Joan believes arrest was catalyst for change

Joan was arrested for assaulting her 26-year-old son during a heated row at their home in Runcorn.

After the assault the son called the police. Joan* handed herself in at the police station and was sentenced at Runcorn Magistrates Court to a 12-month Community Order with 20 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 40 hours Community Payback.

The mum-of-one, who had never previously been in trouble with the law, bitterly regrets the offence.

Joan attends a women’s centre to carry out her order, which is supervised by the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company’s probation case manager Gemma Bailey. Both Joan and her son suffer from anxiety, and at the time of the attack she had stopped taking her medication, was struggling with work pressures and was going through the menopause.

Joan said: “I am genuinely pleased that my son went to the police because what I did was wrong, and I deserve what has happened to me.

“Going through the courts was incredibly stressful. But I was happy to accept whatever punishment I got.

“I was also worried about being on probation, but it’s turned out being one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

Like all women sentenced in Runcorn, Joan is supervised at the Halton Women’s Centre. Probation operates from the building one day a week. Gemma specialises in supervising women offenders and attends every week along with senior case manager Rebecca Rowles and volunteer Darcie Gregory.

Joan said: “Because it’s a woman-only group, it means I feel able to talk about what’s on my mind. I don’t feel I have to hide anything.

“There are some lovely girls that come here. We help each other. I know they’ve committed a crime, but it’s up to each person what they want to share. We don’t judge, but we do try to help each other. It’s great to feel that you are not alone.

“I am absolutely positive that this group helps people to stop re-offending.”

Joan was referred to her GP and is now on the right medication. She successfully completes her sentence in February and has already finished her unpaid work order.

She said: “I completed some of my Community Payback at a charity store. That was also an eye-opener. I met many people who didn’t have very much, and it made me appreciate what I’d got.”

Gemma said: “Joan has done so well. She identified what had lead up to the offence and has learned ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“We focus on strengths as a key way of helping the people we supervise build strategies to help them to not re-offend. Joan has grown in confidence and now appreciates the difference between being assertive and being aggressive.

“I am really proud of the progress she has made.”

Joan added: “I’ve got so much respect for the staff. They are all approachable and I know they want to help me as much as they can.

“The course we did has helped me take a step back, to not lose my temper and to prioritise things so I can see what’s really important.

“When I lost my temper, I felt like I was ready to burst. Coming here has made me realise how stupid I was, I’d kept everything bottled up.

“I am so much happier now.”

*Joan is not the service user’s real name.