5Is – who is it for and how can they use it?

5Is for practitioners

The vision underlying 5Is is of practitioners who are more like professional consultants and less like technicians with limited diagnostic and response repertoires.

For practitioners, the 5Is tasks aim to combine evidence, theory and practical know-how in a structured way – covering the crime problem, the context, what works and how to realise it.

5Is can be used by practitioners to:

5Is for programme delivery managers

Programme delivery managers, charged with converting policy into practice at scale, aim to assure and improve the performance of the practitioners and practice organisations within their purview. They may also seek to extend that practice to cover more of the same crime problems in new contexts, and broaden its scope to tackle new kinds of problem. To these ends they may supply funds, guidance and other resources, set targets and standards, and monitor processes, outputs and outcomes. They will especially focus on building the operational and innovative capacities of their practitioners, whether as individuals, teams or organisational units like youth centres or local community safety departments.

Each 5Is description of a project can lead seamlessly from an account of what the action was, and whether well or badly performed, to a structured and systematic account of the organisational and infrastructural reasons why the particular action was taken and why it was well or badly performed. These latter factors are the responsibility of delivery managers to exploit and promulgate, or to remedy, as appropriate, whether by local action or by referral upwards to top-level programme managers. Process models and material expressly for the purpose of guidance of delivery can incorporate the delivery-level knowledge captured by 5Is.

So in terms of delivery-level knowledge, 5Is can supply:

  • A framework to capture key know-how information about crime prevention projects and organise its easy retrieval for selection and replication of good practice.
  • A generic checklist and guide for the detailed steps of the preventive process, to help managers oversee and support the practical design, appraisal, development, planning and quality-assurance of effective crime prevention/ security projects initiated under a wider programme.
  • A means of helping innovation in circumstances where no ready-made solutions exist, by synthesising knowledge from individual, well-evaluated good practice projects into a structured set of principles; and by describing generic transferable elements of crime prevention activity which can be combined in new kinds of project.
  • A means of gap-analysis in our knowledge of what works and how to implement it. (Mapping out the field highlights what is not known – to identify gaps we need maps.)
  • A means of learning from failure as well as from success (which of the 5Is task streams and tasks went wrong in this project, and how can we learn from it?).
  • A more general framework for process evaluation of crime prevention action.
  • A framework for training practitioners and a mental ‘schema’ for structuring how they think about prevention.
  • A means of fostering communication and collaboration between practitioners from diverse agencies and disciplines, and different countries, through clearly-defined standard terms and concepts.

5Is for policymakers

Ministers or policymakers obviously wish delivery managers and practitioners alike to successfully implement their policies. There should thus be an unbroken thread of logic, theory and evidence connecting the three levels of activity. Policymakers in particular will want to know broadly what works, what problems and contexts the action can cover, and what other policy areas it will support, synergise with or antagonise (and what undesired side-effects it may generate). They will also want to know what policies and strategies are deliverable. Existing approaches have failed to support this upward flow of information.

Expressed in these terms, the 5Is framework is intended to support assembly and organisation of the body of knowledge connecting policy to practice via delivery, and to help policymakers select and design policies capable of being delivered at acceptable cost, timescale and risk.

5Is of course provides a ‘home’ for Impact evaluation findings. But its emphasis throughout is on causal mechanisms and the importance of context in co-determining criminal events and in influencing the success or failure of interventions. This means that it is ready-made for facilitating impact (or outcome) evaluations adopting Scientific Realist or Theories of Change approaches.