations of thinking of ‘outcome payers’ only as ‘commissioners’. Even amongst commissioners, financial savings do not have to be the only motivator. We need to ask ourselves the question: “Outcomes for whom?” when we design SIBs. If we never ask service users what success looks or feels like to them, then what message are we sending out about SIBs? Whose interests do they serve?

Conclusion

Current SIBs have barely scratched the surface of what may be possible. Rather than allowing them to ossify into what they currently look like, we should challenge ourselves to keep pushing the creative potential of the idea of a SIB. In the process of doing so, we must never lose sight of outcomes and how they can be meaningfully defined.

Dr Chih Hoong Sin, Director, Innovation and Social Investment

Monday, April 24, 2017

Unleash the creative potential of Social Impact Bonds

In a previous blog based on my latest advisory trip to Japan, I noted that Japan is currently ‘translating’ the SIB model in order for it to be implemented in a way that is appropriate to its specific social, economic, political and cultural context. I have encouraged Japanese colleagues not to simply think that SIBs are and always will be what they currently look like. Instead, they should approach it creatively, making it work better for all. There is a risk that an innovation, such as SIBs, may be abandoned because of disillusionment with early versions of it, which may not have fulfilled the creative potential that may be on offer. Here, I describe four reasons why I think current SIBs have only scratched the surface of what may be possible.

Outcome payers

In the UK, we have become rather lazy with our terminology. I often hear people swap ‘commissioner’ for ‘outcome payer’. In doing so, there is a real risk that we limit the way we think about who outcome payers can or should be. Apart from public bodies, who else may be interested in paying for outcomes? What types of outcomes may they be interested in paying for?

If outcome payers are ever only going to be public sector commissioners, then we need to question whether SIBs are indeed channelling ‘new’ or ‘different’ funds. After all, if all outcome payments to investors are ultimately made by public sector commissioners, then the monies will only ever come from direct taxation.

Transaction costs

Read any publication or attend any conference on SIBs, and you will head the refrain: “SIBs have high transaction costs”. Again, rather than simply accept this as an immutable fact, I challenge the market to design these costs out of future SIBs. We have good evidence that this is possible, at least for some types of transaction costs. For example, we know that vested commercial interests can cause some intermediary organisations to develop SIBs that are unnecessarily complicated. Similarly our evaluation of the Essex County Council SIB found that when the various players are more concerned about minimising risks to themselves, they can end up with a contract that is too complicated and therefore imposes ongoing costs. As our experience in Essex shows, these can be designed out of a SIB even after it has gone ‘live’.

Who bears the risks?

An attraction of SIBs is that we introduce a new group of stakeholders called ‘social investors’ into the picture, who have higher risk appetites and are socially minded. However, the fact that 7 out of the 10 SIBs in the US have over half of their values guaranteed by philanthropic organisations really causes us to question who is really bearing the risk? Are we attracting the ‘right’ types of investors into the market or are we distorting the market to suit certain types of investors? In addition, there is also evidence that some social investors can try to pass on some of the risks to service providers, for example, by providing part of the capital as a loan rather than as revenue. We must therefore be clear about who bears what risks, and whether these models are true to the ideal of the SIB aspiration.

Is it all about savings?

In a blog I wrote last year, I argued that SIBs do not have to be about savings, and showed different ways of constructing alternatives. SIBs are about social outcomes. To reduce social outcomes to only those that generate financial savings for the public purse is highly limiting. This, again, draws attention to the limitations of thinking of ‘outcome payers’ only as ‘commissioners’. Even amongst commissioners, financial savings do not have to be the only motivator. We need to ask ourselves the question: “Outcomes for whom?” when we design SIBs. If we never ask service users what success looks or feels like to them, then what message are we sending out about SIBs? Whose interests do they serve?

Conclusion

Current SIBs have barely scratched the surface of what may be possible. Rather than allowing them to ossify into what they currently look like, we should challenge ourselves to keep pushing the creative potential of the idea of a SIB. In the process of doing so, we must never lose sight of outcomes and how they can be meaningfully defined.

Dr Chih Hoong Sin, Director, Innovation and Social Investment

Monday, August 15, 2016

Handle with care: a case study in using baseline and follow up surveys

The new orthodoxy

Baseline and follow up methodologies have become the new orthodoxy when assessing the impact of interventions on programme participants – particularly when evaluating programmes with children and young people. In a context where experimental approaches are rarely seen as workable or even ethical, collecting baseline and follow up data is increasingly the default option expected by funders and commissioners. They are also relatively cheap to deliver – which, in current times – is appealing.

The evaluator will typically convert a programme’s anticipated outcomes into a set of indicators, use these to form the basis of a survey, and then invite participants to complete the survey at the start and end of the programme. They then hope for the best, based on an assumption that the programme will see a positive shift against the indicators over the course of the intervention.

