A working guide for SCBA in the field of justice and security

To make informed policy choices, it is important to have a clear view of the costs and benefits of policies, measures and interventions. In the justice and security domain, ‘cost-benefit’ thinking is relatively new. This is partly because interventions in this area are not always easy to express in costs and benefits.

For this reason, Ecorys developed a working guide together with SEO, commissioned by the WODC. This work guide provides a tool for anyone who wants or is going to carry out a social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) in the field of justice and security.

The purpose of the work guide is to support anyone interested in applying ‘cost-benefit’ thinking in the justice and security domain. The work guide builds on existing guidance documents, work guides for other thematic areas, literature and interviews with experts. The report presents the SCBA methodology in an approachable way that makes ‘cost-benefit’ thinking easily accessible to a wide audience.

The workbook provides a roadmap for conducting an SCBA, starting with a thorough problem analysis and identification of impacts and benefits. It also emphasises the importance of identifying distributional effects and the impact on broad welfare, including aspects that cannot be directly expressed in euros. The workbook emphasises the importance of ‘SCBA as a thinking framework’, an approach that systematically identifies the various positive and negative effects of policy measures. This includes the entire justice chain and the impact on all societal stakeholders, including offenders, victims, and the wider community.

Policymakers can use the guide to make better-informed, evidence-based decisions that take aspects of social welfare into account. This represents a step forward in structuring policy preparation and conciliating discussions around policy measures.

Our full report can be found here.

8 December 2023

1 minute read