Parliamentarian Graham Allen, who with former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith is trying to persuade the UK Treasury to invest in a long-term, recession-savvy early intervention strategy, took the case for a national UK program evaluation center to a House of Commons Select Committee, this week.In the process, he was pursued to say just what he meant by “intervention,” just how early was “early” and how far any government should seek to shape social behavior.Allen is the prime mover of an integrated approach to prevention and early intervention strategies in the Midlands city of Nottingham where he has his parliamentary constituency. [See, for example: Nottingham to become UK's first early intervention city]Polite interrogation began with a question about how far and how well Nottingham’s own efforts were being evaluated by government.Whitehall departments had visited, he said, and local partners were making their own assessments, but he knew it wasn't enough, compared to the scrutiny and cost benefit analysis being carried out in the US – by specialists such as Steve Aos in Washington State.In the UK, benchmarks and a mechanism equivalent to Delbert Elliott's achievements in setting up Blueprints for Violence Prevention at the University of Colorado simply did not not exist."The people there were given 700 schemes by the US Department of Justice and told, 'Take those away. Tell us what the best dozen are,'” he said. “It took them for ever, but they have come back and they have what they call the dozen blueprints, which include, for example, Family Nurse partnerships. "If you want the best in terms of value for money, local applicability and comprehensiveness, you can go to those 12. You do not have to invent your own, as we all do here.“I would love us to be able in the UK to draw all those people who are already doing bits and pieces into one place and say, ‘The thing that Nottingham is doing is down at 550; don’t even think about it. The one that Glasgow is doing on anti-violence is in the top dozen.’”He used the parallel of the UK Public Accounts Committee. “Why not have that sort of academic clout working for this Select Committee? Then people would come to you and say, ‘What’s the best anti-drug program you have, because there are 30 out there?’, ‘What’s your best anti-violence program?’ or ‘What’s your best one for young mums with babies?’ You would be able to say with some authority, ‘Well, we’ve looked at everything and got the evidence base and we think x is the best. Please don’t bother with the one that's being sold very well by a glib salesman as if it were the best one.’”Committee Chairman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield Barry Sheerman, brought him back to earth: “So no-one is evaluating what you are doing?”“There are lots of people evaluating, but there is not a national institution. Government as a whole are not evaluating it, no."Graham Allen’s interest in the US examples and other experience outside the UK brought a hint of criticism. Why did he not look to Bristol University or to the Institute of Education in London? “There's an awful lot of cohort work and studies that have been done in the United Kingdom – very reputable universities, long-term pieces of research – and I wonder why there was not more use of those, Sheerman said. “You almost seem to want to look abroad, rather than at home."There was some fantastic work is going on in the UK, Allen conceded – at Nottingham University, in Birmingham and in Manchester, too. Next month there would be an international conference to bring together domestic and international sources. In the UK the problem was over-centralization It was easier to pick up and understand something that had been developed in the US. Cities like Leicester and Derby had not had the discretion or a local strategic partnership to enable them to deliver in the same full-blooded way.