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National Evaluation of On Track Phase Two Qualitative Research amongst Service Providers Strand

Lead organisations: National Centre for Social Research and the Policy Research Bureau


A consortium led by the Policy Research Bureau was commissioned to conduct the National Evaluation of Phase Two of On Track, a major initiative funded by the Derpartment for Education and Skills, as part of the Children's Fund, aimed at reducing youth crime. The other consortium members were the National Centre for Social Research and the Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science, University College London.

On Track, established in 24 areas across England and Wales, was originally devised by the Home Office in 1999 as a pilot or 'demonstration' programme as part of their wider Crime Reduction Programme (CRP). The aim of the CRP was to reduce crime by designing preventative and responsive measures based on researched and evidence-based initiatives that demonstrate 'what works' in crime prevention. The On Track model consisted of six types of intervention with families and young people aged 4-12 years old: home visiting, pre-school education; parent support and training; family therapy; and home-school partnerships; plus a sixth 'specialist' category. The aim was to target risk factors for youth crime, and boost protective factors. The first phase of the On Track evaluation was conducted by the University of Sheffield.

What did the research focus on?

A key aim of this strand was to explore service providers' experiences tell them about what has worked and what has not worked in relation to specific families using On Track services. The study also explored the barriers and enabling factors in achieving good medium and long term outcomes. This strand gave projects the opportunity to express their views of the On Track process.

A different and broader perspective was provided by exploring the views of professionals, in the statutory and non-statutory sectors, involved in youth justice and crime, education, social and health services. Views were gathered on the overall aims of On Track, its implementation at the local level and its effectiveness in meeting the needs of families in different circumstances.

What did the research involve?

Qualitative research was conducted among On Track service providers - both practitioners and managers - as well as key statutory sector stakeholders (for example, social services, health services and Youth Offending Teams). Data were collected by means of:

  • In-depth interviews with project managers and front-line staff
  • Focus groups with local stakeholder agencies

A sample of six of the 24 On Track areas were selected for inclusion in this strand. The criteria for the selection of the On Track areas included: types of intervention, different project delivery models; geography and other relevant initiatives in the area.

Timescale and final products of the research

This strand ran from 2004 to 2006. The final report was published in 2006.

See Publications for details

Last updated February 2008