This article discusses recent research on community penalties in the UK, and in particular the contribution of the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics division (of which the relevant section is now known as RDS-NOMS following its recent relocation as part of the National Offender Management Service). Current statements of methodological preference are discussed in the light of the history of evaluative research in this field, and it is suggested that a perceived need for information management may be leading to an unhelpful narrowing of methodological choices. This approach risks neglecting features of community sentences which require investigation, and at worst could encourage a drift back towards a belief that `nothing works'.
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