Rehabilitating Scotland: Exploring the impact of mentoring-based throughcare

In recent years, a pressing issue for both the UK and Scottish Governments has been the steadily increasing prison population and, in particular, the rise in the male prison population.

In Scotland, whilst there are a number of factors that play into high prison populations, one of the reasons is the relatively high reoffending rate. In 2019 28.3% of individuals sentenced were reconvicted within a year of their original sentence. This rate has been relatively flat since the late 1990s. There is, therefore, strong interest in understanding the extent to which the right support and interventions, including adequate throughcare upon release from prison, can break a cycle of reoffending.

The main aim of the New Routes programme is to reduce reoffending in Scotland by supporting individuals to reintegrate into their communities beyond their prison sentence and build a sustainable future through inclusion in society. The scheme provides mentoring and support six months pre-release and post-release from prison.

The mentoring service is provided in two parts:

  • The first part supports motivation and change in attitudes and behaviours. Individuals are supported to identify their needs and create a personal release plan.
  • The second part addresses the barriers the individual seeks to overcome in order to re-integrate into the community. Services are tailored to individual needs and can include, for example, helping an individual to secure accommodation, enrol with a GP, gain employment, set up bank accounts and access addiction services.

This report is the first stage of a four-year project that will evaluate the effectiveness of New Routes on reoffending and other outcomes for ex-prisoners. This first report looks at the data collected by the Wise Group since 2013 on self-assessed outcomes of individuals who partake in the programme. Future stages will use data to look at other outcomes that can be externally measured to provide a robust evaluation of the impact of the programme.


Ben is an economist at the Fraser of Allander Institute working across a number of projects areas. He has a Masters in Economics from the University of Edinburgh, and a degree in Economics from the University of Strathclyde.

His main areas of focus are economic policy, social care and criminal justice in Scotland. Ben also co-edits the quarter Economic Commentary and has experience in business survey design and dissemination.

Emma Congreve is a Principal Knowledge Exchange Fellow and Deputy Director at the Fraser of Allander Institute. Emma's work at the Institute is focussed on policy analysis, covering a wide range of areas of social and economic policy.  Emma is an experienced economist and has previously held roles as a senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and as an economic adviser within the Scottish Government.

Part of Collection

The Wise Group have commissioned the Fraser of Allander Institute to analyse the effectiveness of New Routes in reducing reoffending and reconviction in Scotland. This research forms part of a 4-year partnership with the Wise Group, a social enterprise that aims to help people out of poverty through one-to-one mentoring schemes, offering holistic means for people to change their lives within justice, employment and energy.