Trialling letters to offenders to influence criminal behaviour

Trialling letters to offenders to
influence criminal behaviour
Bringing the message home to offenders
1. Purpose of this guide
2. The Spreadsheet
3. The Letters
4. Post-Letter Sending Activity
5. What happens after the data is collected?
6. The Nudge Process Chart
7. Your Nudge Checklist
1. Purpose of this Guide
The Nudge trial which your borough is
taking part in has been designed to test
whether letters to offenders have an
impact upon crime, and to explore the
most impactful style of letter.
There are four different letter conditions
that will be tested;
No letter sent at all.
Three different letter conditions. Each
variation will build upon the previous,
becoming more personalised.
The letter sending phase of this trial will
run for approximately 6 months subject to
review. Your main tasks will be distributing
letters, along with updating a spreadsheet
and taking support calls from participating
Image: Google,
Contact us:
Analysts in Corporate Development,
Evidence & Performance will be
monitoring the nominals at 3, 6, and 12
month intervals to see if there are any
reconviction rates. We will keep your
borough updated on our progress.
Dan Shalom:
[email protected]
Tel: 0207 161 0631
Sophie Geoghegan:
[email protected]
We thank you in advance for your help.
Te: 0207 161 2107
This type of test on gang members and
Integrated Offender Management (IOM)
nominals has not been done before and
we need your help to make it work...
If you need any information or
advice please call or email.
1.1 Your key role
Your key role in Nudge will be the essential day to
day running of the process. This will involve:
1) Recording nominal details on a spreadsheet
2) Sending the Nudge letters
3) Taking phone calls from nominals who respond to
the support number
This guide will help you ensure that:
- The Nudge trial spreadsheet is accurate and up to date.
- Correct letters are sent to nominals involved in the
Nudge trial.
- Phone calls received from the support number are dealt
with and updated on the spreadsheet.
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Please turn over for a
case study on the
Cabinet Office Nudge
Behavioural Insight
Team, and understand
how they have been
using research to
identify ‘what works’.
CASE STUDY: ‘Nudge’ Behavioural Insights Team
For more information visit
The ‘Nudge’ Behavioural Insights Team
‘Nudge’, applies insights from academic
research in behavioural economics and
psychology to public policy and services.
Its objective is to transform how the
government thinks about behavioural
aspects of public policy, making it easier
for citizens to make better choices for
What do they do?
Below are 2 examples of their
recent projects, showing how
evidence can be used to find
effective solutions to a variety of
EXAMPLE 1) Testing whether or not sending text
messages to people who had failed to pay their
court fines would encourage them to pay prior to a
bailiff being sent to their homes. With 5 groups,
some were sent no text messages, while others
were sent either a standard reminder text or a more
personalised message. The trial showed that text
message prompts can be highly effective. The
Courts Service estimates that sending personalised
text reminders could reduce the need for up to
150,000 bailiff interventions annually, whilst being
cost effective.
Could a more personalised approach
with victims, offenders, and the
wider community help foster
support and yield better results?
Text Text
Text +
Text +
% Response rate from text messages
Text +
Name +
EXAMPLE 2) GreeNudge’s latest study on food waste
conducted randomised controlled trials in hotel restaurants
with food buffets. They found that reducing plate size and
communicating that it’s ok to come back for another
serving resulted in a decrease in food waste whilst hotel
guest satisfaction remained the same. Reducing the plate
size reduced food waste by 19.5%. Introducing a sign
pointing out that guests can help themselves more than
once reduced food waste by 20.5%.
How could this be
applied to policing?
Why does it matter?
The ‘nudge’ concept is important to consider as it can help us to be more effective in our work.
Contact [email protected] to learn how the MPS is using scientific methods to understand
‘what works’.
2. The Spreadsheet
Two Spreadsheets
You will have received an Excel file named GANGS AND
IOM NUDGE SPREADSHEET containing two worksheet
tabs entitled GANGS and IOM. The only difference
between the two worksheets is the addition of a ‘gang
name’ column.
We will need you to record the nominal details, when you
sent the letter and any contact made by the nominal after
the letter was sent.
When you fill in the surname of a nominal a
letter condition will automatically appear in
the Letter Condition Description column
(column J in the GANGS worksheet/ column
I in the IOM worksheet).
Random allocation
Spreadsheet fields
Enter surname and first name.
Date of Birth - enter in DD/MM/YYYY
PNC No. - enter in format ‘13/123456B’.
Gang Name - please enter the gang name if
Date letter Sent - the date the letter was
placed in external mail to be despatched.
Date became new Gang /IOM nominal date decision was made.
The post-letter sending data columns will be
explained in section 4.
The letter received is generated at
random. This can sometimes result
in the same letter being generated
several times in a row, which is
nothing to worry about.
2.1 Quality assurance
When you have saved your spreadsheet, please give us access so we
can see how Nudge is going and help if required.
