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Policy Paper On How Evidence Based Policy Making Is Changing The Nature And Operation Of The Policy Environment Within The Home Office

The pre-eminence of the so-called Evidence Based Policy Making (EBPM) within policy circles of the UK Government continues to be a source of heated debate. This paper attempts to first define the EBPM and then sketches the factors which have ontributed to its incorporation into mainstream policy circles. The second part of the paper presents a succinct analysis drawing upon a variety of examples, of how the EBPM is being applied within the policy environment of the Home Office. It is found that the EBPM has certainly permeated the activities of the Home Office; however, because the activities of the organization are so varied, just as the stakeholders involved, it is difficult if not impossible to make generalizations about the consequences of the introduction of the EBPM for the organization's activities and its stakeholders.

Evidence Based Policy Making (EBPM) can be defined as a policy feature which is based on the premise that evidence, mainly in the form of research and empirical knowledge, acts as a useful ingredient for the policy design and implementation processes. According to Bullock et al. (2001) integrating evidence is a key characteristic of modern policy making process, which includes activities such as reviewing and making use of existing evidence, evaluating new policies, commissioning new research and involving experts when devising policies in specialist areas.

However, one major policy area in which there has been limited success at integrating evidence with policy practice is Immigration. It is important pointing out that the Home Office has been attempting to adopt the EBPM approach in this major activity as well, mainly in relation to the Refugees Integration Strategy: this was launched in 2000 with the specific aim to proactively engage and integrate the asylum seeking community into the economy and culture of Britain. However, the lack of an organized set of evidence and research base has been a major obstacle in this regard (Schibel et al., 2002) as well as the fact that immigration remains a highly and continuously policitized state of affairs, overly dependent upon global and political pressures (Silverman, 2005).

In conclusion therefore, it can be said that the EBPM has entered mainstream policy making circles including the Home Office, which has had to adapt its operational strategies accordingly by investing large sums of money into research and development, by centralizing the coordination of its core activities and by joining up with other key Government departments in policy design and implementation. However, as reiterated by most analysts there is no general agreement as to how well EBPM is driving a homogeneous change in general: in the Home Office case, Immigration Policies testify this fact, in spite of a significant level of consolidation of the particular approach in other areas such as criminal justice and probation services.

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