Editorial 2.1

EuroVista_vol2_no1_cover180[1]This is a Special Issue of EuroVista on the theme of Offender Engagement. The issue focuses especially on the Offender Engagement Programme (OEP), an initiative of the National Offender Management Service in England and Wales (NOMS). While so sharp a focus on the policies and practices of a single jurisdiction is exceptional for EuroVista, we are confident that the topics discussed here will be of considerable interest to all our readers across Europe because of their general importance for working with offenders effectively and well. We were also keen to take advantage of an opportunity to publish papers written by a highly distinguished group of scholars and researchers, associated in their different ways with the OEP and reflecting on it at an exciting stage in its development1.

In the first, scene-setting paper, Sue Rex presents an overview of the OEP, explaining its origins, rationale and achievements so far, including an outline of the pilot programmes under implementation. As they explain, the guiding philosophy of OEP is ” … that the one-to-one relationship between the offender and the practitioner can be a powerful means of changing behaviour and therefore reducing re-offending.” Yet while one-one supervision remains the most usual experience for service users, it is significantly under- researched, its mechanisms and effects poorly understood.

The OEP’s emphasis on the relationship echoes the first basic principle of the European Probation Rules – “Probation agencies shall aim to reduce reoffending by establishing positive relationships with offenders in order to supervise … guide and assist them and to promote their successful social inclusion.”After all, many agencies affirm an aim to reduce reoffending: what is distinctive about, perhaps definitive of, probation work is the belief that this is most likely to be achieved through professional relationships and positive engagement. But what is involved here? What are the characteristics of these relationships and how are they to be accomplished?

Many of the contributors to this issue refer to the seminal meta-analysis undertaken by Dowden and Andrews (2004) who identified the principles of ‘core correctional practice’ as:

  •  the firm, fair and clear use of authority
  •  modelling prosocial and anti-criminal attitudes, cognition and behaviours
  •  teaching concrete problem solving skills
  •  using community resources (brokerage)
  • (and, ‘arguably the most important’ component) forming and working through warm, open and enthusiastic relationships

The OEP seeks to develop these insights through a systematic attempt to understand the characteristics of effective relationships, to explore the conditions in which relationships can be established and engagement sustained, to try to identify the training needs of the staff involved and to evaluate the effects of practising in these ways. As Sue Rex and Elaine Ellis explain, an evaluation strategy is integral to the OEP and built into the project design. The OEP encourages practitioners to be reflective and responsive and to learn more about their own work in and through their practice, thus promoting a culture of evaluation throughout the whole organisation. This critically includes careful attention to what has become known as the user voice – service users’ own perceptions of their experience – which, historically, has been a sorely neglected resource for practice development. In the OEP, sensitive and systematic attention to the perceptions of users is insisted upon – and indeed how else could the quality of a relationship be assessed than by asking those involved in it?

Rosie Travers considers some of the developments in offender behaviour programmes (OBPs) and their recent progress in enhancing offender engagement. OBPs have usually been based on the influential paradigm known as RNR, under which the nature and intensity of intervention is determined by an assessment of Risks, Needs and Responsivity. Travers addresses the criticism that RNR in practice has struggled to accommodate individual responsivity, since programmes are tightly prescribed and structured. She describes ‘… the new generation of OBPs [which] seek more explicitly to focus on a personalised delivery of the programme curriculum in a richer, more sophisticated manner than may have been achieved in the past.’ As Travers argues, the OEP strives to build upon the achievements of RNR, complementing its insights and principles by drawing on research into desistance, ‘good lives’ and readiness to change. The shift of focus that desistance studies call for is a recognition that, rather than seeking to lead the process, a facilitator of change might be ‘more explicitly described as coach and mentor in the offender’s journey’: it is the offender who is’the expert in his or her own life.’ This must include attention to strengths and aspirations as much as to risks and needs.

As the principle of responsivity implies, there is an important sense in which every relationship is different from every other – a unique, dynamic interaction between individuals. This is one of the reasons why an emphasis on practitioner judgement is another central theme of the OEP. Probation in England and Wales has been burdened with a number of targets – often requirements to achieve a task within a precisely specified time limit, which even at best, are an index of efficiency rather than of effectiveness. This has been accompanied by tight prescription about procedures that must be followed and actions that have to be taken. In the OEP, the value of practitioner discretion is affirmed, to respond to the very many ways in which people and circumstances may differ. Andrew Bridges gives a cautionary tale of what may happen when procedures become too tightly specified. He found that probation in New Zealand ‘ … got itself into a knot: Managers had been issuing ever more detailed stringent procedures and processes in response to things going wrong – which in turn required weightier management in order to measure and manage compliance with those procedures.’ He urges the value of individual judgement: within the parameters of some ‘bottom- line’ requirements, practitioners should be enabled and supported to use their discretion.

