Monday, 25 October 2010

95 Pages Based on Nothing

The Prison Reform Trust and a charity called Unlock have produced a 95 page report about finances and prison. Basic idea seems to be that people in prison (or just released) find it harder to convince banks to trust them. Shock.

But what got me was that this long report is pretty much worthless. On page 81 in the appendix we are told how they gathered their results. Out of a prison population of 85,228 they interviewed 144 or 0.17%. Of those 97 responded through self-filled in surveys leaving just 47 who were actually interviewed or 0.06%. 24 former prisoners filled in on-line surveys and 29 families did likewise. These last two groups chose to do so after reading about it in the Unlock charity's e-newsletter.

OK so the sample sizes were far too small and obviously biased. Now get this from page 18 of the report in the Methodology section:
Statistical data were analysed on SPSS to produce frequencies and simple cross tabulations. The small size of the samples precluded tests for statistical significance.
Yet somehow enough to produce a 95 page report.

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