Welcome to our fifth publication for sentencers.
In this edition:
- Foreword by chief executive Chris Edwards
- New suite of brief interventions
- New approach to Through the Gate achieving results
- Carol Lee receives top National Probation Award
Foreword by Chief Executive Chris Edwards
Dear Judicial Colleagues,
I write at a time when the Government has outlined its intentions for probation after the current Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) contracts come to an end – confirmed now as spring 2021. I’d like to take this opportunity to underline to you all our ongoing commitment to keeping services on track and to deliver the sentences you impose, against this backdrop of further change.
As you can imagine, whilst having clarity of direction is helpful, it is unsettling for our staff and we will do all we can to keep our people focused on the job in hand. With just under two years to go, it is important we plan and work to minimise disruption and I see our ongoing development of behaviour change interventions as a key part of this. We don’t want to limp over the line, but intend to continue to build and develop an increased range of modern and diverse options available to the courts.
Please consider that CRC employees are ‘probation people’, many long serving, who will continue to work in probation into the future. It is in this context that we see our activity now as being relevant to the long term wellbeing of the Criminal Justice System.
This edition of the Sentencer Newsletter sets out the growing range of interventions designed to reduce reoffending. Some are commissioned services by providers outside of the CRC but a number have been developed in-house using best practice principles and knowledge. We are both proud of the work that has gone into these and excited by their potential impact for Rehabilitation Activity Requirements in particular. Our commitment is to develop these further as we gather evidence through their implementation.
I look forward to CRC staff having increased levels of contact with sentencers over the next two years, and to the mutual benefits that greater transparency and familiarity will bring.
Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC chief executive officer
The Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC is rolling out a new range of rehabilitation activities as part of the organisation’s approach to delivering interventions.
The interventions have been developed by a team of experienced staff from across the CRC. They have taken an evidence-led approach and assimilated desistance theory into the design of all of the interventions.
In total 10 RARs and 17 brief interventions will come online over the coming months. Interventions tackling victim awareness, emotional management, thinking skills and domestic abuse are being prioritised for the first wave of roll out, which has already begun.
Interventions can be used to fulfil the requirements of Rehabilitation Activities or licence and Post Sentence Supervision activity.
The brief intervention suite has been developed to provide purposeful interventions to service users who have less complex needs and are assessed as a lower risk of causing serious harm and / or reoffending.
Donna Whitehall, community director, said: “We have developed a range of interventions each of which has a specific focus and can be undertaken as standalone activities but that can also be used as part of a package tailored for each service user.
“This reflects a central tenet of desistance theory, which says interventions are more likely to be effective when they are targeted to helping support an individual’s personal growth and social integration.
“Some interventions are more intense in terms of delivery than others and based on evidence that shows people respond best to behavioural change programmes that reflect their level of offending.”
HELP is a 15 session group work programme aimed at domestic abuse perpetrators or those individuals who have difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships.
STAR is an eight session group work programme aiming to explore and raise awareness of the hidden victim/impact of shop theft. This intervention will increase consequential thinking and reduce further offending behaviour.
Better Solutions is an eight session group work programme aimed at improving the individual’s thinking skills to avoid further offending. It raises awareness of the importance of clear and constructive thinking, helps to understanding the links between thoughts/feelings and behaviours. It explores emotional management, perspective taking, communication skills and encourages a pro social lifestyle.
Impact to Change is a generic victim awareness intervention based on restorative justice approaches which encourages the individual to explore the impact of their offending behaviour on their victims in order to reduce the number of victims in the future.
Managing Emotions is an eight session group work programme aiming to improve anger management to support positive, offence-free lifestyles and healthy relationships. This intervention will increase the individual’s understanding of anger, improve their self-awareness, develop emotional recognition, emotional expression and increase resilience.
The RARs listed above are now available to both NPS and CRC service users; however offenders managed by the CRC will also have access to other new activities which have been designed to address offending related needs. For more information, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]
New approach to Through the Gate achieving results
Caption: CGM CRC’s Dave Ankers and Kim Ives.
Stuart is one of hundreds of prisoners to be supported by a radical new approach to delivering services to offenders leaving custody.
