Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
1. Introduction and background
1.1 In September 2013, the Greater London Authority (GLA), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and MOPAC entered into a Co-operation and Funding Agreement for Project Oracle. This agreement was put in place to help improve the chances for children and young people in the capital by promoting robust evidence of what works. Project Oracle provides supporting services to improve the delivery of youth programmes and informing the funding process. At the heart of their model is the alignment of project evaluations with their Standards of Evidence.
1.2 Over the three year agreement MOPAC has provided Project Oracle with £300,000 out of their total £875,000 (also consisting of GLA and ESRC funding).
1.3 The current Co-operation and Funding Agreement is due to end on 31 July 2016 and so transition funding for a final 12 months until July 2017 is sought. Following this MOPAC funding will cease. This funding will be used to continue to increase evaluation knowledge and capacity across the youth and education sectors as well as specifically develop a Youth Criminal Justice Cohort focused on embedding the MOPAC Youth Outcomes Framework in the practice of 10-12 key youth criminal justice organisations.
2. Issues for consideration
2.1. As a project with the aim to raise standards of evaluation and break down barriers between the academic research establishment and hands on delivery and commissioning they have been successful. Project Oracle has successfully encouraged youth organisations to work with academic and evaluation experts to prove their impact.
2.2. This has been undertaken in a number of ways including training for providers, PhD student researchers working with projects, meta evaluation literature reviews and training for commissioners as well as work to bring funders and providers together. Real progress has been made to engage a wide range of youth providers into evaluation activity and this is beginning to have an impact across the capital. In the long term, this will strengthen the way in which we support young people and help them lead fulfilling lives. Project Oracle is currently undergoing an evaluation by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations; their report will be available in March 2016.
2.3. Over the last three years (to November 2015) Project Oracle has: validated 218 projects, trained 306 providers, facilitated 39 research placements, delivered 10 knowledge sharing events and trained 39 Evidence Champions. Over a quarter of the 218 validations are projects with crime outcomes, which is the second largest sector after education. The validations process provides incentives to provider organisations to improve the evidence base for their interventions, while at the same time providing reassurance to funders that the evidence that accompanies funding applications is of good quality.
2.4. As part of an additional £40,000 funding from MOPAC, Project Oracle has also developed a Youth Outcomes Framework and toolkit specifically for MOPAC as a resource for evaluation of criminal justice projects working with children and young people in London.
2.5. The GLA has committed to £125,000 funding for Project Oracle for a further 12 months (please see section 6 for further information) and a further £80,000 from MOPAC for 12 months is recommended. This will be last extension of funding to this contract by MOPAC (please see section 3.3 for further details).
2.6. The continuation of funding Project Oracle for a further and final 12 months will therefore build on the current focus through core funding to increase evaluation knowledge and capacity across the youth and education sectors. In addition this will specifically provide MOPAC with:
2.6.1. A joint communications plan across Project Oracle and MOPAC to continue raising awareness of the Outcomes Framework and its benefits, and ensure accessibility of the Framework to a wide range of organisations.
2.6.2. Continuing to host the Framework and toolkit on the Project Oracle website.
2.6.3. Ensuring a consistent Framework and adoption of this by partners through ownership of the content and development of the Framework; running periodic reviews; and developing and updating the Framework as relevant, including sector engagement where appropriate.
2.6.4. Driving take-up of the Outcomes Framework through a Youth Criminal Justice Cohort focused on embedding the Framework in the practice of 10-12 key youth criminal justice organisations, in order to start building a critical mass of organisations to provide a sector wide benchmark which sets the standard for others to follow.
3. Financial Comments
3.1. The total cost of the grant is £80,000, which is being funded through existing MOPAC budgets. This will cover the 12 month period August 2016 to July 2017, at which point MOPAC funding will cease.
3.2. In addition the GLA will be providing a further £125,000. Project Oracle is also seeking funding from other organisations and is developing a plan to diversify its future funding. Project Oracle has confirmed there will not be a shortfall in its future funding strategy and budget and so MOPAC will not continue to provide core funding to Project Oracle beyond July 2017.
3.3. Provision of this grant will be subject to the delivery of a future funding strategy and five-year plan by Project Oracle. Moreover, one of the conditions of this funding decision is that there are no ongoing commitments for MOPAC to continue funding Project Oracle. The future funding strategy and five-year plan will therefore also include an exit strategy for MOPAC funding.
4. Legal Comments
4.1. Section 143 (1) (b) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides an express power for MOPAC, as a local policing body, to provide or commission services “intended by the local policing body to help victims or witnesses of, or other persons affected by, offences and anti-social behaviour.” Section 143(3) allows MOPAC to make grants in connection with such arrangements and any grant may be made subject to any conditions that MOPAC thinks appropriate.
4.2. Under MOPAC’s Scheme of Delegation, approval of the strategy for the award of individual grants and the award of all individual grants (for crime reduction or other purposes) is a matter generally reserved to the DMPC (paragraph 4.8). The release of funding in accordance with the proposals set out in this decision form can accordingly be approved by DMPC. The delegation of responsibility for the finalisation of planning and contractual/grant arrangements, including relevant terms and the signing of agreements, to the Chief Operating Officer is in accordance with the general power of delegation in paragraph 1.7.
5. Equality Comments
5.1. MOPAC is required to comply with the public sector equality duty set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010. This requires MOPAC to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations by reference to people with protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
5.2. This funding will ensure that those working with Project Oracle are better equipped to deliver better outcomes for young people in London. The Outcomes Framework and toolkit will continue to take into account the diverse needs of those using it.