Peter Raynor, Pamela Ugwudike, Maurice Vanstone and Brian Heath summarise a research study designed to understand better the skills and methods used in individual supervision. Many hours of video material were examined in detail to identify how probation staff used relationship skills and structuring skills in their practice. This more precise specification of skills seems essential if they are to be developed by staff and their effects are to be evaluated. The first indications of this research are encouraging: there are signs of an association between the deployment of relationship skills by officers and a reduction in the average levels of assessed risk in the offenders they supervise, although the authors are careful to point out that there is much more analysis to be done before confident conclusions can be drawn.

Eddie Kane, Mary Jinks and Mary McMurran also discuss relationship skills. Probation is by no means the only profession that must find ways of engaging individuals whom Chris Trotter (1999) aptly designated involuntary clients. Kane and colleagues consider the challenges of working with people who have a personality disorder – a topic of especial interest to criminal justice social workers and probation staff, since people with a personality disorder are known to be heavily over-represented among offender populations. They describe the design of a programme to equip staff with the skills they need to assess and enhance readiness to engage.

Trish McCulloch addresses the central theme of compliance, upon which the very possibility of offender engagement must rest. In the earliest days of RNR, it was already clear that no programme could have impact without participants’ compliance and that attrition (people not completing – and sometimes not even starting – offending behaviour programmes) could seriously damage the What Works project. McCulloch echoes Nils Christie, who famously argued (in Conflicts as Property 1977) that offenders and victims have a right to be in charge of their own conflicts and that appropriation by criminal justice professionals had disempowered them, undermining the possibility of making positive use of conflicts and processes to find resolution. In the same way, McCulloch argues, compliance – ‘a complex and multi- dimensional dynamic’ – belongs to service users: practitioners should understand themselves as having key but still supporting roles in a process that can only be led by the offender and properly belongs to them.

Gill McIvor discusses a less familiar aspect of engagement. The sentencing decision has, in the jurisdictions of the UK, normally ended the involvement of the Court. But of course the sentence is not a conclusion (as it must typically seem to lawyers and to courts), but rather a key moment in a process (as it has always seemed to defendants and to probation staff). Initiatives first introduced for drug users involve a regular review of progress by the court, to offer encouragement, to monitor and to respond to difficulties. This raises the possibility of a continuing relationship between court and offender and poses questions about whether and how the principles of offender engagement have an application here too. The continuing interest of courts could indeed enhance what has been called normative compliance (Bottoms 2001). McIvor discusses the advantages, but also the drawbacks and hazards here and emphasises the value of courts engaging too with those professionals working most closely with the offenders concerned.

In an instructive discussion of working with sex offenders in approved premises, Francis Cowe raises some fundamental questions for the OEP. He notes that the political emphasis on risk, containment and monitoring can serve to marginalise, perhaps even suppress, some of the principles of offender engagement. The immanent question then becomes: if probation emphasises engagement, will it be taken (even if mistaken) to be compromising its commitment to protect the public? As Cowe insists, a hostel should not content itself with merely holding people without further offending during their time of residence, but should aspire to promote and support the process of desistance and it will achieve this best through active engagement, ‘pro-active and pro-social relations with residents and outside agencies’. He also shows that engagement is not something that can be confined to specific programmes, but can be achieved through ordinary, ‘mundane’, human interactions. This seems fundamentally important: like motivational work and like pro- social modelling, offender engagement is the proper business of the whole organisation in all its dealings with service users. Cowe further emphasises that ‘Managing and understanding one’s own emotions is another central skill factor.’ Emotional literacy is central to relationships and offender engagement (Knight and Clow). It could be said that motivational work and pro-social modelling without emotional literacy are (and will be seen to be) hollow and manipulative. A challenge for the OEP is to attend carefully to questions about how emotional literacy is to be developed among staff and what this may mean for training.