However, when the results come back there are not always neat improvements in the follow-up. This is where disappointment and panic can set in. A surface level analysis of the data might suggest that the programme has had no – or indeed had a negative – impact on participants. This is not good for busy practitioners who are juggling delivery with the pressure of proving the impact of their work, particularly when they rely on good outcomes for future funding!

Drawing on our recent experience of evaluating a range of complex social interventions, while baseline and follow-up approaches are not necessarily the wrong tool for the job the results need to be carefully interpreted and contextualised and – where possible – cross-checked against other strands of evidence. Only then can you begin to draw out some sensible conclusions about the impact that might have been achieved.

A case study: evaluating Body & Soul Beyond Boundaries programme

We recently conducted an impact evaluation of Beyond Boundaries, an innovative peer mentoring programme for HIV charity Body & Soul. This used a baseline and follow up survey against key indicators. When the results came in there was a positive progression against the majority of the indicators. Young people who had been on the programme were more likely to communicate openly and honestly about their health and their HIV status by the end of the programme. However respondents responded less positively to some wellbeing indicators around self-respect and general state of happiness.

It would have been easy to assume that the programme had had little impact on these areas of wellbeing. However, further scrutinising of the different strands of data allowed us to develop an alternative analysis.

1) Beyond Boundaries did not operate in isolation from other factors that influenced participants’ lives. Programme staff emphasised that the particular cohort they are working with led very chaotic lives and tend to experience a myriad of socioeconomic issues. Here it could be reasonably argued that their participation in the programme may have been helping them to maintain a certain level of wellbeing, and possibly even prevented a more severe decline against these indicators.

2) As a consequence of receiving support and building trust with the service, there are examples where participants increased their emotional literacy and become more willing and able to answer openly and honestly about how they feel. This could explain how they became more able to appraise their personal sense of wellbeing in a more critical way. This finding is consistent with wider evidence that suggests that young people in particular are likely to overstate their levels of wellbeing at baseline and then provide more open and critical score in the follow up.

A further challenge was that, for a whole host of reasons, there was a high rate of attrition between participants completing the baseline and the follow up. This meant that the survey data in isolation did not produce a robust understanding of the impact of the programme. However, when this data was taken in combination with other strands of the evaluation it was possible to make stronger claims about the impact. Triangulating the findings from the baseline and follow up survey with case study and focus group data also allowed us to better understand participant’s journeys and to explore the impact of the programme on the most vulnerable and hard to reach participants, who are often the least willing to take part in evaluation activities.

Focus on why and how, not before and after

Collecting detailed qualitative feedback from programme staff and participants helped us to explore those crucial “why?” and the “how?” questions which helped to shed light on the pathways to outcomes. This was crucial when exploring the impact of a complex service used by participants who have equally complex lives.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Our work with children and young people is informing best practice

We are delighted that our evaluation of the vInspired 24/24 programme has been included in the systematic review of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) Social and Emotional Learning Programme Assessment, contributing to the evidence base of best practice in this area.

The EIF has been funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to undertake a programme of work to understand what works in developing the relational, social and emotional capabilities and assets of children and families either in or at risk of poverty.  This work builds upon and extends an existing review carried out by EIF in 2015: ‘Social and Emotional Learning: Skills for life and work’

The 24/24 programme, managed by vInspired and funded by the Department of Education (DfE) and the Jack Petchey Foundation, was a structured volunteering and social action intervention programme, designed to help young people facing challenging circumstances to improve their life choices. The evaluation was designed to measure the progress of individuals during the programme and evidence the impact of the programme on young peoples’ outcomes and against key performance indicators. It also identified the critical success factors and limitations of the delivery model and made recommendations for future delivery.

The evaluation report can be accessed here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

End of life care – something needs to change

As the population ages, the question of how we as a society care for people at the end of their lives is becoming ever more pressing. It is widely recognised that current systems for providing care for people at the end of life are not up to scratch. Only 7% of the population want to die in a hospital, with 66% saying they would prefer to die at home; yet in 2010 about 60% of deaths were in hospitals.[1] This is putting a huge strain on individuals and their loved ones, as well as on the healthcare system.

What is preventing people from dying in their own homes if that is their choice? One major factor can be the lack of social care support for everyday needs such as washing, feeding, and emotional support. Social care currently falls within the remit of local authorities and is subject to means testing – which means that many people at the end of their lives are required to pay if they want to have their social care needs met at home. Social care support can, however, also be obtained for free through the NHS Continuing Healthcare route. But this system is widely regarded as too difficult and slow to access. When it comes to providing care for the dying, we only have one chance to get it right – but too often we do not.

