In 2008 the Justice, Freedom & Security Directorate of the European Commission invited applications for criminal justice projects, making specific reference to Case Management.
The lead partner, the National Offender Management Service for England & Wales (NOMS), was keen to run a project focusing on case management in correctional systems, a comparatively under-studied area of criminal justice practice.
Four other jurisdictions - Bulgaria, Catalonia, Denmark and The Netherlands - and CEP, the European Organisation for Probation, joined the partnership. Research and publication capability was provided by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck College and the Centre of Economic and Social Inclusion, both in London.
The essence of the project was to improve the understanding of case management approaches to correctional work across Europe and to exchange promising practice. Improved understanding will be important to the successful implementation of the Framework Decision on the transfer of non-custodial sentences.
The project started in September 2009 and ended in November 2011.
The unique focus of DOMICE was upon the case management of adult offenders across the whole of any correctional jurisdiction. That is, it was to try to understand the case management arrangements as an offender would experience them, making his/her way through the system, rather than from the perspective of the probation service, prison service or any other provider of services.
The original concept was that the project would collect its information about case management in each correctional system through an on-line questionnaire.
Work was undertaken in 2010 to develop the questionnaire and its on-line platform.
The questionnaire was tested in a pilot run by Project Partners in their own jurisdictions.
It soon became apparent that the questionnaire approach could not produce the information or "intelligence" the project needed. In particular, it was not possible to understand "case management" as an abstract concept, separated from the context of the system in which it operates; it was necessary therefore, to find a way of viewing the case management arrangements in each jurisdiction in the context of the configuration of the host correctional system.
Although the work on the on-line questionnaire within this project came to nothing, an account of it is included here as a healthy example of where a pilot resulted in an approach being radically re-shaped as a consequence of the learning from the pilot. It shows the importance of piloting an approach before "going to scale".