Supporting People After Remand or Conviction (SPARC): An Innovation in Pre-Custody Care

Smith, Lauren R. (2020) Supporting People After Remand or Conviction (SPARC): An Innovation in Pre-Custody Care. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

Supporting People After Remand or Conviction (SPARC): An Innovation in Pre-Custody Care
Smith, Lauren - PhD - Psychology.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


It is widely publicised that the journey through the Criminal Justice System is turbulent for many, characterised by family breakdown, poor health, increased risk of suicide and self-harm, and poor outcomes across a range of psychosocial factors including reoffending. Prisons have an opportunity to change the life course of large numbers of people, either for the better or for worse. In the UK, The Bradley Report (2009) presented an extensive plan to reduce reoffending and improve public health, by ending the ‘revolving door’ to custody for people in the CJS with mental health issues and learning disabilities. Part of the plan was to improve screening and the provision of support for prisoners entering custody to ensure the right services are available. The Supporting People After Remand or Conviction (SPARC) project was set up to meet these recommendations. Initially developed and implemented in Lincolnshire, UK, SPARC provides support to people sentenced or remanded by the courts, in their transition into prison custody. It operates as a service fully integrated into the court and prison delivery settings. SPARC aims to assist those coming into prison to achieve the basic stages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need and to ensure the treatment of people with decency, kindness and fairness. SPARC supports the basic needs of men and women during their transition into and early days in prison custody on the basis that this provides them with a better opportunity to engage in their prison sentences, address their offending behaviour, and successfully reintegrate into the community and lead law-abiding lives.

To describe the SPARC model of intervention, provide an overview of the first two years of population data, and provide evidence of the positive impact of supporting men transitioning into prison custody from court. Methods: Data from 1,093 SPARC Keep Safe Interviews were collected from 1st December 2013 to 30th November 2015 to provide information about the needs and characteristics of people entering custody from court. In a second phase, 289 surveys were completed by individuals during their prison sentence which included the Clinical Outcomes Routine Evaluation (CORE) to assess mental health and wellbeing. Participants who received the SPARC intervention were compared with those who had not. Finally, focus groups were completed with 11 men in prison who had been supported by the SPARC service. The model was evaluated using a mixed methods design.

Results indicated that people entering prison custody from court have a diverse level of need across learning, language, physical health, mental health, and substance use and that much of this demonstrates an over-representation when compared with the general population. Men who had received the SPARC intervention displayed significantly higher levels of wellbeing as indicated by the CORE, than those who had not received the intervention. The focus groups indicated that the transition into prison custody was traumatic and turbulent, but that SPARC had both an immediate and long-term positive impact.

The SPARC service is an effective and sustainable way in which the specific needs of prisoners entering prison custody are assessed and addressed. The intervention lends itself to better engagement in sentence plans, improved functioning in prison, improved opportunity to address offending behaviour, and subsequent improved reintegration into the community. The model is in line with Nelson Mandela Rules and more recent prison approaches including rehabilitative culture, families as a ‘Golden Thread’ for rehabilitation, and health-promoting prisons.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:44810
Deposited On:05 May 2021 13:39

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