The calls to correct this situation have become louder in recent years, with a number of reports and reviews, such as the 2010 Dilnot Commission[2] and the 2011 Palliative Care Funding Review,[3] urging for change. It is in this context that a coalition of six charities has come together to campaign for universal, free social care at the end of life, to enable people to die in the place of their choosing. The coalition brings together Macmillan Cancer Support, Help the Hospices, the National Council for Palliative Care, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Sue Ryder and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Our research

As part of their campaign the coalition commissioned OPM to conduct research on how free social care at the end of life could work in practice. Earlier this month OPM’s Dr Chih Hoong Sin presented our research at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hospice and Palliative Care, highlighting key findings from our recently published report, ‘How could free social care at end of life work in practice’.

We looked at a number of existing models of end of life care where social care is free, to learn what was effective about these and how they might be replicated elsewhere. We reviewed existing literature, examined 12 different services including two in-depth case studies, and spoke to a number of practitioners, to try to work out how free social care at end of life can work in practice.

We found that a range of different localities and services are working to make free social care at the end of life a reality. However, this provision is by no means consistent nor universally available. Our key recommendations for how to change this so that everyone has access to free end of life care were:

There was consensus at the APPG event on 2nd July that the case for free social care at end of life has been definitively made; as Imelda Redmond from Marie Curie put it, “the moral argument has been won.” It is now a case of thinking about how, which our research set out to do. A key remaining question is where funding for free social care at end of life can be found; a significant step has been made in a recent Macmillan report which suggests that the NHS could actually save money by supporting people to die in their own homes rather than in expensive hospital beds.

In the end of life care arena there is much action afoot – with changes in the Care Act, and the Palliative Care Funding Review pilots. But more still needs to happen. And it won’t be a moment too soon, in the face of our ageing society, ongoing patchy provision, and the real challenges of soon ‘unsustainable’ local authority care budgets highlighted in this month’s ADASS report.

These challenges are pressing, and we urgently need a better system for care at the end of life. The campaign for free social care at end of life is thus bound to gather momentum in the months ahead. And, with all three of the main parties expressing support for this policy, can we hope that it will soon be a matter of when, and not how, free social care at end of life will become a reality for everyone?

[1]Leadbeater, C. and Garber, J. (2010). Dying for Change. Demos. p.20.
[2] Dilnot,  A. (2011). ‘Findings of the Commission on Funding of Care and Support’. Slideshow. The King’s Fund website.
[3] Hughes-Hallett T, Craft A, Davies D (2011). Funding the right care and support for everyone. Report of the Independent Palliative Care Funding Review. London: Department of Health.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Research into young Londoners’ experiences and perceptions of stop and search

Background

Stop and search is a part of day to day life for many young people in London who hold very strong views on stop and search and on the police. Undoubtedly the use of stop and search powers is a major contributor to negative attitudes held by young people towards the police and is seen as part of the cause for the riots in August 2011. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) introduced a new approach to stop and search and the London Assembly wanted to assess whether young people had noticed any changes to the use of the power since its implementation. The London Assembly Police and Crime Committee therefore commissioned OPM to undertake independent research into young Londoners’ experience and perceptions of stop and search in September 2013 as part of a wider investigation into changes to the MPS’s use of stop and search powers.

What we did

The research comprised of five focus groups with 36 young people in five areas of London, to seek their views on police use of stop and search. We worked with youth organisations to set up and run these focus groups that took place in Hackney, Waltham Forest, Hammersmith, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. The majority of participants were male, aged 16-20 and of black or Asian ethnic background, due to this demographic being the most likely to be stopped and searched, There was a broad mix of backgrounds, including ex-youth offenders, ex-gang members, students, community volunteers and NEETs (those not in education, employment or training). To inform the design of the materials for the focus groups, we held a workshop with members of the GLA’s peer outreach team, a group of young people aged 15-25 who engage with and gather the opinions of young Londoners to inform the work of the GLA.

The five key research questions which this work sought to address were:

Impact

The report aimed to inform the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee of OPM findings  regarding young people’s views on police use of stop and search and provide recommendations on possible improvements and developments that could be made to the stop and search approach. Key findings and recommendations included:

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Removing barriers, raising disabled people’s living standards

This report contains the findings from a research programme aimed at understanding disabled people’s priorities for change. The research was commissioned by the disability charity Scope, and conducted by OPM (focus groups and qualitative interviews) and Ipsos MORI (national survey).

This research contributes to the evidence base and to the case for action to work with disabled people to improve living standards.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Social media’s flaws are old friends to researchers

Social media is one of the biggest phenomena of the past few years, changing the ways in which we communicate and generate knowledge. These technologies have vast potential as additional tools for deliberative public dialogue and social research, but they are extremely new and some researchers are hesitant due to concerns about their validity and reliability. Are these concerns well founded, or are the problems that social media present really very similar to those found with other research methods?

