Enabling features of Psychologically Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs): Ministry of Justice Research Report (2013), produced by NatCen Social Research

New research ‘Enabling features of Psychologically Informed Planned Environments‘ (MOJ report produced by NatCen Social Research), was commissioned to support the development and refinement of the PIPE model through the field test stage.

Key findings

The research suggested that the key elements of the PIPE model are:

  • Providing formal mechanisms of support for offenders through regular personal officer/key worker sessions to discuss offenders’ experiences within the PIPE, reflecting on positive and negative behaviour and discussion of their personal goals for the future.
  • Establishing and maintaining safe and supportive relationships between staff and offenders, such as opportunities to talk informally and respectful day to day interaction.
  • Taking a collaborative approach to management and organisation, including encouraging offenders to plan and organise activities and work through problems by themselves

Whilst the research did not evaluate the effectiveness of the PIPEs, staff and offenders gave their views about emerging and possible impacts

  • PIPEs facilitate improved relationships between staff and offenders, with some staff highlighting a reduction in bullying.
  • Staff reported that working on a PIPE had given them more skills in interacting with offenders, and a deeper understanding of why people with PD behave in the way they do

Some offenders reported that they felt more equipped to deal with their impulsive behaviours and would use strategies to manage more challenging interactions.

Lessons learned from the field test

  • Inconsistent approaches by staff can undermine helpful interaction with offenders; and here PIPE Clinical Leads play a key role in supporting and developing staff
  • Communication about PIPEs needs to filter through all levels of operation so that there is appropriate strategic leadership within establishments
  • Having non-PIPE prisoners (‘lodgers’) on units can undermine the potential impact of the prison PIPE

How will the findings be used?

A number of lessons from the research have been incorporated into the development of the revised PIPE Model Specification and the delivery plan for further roll-out. This includes:

  • Further clarity from NHS/NOMS on where local flexibility in implementation is acceptable
  • Addressing the issue of ‘lodgers’ in PIPE services, so that all those who reside in a PIPE meet the requirements of the PIPEs specification
  • An emphasis and guidance on consistency in approaches by staff working in the PIPE
  • Ensuring there is organisational commitment from across the prison establishment and/or probation organisation to help ensure the PIPE is supported at all levels of operation and that there is appropriate strategic leadership

Research method

Qualitative research was undertaken in three PIPE case study sites between February and June 2012: a wing in a male prison, an approved premises and a female prison wing.

Fieldwork took place over three days and involved interviews and group discussions with strategic and operational staff, depth interviews with residents and prisoners, and video observations of key PIPE activities.

The research employed a qualitative observational approach to identify the key enabling features of the PIPE, as observed by staff, offenders, and objective observers.

A workshop was then held and attended by NOMS and NHS stakeholders and representatives from the seven pilot sites.