Tuesday, April 01, 2008

CCJS report: Home Office suppress research that contradicts ministers

Whilst not using drugs policy as a specific example these latest essays from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies considering political distortions of the Home Office research and publication agenda will come as no surprise to anyone in the drugs field. well worth a look.

To see how this analysis plays out in drug policy see Transform briefings: submission to the drug strategy consultation and Drug policy 1997-2007 - The evidence un-spun (for starters)

On 31 March 2008 the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies published, 'Critical thinking about uses of research' (available here).

The monograph includes two essays, one written by Professor Tim Hope and the other by Professor Reece Walters. They put forward a thoughtful and challenging critique of the commissioning, production and dissemination of Home Office research.

Professor Reece Walters, argues:

'Home Office suppression of criminological research that contradicts ministerial policy and opinion is a feature of this arm of government. The Home Office remains silent on all those topics that have the potential to reflect poorly on government and is not an institution that represents the British public'.
Professor Walters calls for an academic boycott of any Home Office sponsored research.

In his essay, Professor Tim Hope, reflecting on his experience of working on Home Office research, argues that:

'having placed such a premium on evidence based policy the government has failed to live up to that promise and has resorted to fixing both the process and publication of Home Office research to meet the political needs of the time'.
Professor Hope is worried that officials and politicians can be tempted to be selective in their choice of the evidence used to illustrate success of programmes thus resulting in the exclusion of some data and the simplification or misrepresentation of others.


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