In the final paper, Anthony Bottoms summarises some of the key emerging findings of the studies that he and colleagues are undertaking into the processes of desistance. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, relationships – with partners, with children, with parents -are commonly mentioned by offenders as influential. These are intimate personal relationships, rather than professional ones, but probation staff, mentors and others can support (not lead) here by helping people to move towards life styles that make personal relationships more likely to flourish – or away from ways of living that are likely to wreck them. Nor should the quality and influence of a professional relationship be underestimated: it can be a sense of obligation and loyalty to a probation officer that brings a reason to cooperate and indeed to go straight (Rex 1999). Smith (2006: 371) speaks of the potential of ‘the quality of the relationship with the supervising officer, if he or she becomes someone whom the offender would rather not let down, and whose good opinion the offender values and wishes to keep’. Farrall (2002) found that ex-offenders, recalling their dealings with probation, especially emphasise the sense of personal interest and concern, of partnership and cooperation. Like Farrall, Bottoms shows that the path to desistance is marked by lapse and relapse, even when the direction of travel is fairly clear. This has implications, perhaps, for an evaluation of the effects of OEP initiatives, which must be able to accommodate this complexity and not rely on the simple conventional indices of reconviction. For that matter, some of the influences of probation involvement can take time to be incorporated into the changes in self-understanding with which desistance is typically associated, implying a longer timescale for the evaluation of effects.

There is – and no doubt always will be – much more to be said about offender engagement. It has already been suggested that the concept of emotional literacy is exceptionally important to this project and it is to be hoped that there will be further research and discussion about this. Further, what are the implications of offender engagement for staff education and training? It is at least arguable that relationships cannot be reduced to technical skills, even if skilled professional practice is an important component: the capacity to form and work profitably through engaging professional relationships depends upon personal characteristics, qualities and experiences that cannot be achieved simply or quickly. Further questions arise from the concept of offender management itself, which implies the coordinated contribution of a range of services, so that in some cases offenders may have to be ‘engaged’ by several professionals. In the early days of offender management, Robinson (2005) wisely warned of the risks here. If relationships are at the heart of probation work, might this be jeopardised by a model that seemed likely to reduce the amount of personal contact between offender and probation officer, perhaps leaving the offender manager as the organiser and coordinator of interventions delivered by others?

Again, while many will celebrate the OEP’s affirmation of the value of judgement and discretion, no one is suggesting that this should mean that anything goes. Discretion was limited originally not only for organisational and bureaucratic reasons, but to try to ensure consistent and equitable practice. Discretion must not disintegrate into arbitrary or idiosyncratic practice: it must be used appropriately and wisely and this implies reflective and well trained staff, suitably guided and supported by managers and colleagues. In this sense too the OEP has implications for the whole organisation. There may be a further question about the implications of emphasising discretion for the principle of programme integrity. This principle insists that an offending behaviour programme must be delivered as intended, with a specified sequence of interventions. But part of the OEP’s rationale is to empower practitioners to practise in accordance with their own judgement and in response to differences among individuals and their circumstances. How is this to be reconciled with programme integrity? These are among the questions, touched upon in their different ways by our contributors, which the OEP will have to continue to address.

While all contributors to this issue are from the UK, it has already been suggested that the OEP’s insistence on the centrality of relationship in supporting change will be readily recognised by colleagues in other countries. The editors hope that these papers will be a stimulus to practitioners and scholars from elsewhere in Europe to write about their own experiences and perceptions, perhaps comparing and contrasting the UK experience with their own. The editors would like to invite and to challenge scholars, managers and practitioners in other countries to contribute papers on this topic from their own perspectives.

Finally, the Executive Board and the editors would like to express a warm welcome to the members of our new Editorial Board, which has been established since our last issue appeared. Our aspiration is to recruit people from as many different European countries as we can to act as champions for EuroVista, especially in their own countries. We are most grateful to those who have accepted our invitation – Aline Bauwens (Belgium), Nicola Carr (Northern Ireland), Deirdre Healy (Ireland), Will Hughes (England), Christine Morgenstern (Germany), Guy Schmit (Luxembourg), Thomas Ugelvik (Norway), Beth Weaver (Scotland). Many of them have already contributed by reviewing papers submitted to the journal and have started to generate some exciting ideas. The editors would be most interested to hear from others who might be interested in undertaking this role and joining the Editorial Board.

Rob Canton
January 2012

NOTES
1 All the papers in this Special Issue are based on presentations delivered at a seminar on the OEP, convened by NOMS and held in September 2011 in London. The editors of EuroVista would like to express their gratitude to all contributors for publishing their work in this issue and for meeting a very tight deadline for publication. We are especially grateful to Martin Copsey, Sue Rex and George Barrow of NOMS without whose support this issue would not have been possible, and to Peter Raynor whose conversations with Sue Rex and Martin Copsey were the original inspiration for this issue.

