Therapy and offending behaviour programmes
Accredited offending behaviour programmes (OBPs) are now the main means by which psychologically-based interventions intended to reduce reoffending are delivered in prisons in England and Wales. In the financial year 2007-8 over 34,000 offenders completed OBPs. A large percentage of the psychological resources available to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is devoted to them. However, the accredited programme approach has been criticised on a number of counts (Mair 2004 and SCMH 2008). Although more individual psychological therapy is now being offered in prisons, through the introduction of prison mental health in-reach teams (MHIRTs), one of the main accusations against OBPs is that the predominance of structured offending behaviour programmes has led to all other aspects of individual therapy and counselling being devalued as a means of rehabilitation, in the eyes of both prison staff and prisoners. This chapter presents a brief history of OBPs and describes how the accredited OBPs gained pre-eminence, and why other psychotherapeutic approaches are now influencing the direction and development of structured programmes once more.