This was an argument put forward by Caroline Turley and Carol McNaughton Nicholls from NatCen Social Research at a seminar run by the Social Research Association (SRA) on 27th February. Caroline and Carol were presenting an overview of the new edition of ‘Qualitative Research Practice’, outlining the areas that have changed most significantly in the 10 years since the first edition was published.

The evolution of the internet and in particular the arrival of social media is, of course, one of the defining changes of the last decade, so one of the topics discussed at the seminar was the way in which qualitative social research has engaged with this technology. Caroline and Carol noted the concerns relating to validity and reliability, but argued that we have a tendency to over-think the impact of the internet, when in fact it could be seen as an extension to the variety of communication tools available to us, and one which carries the kinds of limitations and risks we are already familiar with. So, what are some of the common concerns raised about using social media, how are these similar to the challenges posed by other research tools and how does this experience help us to find ways to overcome social media’s challenges?

The way in which we represent ourselves as individuals has been affected by social media, and this can be a cause for concern in qualitative research. But people represent themselves differently in all other situations too, and the influence of power dynamics between researchers and participants is well documented, so this isn’t really a novel challenge for researchers.

Communicating via social media channels often involves a mixture of media types, including photographs, video, and text, so researchers have decisions to make about what data to analyse and how to do so. But in any research project we have to identify and rationalise our data and methodology choices, so this isn’t a new problem either, and social media presents interesting ways in which we can combine different types of analysis.

The ‘digital divide’ is another subject that often comes up in discussions about using the internet as a tool for research and engagement. But the need to address and consider accessibility and participation is relevant for any research method we might choose, so this is simply a variation of this issue.

Practical issues, like obtaining written consent from participants, can also present challenges in an online environment, but these kinds of problems also arise in other forms of interaction such as telephone interviews. The seminar group discussed how we need to develop more flexible ethical consent processes that adapt to the research method, rather than allowing these processes to limit the research. Indeed, one of the valuable things about qualitative, as opposed to quantitative, research is the ability to respond flexibly to use the right method for each particular subject area and for each individual participant.

Social media is certainly not an online silver bullet able to unlock untapped sources of evidence with one click, and its potential to connect researchers with participants will vary depending on the project and subject area. However, it is obvious that social media has an important role to play in social research, and this role is destined to become more important as technologies become more widely adopted. But although social media is a relatively new technology, researchers should avoid getting too preoccupied with the perceived novelty of the challenges it presents, and should use the same caution and expertise they would with any other research tool. Indeed, no matter what medium or method we use, as qualitative research practitioners we all have a responsibility to maintain an ethical conscience, to carry out good quality research, and to be reflective about the strengths and limitations of our work. By extending this approach to social media it can be incorporated as a research tool among all the others at our disposal, and best practice in this area will develop through its increased use and shared reflection and learning.

 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tackling hate crime against people with learning disabilities

Background

Mencap were planning to launch a three year Stand by Me campaign the aim of which in the first year was to encourage the police to do more to tackle hate crimes against people with learning disabilities. Mencap were keen to take an evidence based approach to campaigning and whereas they felt they had some knowledge of the issues that make tackling hate crime difficult, they knew further research was needed in order for the campaign to be received positively by the public and the police. They felt that having an independent organisation such as OPM conduct the research would lend their campaign greater credibility.

Mencap were initially keen to work specifically with us on this project because they had been impressed by our work on disabled people’s experiences of targeted violence and hostility for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which helped trigger a Formal Inquiry.

What we did

Mencap initially wanted to run a large scale survey with all police services. However, we felt that given their aims and objectives a smaller, more in-depth qualitative study with a sample of police services would be more suitable and a better use of their resources, and they were happy to follow our lead. We therefore conducted research with 14 police services across England.

We reviewed key documents from each police service, including hate crime strategies and procedures for reporting and recording hate crime. We also conducted in-depth interviews with representatives from each police service which asked them to reflect on the incidence of hate crime against disabled people, the services’ structural and organisational set-up for tackling disability hate crime and implementation and delivery ‘on the ground’.

We also conducted one focus group with people with a learning disability where participants reflected on their personal experiences of reporting hate crime and key expectations in terms of how victims should be treated and hate crime tackled. Mencap were very happy with the report we produced, in particular the rich and varied evidence that had been captured from a small sample. We also helped disseminate the research by writing a series of blogs during Learning Disability week and an article for Learning Disability Today.

Impact

Mencap used the final output from the research to launch the Stand by Me campaign which resulted in 22 out of 43 police services in England and Wales ‘signing up’ to the changes suggested, which for Mencap was a resounding success. Many others are also in the process of signing up.  They also received good feedback from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) about the balanced evidence presented in the report and this has led to an ongoing relationship and further conversations about how police services can improve their practice.

The research has also raised Mencap’s profile in the sector and has given them the evidence base they needed to play a role in influencing change. For example, they are now part of an advisory group for the Metropolitan Police and are in discussions with the EHRC about how they can better support their work.