This is a Special Issue of EuroVista on the theme of Offender Engagement. The issue focuses especially on the Offender Engagement Programme (OEP), an initiative of the National Offender Management Service in England and Wales (NOMS). While so sharp a focus on the policies and practices of a single jurisdiction is exceptional for EuroVista, we are confident that the topics discussed here will be of considerable interest to all our readers across Europe because of their general importance for working with offenders effectively and well. We were also keen to take advantage of an opportunity to publish papers written by a highly distinguished group of scholars and researchers, associated in their different ways with the OEP and reflecting on it at an exciting stage in its development1.

In the first, scene-setting paper, Sue Rex presents an overview of the OEP, explaining its origins, rationale and achievements so far, including an outline of the pilot programmes under implementation. As they explain, the guiding philosophy of OEP is ” … that the one-to-one relationship between the offender and the practitioner can be a powerful means of changing behaviour and therefore reducing re-offending.” Yet while one-one supervision remains the most usual experience for service users, it is significantly under- researched, its mechanisms and effects poorly understood.

The OEP’s emphasis on the relationship echoes the first basic principle of the European Probation Rules – “Probation agencies shall aim to reduce reoffending by establishing positive relationships with offenders in order to supervise … guide and assist them and to promote their successful social inclusion.”After all, many agencies affirm an aim to reduce reoffending: what is distinctive about, perhaps definitive of, probation work is the belief that this is most likely to be achieved through professional relationships and positive engagement. But what is involved here? What are the characteristics of these relationships and how are they to be accomplished?

Many of the contributors to this issue refer to the seminal meta-analysis undertaken by Dowden and Andrews (2004) who identified the principles of ‘core correctional practice’ as:

  •  the firm, fair and clear use of authority
  •  modelling prosocial and anti-criminal attitudes, cognition and behaviours
  •  teaching concrete problem solving skills
  •  using community resources (brokerage)
  • (and, ‘arguably the most important’ component) forming and working through warm, open and enthusiastic relationships

The OEP seeks to develop these insights through a systematic attempt to understand the characteristics of effective relationships, to explore the conditions in which relationships can be established and engagement sustained, to try to identify the training needs of the staff involved and to evaluate the effects of practising in these ways. As Sue Rex and Elaine Ellis explain, an evaluation strategy is integral to the OEP and built into the project design. The OEP encourages practitioners to be reflective and responsive and to learn more about their own work in and through their practice, thus promoting a culture of evaluation throughout the whole organisation. This critically includes careful attention to what has become known as the user voice – service users’ own perceptions of their experience – which, historically, has been a sorely neglected resource for practice development. In the OEP, sensitive and systematic attention to the perceptions of users is insisted upon – and indeed how else could the quality of a relationship be assessed than by asking those involved in it?

Rosie Travers considers some of the developments in offender behaviour programmes (OBPs) and their recent progress in enhancing offender engagement. OBPs have usually been based on the influential paradigm known as RNR, under which the nature and intensity of intervention is determined by an assessment of Risks, Needs and Responsivity. Travers addresses the criticism that RNR in practice has struggled to accommodate individual responsivity, since programmes are tightly prescribed and structured. She describes ‘… the new generation of OBPs [which] seek more explicitly to focus on a personalised delivery of the programme curriculum in a richer, more sophisticated manner than may have been achieved in the past.’ As Travers argues, the OEP strives to build upon the achievements of RNR, complementing its insights and principles by drawing on research into desistance, ‘good lives’ and readiness to change. The shift of focus that desistance studies call for is a recognition that, rather than seeking to lead the process, a facilitator of change might be ‘more explicitly described as coach and mentor in the offender’s journey’: it is the offender who is’the expert in his or her own life.’ This must include attention to strengths and aspirations as much as to risks and needs.

As the principle of responsivity implies, there is an important sense in which every relationship is different from every other – a unique, dynamic interaction between individuals. This is one of the reasons why an emphasis on practitioner judgement is another central theme of the OEP. Probation in England and Wales has been burdened with a number of targets – often requirements to achieve a task within a precisely specified time limit, which even at best, are an index of efficiency rather than of effectiveness. This has been accompanied by tight prescription about procedures that must be followed and actions that have to be taken. In the OEP, the value of practitioner discretion is affirmed, to respond to the very many ways in which people and circumstances may differ. Andrew Bridges gives a cautionary tale of what may happen when procedures become too tightly specified. He found that probation in New Zealand ‘ … got itself into a knot: Managers had been issuing ever more detailed stringent procedures and processes in response to things going wrong – which in turn required weightier management in order to measure and manage compliance with those procedures.’ He urges the value of individual judgement: within the parameters of some ‘bottom- line’ requirements, practitioners should be enabled and supported to use their discretion.