The 35-year-old, from Bolton, was met by his high intensity treatment officer, Kim Ives, 12 weeks before he left HMP Hindley so she could help him prepare for life back in the community.
Stuart completed a five-year sentence for a string of burglaries he committed to feed his heroin and crack cocaine habit. Addicted to drugs since being a teenager, Stuart had alienated most of his family and following previous prison spells returned to sofa surfing and drugs.
Nationally 64 per cent of adults released from short prison sentences of less than 12 months reoffend within a year. Interserve’s five Community Rehabilitation Companies are addressing this ‘revolving door’ problem through its Integrated Through the Gate (ITTG) model which was rolled out in April, following investment from the Ministry of Justice.
Kim, who works for the Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC, met Stuart outside the prison gates and took him to his first probation appointment – with her colleague Dave Ankers – and appointments with his GP, accommodation providers and the Jobcentre.
Stuart, who suffers from acute anxiety, said: “Kim and Dave have helped me. When I’ve ended up being released before I’ve had nothing. I’ve had to move from house to house. Then people say ‘you’ve been inside, have a treat’ and offered me the drugs that got me in trouble in the first place.
“I’m sticking to my prescription. If I can stick at it I’m going to get my first ever flat. That’s keeping me focused.
“Dave is making me keep to my appointments. Kim is great. The housing people also make sure I don’t forget things and are helping me with my benefits.
“Prison is boring. It takes years out of your life. I want to change and for the first time I feel supported to try my hardest.”
Kim worked with Stuart’s family to find him a place to stay while he waited for a room at Bolton House, a supported accommodation provider run by the Riverside Housing Association. He has now been clean from heroin since May 5th.
Stuart was assessed as a prisoner likely to re-offend and so qualified for support from a HITO.
Kim volunteered for CGM CRC before first working for the organisation in an administrative capacity and then applying for the HITO role when Interserve created 120 posts across the 18 prisons covered by the company’s CRCs.
She said: “Being homeless creates anxiety for Stuart and he historically has coped with anxiety by taking drugs.
“The beauty of the ITTG is that I develop a relationship with prisoners while they are inside, but then that support continues in the community. I can therefore build trust and help them make that transition.”
Dave, a specialist in HITO cases, said: “My experience has shown that without the level of support which Stuart has had, the first day post-release almost sets him up to fail.
“ITTG means my caseload comprises only former prisoners who have a high-risk of reoffending, so I am developing a level of expertise which helps me work well with these cases, to work efficiently and to navigate the system.
“Kim’s support in this is absolutely critical. She is a direct link into prison, can get accommodation referrals processed incredibly quickly and provides that link into the community which makes this a genuinely through the gate service.”
Stuart has been clean from heroin since May 5th and is looking forward to receiving the keys for his first flat in August.
Carol Lee receives top National Probation Award
Carol Lee last week won a top national award in recognition of her work supporting offenders to make positive changes to their lives.
Carol works for the Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC as a community support navigator. She supports people referred to her from police custody suites and courts in Wigan. She has worked with more than 350 people during the last 12 months and was nominated for the “incredible impact” she has had on three service users’ lives.
She won the Fairness, Decency & Respect category in the prestigious Probation Officer of the Year Awards run by Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service. The national event recognises the best work carried out by probation services across England and Wales.
Carol said: “I find it hard to express how I feel because the standard of the finalists was all so high that I was overwhelmed simply to be there.
“I am especially pleased because the win highlights the incredible work the team undertakes day-in-and-day-out to support some of the most vulnerable in our society to make lasting positive changes to their lives.”
Carol is part of a specialist team called the Greater Manchester Integrated Healthcare in Custody and Wider Liaison and Diversion Service. The team meets people in police custody suites and at court, assesses their needs and refers them to support services.
The service registers clients with a variety of services including health, substance misuse, accommodation and mental health agencies. Colleagues also accompany clients to appointments and help with benefits claims – among other issues.
Carol said: “There are no quick fixes, but with motivation and determination I’ve seen people make incredible changes to their lives. My job has shown me that change is always possible – irrespective of an individual’s background.”