2.2 How do I give ‘read-only’ access?
Right click on your spreadsheet’s Excel
When the options pane pops up, select
Select the ‘Security’ tab
Under ‘Groups or User names’ click ‘Add’
Type in the surname of the person you
want to add in the ‘Enter object names to
select’ box
Select the staff account result you want
from the results list.
Tick ’Full Control’ under the ‘Permissions
for’ heading.
Please add Dan Shalom and Sophie Geoghegan from
Corporate Development to your access permissions.
3. The Letters
The letters are the focal point of this trial. The questions we want
to answer are ‘do they reduce offending behaviour’ and if so,
‘which kind work best’?
Our letters have been quality assessed by the Cabinet Office and will test
themes of enforcement, personalisation, and offers of support.
Nominals will be randomly allocated to a receive a letter.
The letter sending phase will run for approximately 6 months.
The Letter Conditions
1. No Letter Sent - this group will be used as a baseline to
measure the other letters against.
2. Local borough resident letter - a generic warning against
criminal behaviour. The nominal is not referred to by name.
3. Personalised letter - a warning with the nominal
addressed by name and as ‘you’.
4. Personalised letter with a support number - the ‘carrot
and stick’, personalised with the warning but with the
addition of a support number offering help to leave their
criminal lifestyle.
You will have received one set of letter
templates for gang members and another for
IOM nominals.
3. The Letters - continued...
Check you have adjusted the letter template
where necessary: date, address and name of
the nominal.
Ensure your Borough Commander’s
signature is on the letter
4. Post-Letter Sending Activity
4.1 Answering the Nudge support telephone number
Ideally, if you are responsible for answering the support phone-line calls you should
also be administering the Nudge spreadsheet and sending the Nudge letters.
You should be well acquainted with the issues faced by potential callers who are
involved in gangs/prolific offending lifestyles.
You will need to have contact details of support the callers may want, such as local
authority and third party support contacts. How you deal with each caller will be
based on your own judgment and the needs of the caller.
Specialist Knowledge
4.2 Updating the spreadsheet after a phone call
Details of support calls received need to be recorded
for assessing the impact of Nudge..
There are five fields to complete in the ‘Postletting sending data entry’ section of the
Date of contact from
A drop-down list of themes
including help with housing,
addiction or parenting.
A drop-down list of methods
in case they contact you in
some other way.
Free-text for you to describe
support given, such as
advice, enquiries on their
behalf, any planned follow-up
contact .
A drop-down list of “Yes”,
“No” or “Unknown”.
Please only use the “Other” dropdown list options as a last resort
5. What happens when all the data is collected?
After the letter sending phase your nominals will be combined with those
from other boroughs to form a sample large enough for us to assess the
impact of the trial.
We will compare condition groups to see if sending a letter has had an
impact, and if there are differences in behaviour influenced by the type of
letter received.
This will include monitoring over a period at 3, 6, and 12 months.
Our measures will be arrest rates, severity and frequency of offending. We
will also monitor the number of calls made to your support number, to see
if the letters prompt nominals to try to exit a criminal lifestyle.
6. The Nudge Process Chart
Pre- rollout preparation
Nudge started on agreed date
New nominal comes in and is
assigned a condition by the
(see page 5)
Condition 2, 3 or 4
assigned by randomiser
(see page 7)
Condition 1 - No letter
(see page 7)
Spreadsheet Administration
(see page 5)
Letter Sending - Conditions
2, 3, 4 prepared and sent
(see page 8)
Post- letter sending & taking
support calls
(see page 9)
Corporate Development quality
check administration and data
recording (see page 6)
Corporate Development collects viable
volume for analysis of Nudge and Borough
SPOCS receive notification to cease letter
Learning & improvement loop
Before commencing the rollout of Nudge
I have white envelopes (110mm x 220mm preferred - that’s the size you get when you fold
an A4 sheet of paper into thirds).
I have enough first class stamps.
I have the spreadsheet saved and have given read-only access to my contacts in
Corporate Development.
I have an electronic copy of the letter condition templates - they have my Borough
Commander’s scanned signature and correct details on them.
The phone for the support number is staffed, and appropriate cover is arranged to account
for annual leave, sick days and other abstractions from duty.
When administering a new nominal
Only send one letter per nominal, even if they come off and are re-entered onto the matrix.
It is the impact of the first letter we are measuring.
Enter the nominal’s details on the spreadsheet as per section 2 in the Nudge
Administration Guide, making sure the correct worksheet is used - (Gangs or IOM).
After the randomizer has selected a condition open a copy of the corresponding letter
template. Fill in the correct date, nominal name, and address in the appropriate sections.
Print out a colour copy of the letter and put it in the stamped envelope, hand writing the
address on it.
On the spreadsheet fill in the date letter sent field.