Peter Raynor, Pamela Ugwudike, Maurice Vanstone and Brian Heath summarise a research study designed to understand better the skills and methods used in individual supervision. Many hours of video material were examined in detail to identify how probation staff used relationship skills and structuring skills in their practice. This more precise specification of skills seems essential if they are to be developed by staff and their effects are to be evaluated. The first indications of this research are encouraging: there are signs of an association between the deployment of relationship skills by officers and a reduction in the average levels of assessed risk in the offenders they supervise, although the authors are careful to point out that there is much more analysis to be done before confident conclusions can be drawn.

Eddie Kane, Mary Jinks and Mary McMurran also discuss relationship skills. Probation is by no means the only profession that must find ways of engaging individuals whom Chris Trotter (1999) aptly designated involuntary clients. Kane and colleagues consider the challenges of working with people who have a personality disorder – a topic of especial interest to criminal justice social workers and probation staff, since people with a personality disorder are known to be heavily over-represented among offender populations. They describe the design of a programme to equip staff with the skills they need to assess and enhance readiness to engage.

Trish McCulloch addresses the central theme of compliance, upon which the very possibility of offender engagement must rest. In the earliest days of RNR, it was already clear that no programme could have impact without participants’ compliance and that attrition (people not completing – and sometimes not even starting – offending behaviour programmes) could seriously damage the What Works project. McCulloch echoes Nils Christie, who famously argued (in Conflicts as Property 1977) that offenders and victims have a right to be in charge of their own conflicts and that appropriation by criminal justice professionals had disempowered them, undermining the possibility of making positive use of conflicts and processes to find resolution. In the same way, McCulloch argues, compliance – ‘a complex and multi- dimensional dynamic’ – belongs to service users: practitioners should understand themselves as having key but still supporting roles in a process that can only be led by the offender and properly belongs to them.

Gill McIvor discusses a less familiar aspect of engagement. The sentencing decision has, in the jurisdictions of the UK, normally ended the involvement of the Court. But of course the sentence is not a conclusion (as it must typically seem to lawyers and to courts), but rather a key moment in a process (as it has always seemed to defendants and to probation staff). Initiatives first introduced for drug users involve a regular review of progress by the court, to offer encouragement, to monitor and to respond to difficulties. This raises the possibility of a continuing relationship between court and offender and poses questions about whether and how the principles of offender engagement have an application here too. The continuing interest of courts could indeed enhance what has been called normative compliance (Bottoms 2001). McIvor discusses the advantages, but also the drawbacks and hazards here and emphasises the value of courts engaging too with those professionals working most closely with the offenders concerned.

In an instructive discussion of working with sex offenders in approved premises, Francis Cowe raises some fundamental questions for the OEP. He notes that the political emphasis on risk, containment and monitoring can serve to marginalise, perhaps even suppress, some of the principles of offender engagement. The immanent question then becomes: if probation emphasises engagement, will it be taken (even if mistaken) to be compromising its commitment to protect the public? As Cowe insists, a hostel should not content itself with merely holding people without further offending during their time of residence, but should aspire to promote and support the process of desistance and it will achieve this best through active engagement, ‘pro-active and pro-social relations with residents and outside agencies’. He also shows that engagement is not something that can be confined to specific programmes, but can be achieved through ordinary, ‘mundane’, human interactions. This seems fundamentally important: like motivational work and like pro- social modelling, offender engagement is the proper business of the whole organisation in all its dealings with service users. Cowe further emphasises that ‘Managing and understanding one’s own emotions is another central skill factor.’ Emotional literacy is central to relationships and offender engagement (Knight and Clow). It could be said that motivational work and pro-social modelling without emotional literacy are (and will be seen to be) hollow and manipulative. A challenge for the OEP is to attend carefully to questions about how emotional literacy is to be developed among staff and what this may mean for training.

In the final paper, Anthony Bottoms summarises some of the key emerging findings of the studies that he and colleagues are undertaking into the processes of desistance. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, relationships – with partners, with children, with parents -are commonly mentioned by offenders as influential. These are intimate personal relationships, rather than professional ones, but probation staff, mentors and others can support (not lead) here by helping people to move towards life styles that make personal relationships more likely to flourish – or away from ways of living that are likely to wreck them. Nor should the quality and influence of a professional relationship be underestimated: it can be a sense of obligation and loyalty to a probation officer that brings a reason to cooperate and indeed to go straight (Rex 1999). Smith (2006: 371) speaks of the potential of ‘the quality of the relationship with the supervising officer, if he or she becomes someone whom the offender would rather not let down, and whose good opinion the offender values and wishes to keep’. Farrall (2002) found that ex-offenders, recalling their dealings with probation, especially emphasise the sense of personal interest and concern, of partnership and cooperation. Like Farrall, Bottoms shows that the path to desistance is marked by lapse and relapse, even when the direction of travel is fairly clear. This has implications, perhaps, for an evaluation of the effects of OEP initiatives, which must be able to accommodate this complexity and not rely on the simple conventional indices of reconviction. For that matter, some of the influences of probation involvement can take time to be incorporated into the changes in self-understanding with which desistance is typically associated, implying a longer timescale for the evaluation of effects.

There is – and no doubt always will be – much more to be said about offender engagement. It has already been suggested that the concept of emotional literacy is exceptionally important to this project and it is to be hoped that there will be further research and discussion about this. Further, what are the implications of offender engagement for staff education and training? It is at least arguable that relationships cannot be reduced to technical skills, even if skilled professional practice is an important component: the capacity to form and work profitably through engaging professional relationships depends upon personal characteristics, qualities and experiences that cannot be achieved simply or quickly. Further questions arise from the concept of offender management itself, which implies the coordinated contribution of a range of services, so that in some cases offenders may have to be ‘engaged’ by several professionals. In the early days of offender management, Robinson (2005) wisely warned of the risks here. If relationships are at the heart of probation work, might this be jeopardised by a model that seemed likely to reduce the amount of personal contact between offender and probation officer, perhaps leaving the offender manager as the organiser and coordinator of interventions delivered by others?

Again, while many will celebrate the OEP’s affirmation of the value of judgement and discretion, no one is suggesting that this should mean that anything goes. Discretion was limited originally not only for organisational and bureaucratic reasons, but to try to ensure consistent and equitable practice. Discretion must not disintegrate into arbitrary or idiosyncratic practice: it must be used appropriately and wisely and this implies reflective and well trained staff, suitably guided and supported by managers and colleagues. In this sense too the OEP has implications for the whole organisation. There may be a further question about the implications of emphasising discretion for the principle of programme integrity. This principle insists that an offending behaviour programme must be delivered as intended, with a specified sequence of interventions. But part of the OEP’s rationale is to empower practitioners to practise in accordance with their own judgement and in response to differences among individuals and their circumstances. How is this to be reconciled with programme integrity? These are among the questions, touched upon in their different ways by our contributors, which the OEP will have to continue to address.

While all contributors to this issue are from the UK, it has already been suggested that the OEP’s insistence on the centrality of relationship in supporting change will be readily recognised by colleagues in other countries. The editors hope that these papers will be a stimulus to practitioners and scholars from elsewhere in Europe to write about their own experiences and perceptions, perhaps comparing and contrasting the UK experience with their own. The editors would like to invite and to challenge scholars, managers and practitioners in other countries to contribute papers on this topic from their own perspectives.

Finally, the Executive Board and the editors would like to express a warm welcome to the members of our new Editorial Board, which has been established since our last issue appeared. Our aspiration is to recruit people from as many different European countries as we can to act as champions for EuroVista, especially in their own countries. We are most grateful to those who have accepted our invitation – Aline Bauwens (Belgium), Nicola Carr (Northern Ireland), Deirdre Healy (Ireland), Will Hughes (England), Christine Morgenstern (Germany), Guy Schmit (Luxembourg), Thomas Ugelvik (Norway), Beth Weaver (Scotland). Many of them have already contributed by reviewing papers submitted to the journal and have started to generate some exciting ideas. The editors would be most interested to hear from others who might be interested in undertaking this role and joining the Editorial Board.

Rob Canton
January 2012

NOTES
1 All the papers in this Special Issue are based on presentations delivered at a seminar on the OEP, convened by NOMS and held in September 2011 in London. The editors of EuroVista would like to express their gratitude to all contributors for publishing their work in this issue and for meeting a very tight deadline for publication. We are especially grateful to Martin Copsey, Sue Rex and George Barrow of NOMS without whose support this issue would not have been possible, and to Peter Raynor whose conversations with Sue Rex and Martin Copsey were the original inspiration for this issue.