Welcome to our sixth publication for sentencers. In this edition:
- A foreword by chief executive Chris Edwards
- New brief interventions and RARs
- Olympic champion Chris Boardman launches bike scheme for offenders
- Tom supported to achieve positive change
Foreword by Chief Executive Chris Edwards
Dear Judicial Colleagues,
As I write this foreword, the CRC contracts officially run for another 12 months to December 2020 but extension beyond that is likely. So whilst there is growing clarity about what the future of Probation looks like, there remain some areas of work which need more clarity and some time still to go in which we must keep a tight grip on maintaining improvements within the current system.
We do know that Offender Management will be joined together in a new unified public sector National Probation Service (NPS) with the intention of realising the benefits of bringing together low, medium and high-risk offender supervision. A mixed economy of delivery organisations will remain with the new NPS working alongside a Probation Delivery Partner responsible for Accredited Programmes and Community Payback. These will fit alongside further services sitting on a framework charged with the mission of delivering rehabilitative interventions in areas such as accommodation and employment support.
Framework services and Probation Delivery Partner services will be delivered by organisations which win upcoming competitions and could be from private or voluntary sectors. In this period of change, it is important to recognise that there is differential vulnerability across the CRC staff group, with some being able to see their future with clarity and others less so. This won’t affect the service you receive but it is something worth being sighted on in my opinion.
Whilst these new organisations represent further changes for Probation Professionals in the frontline, there is an optimism about the future and we will work hard to ensure services provided to the courts, now and in transition over the next couple of years, are delivered to the highest standards.
I am pleased that contact between CRCs and Courts continues to build momentum – visits made by Judges to see for example our Women’s Services or Community Payback have yielded positive feedback – and the performance information we share at liaison meetings underlines our commitment to deliver the sentences of the court robustly and with integrity. Regrettably, I can never rule out the possibility of mistakes being made, but I can say that we work ceaselessly to avoid them.
I remain proud of our CRC workforce – I see excellent work across all our offices with staff receiving national recognition at prestigious events such as Butler Trust and National Probation Awards. You have my commitment that CRC staff will continue to work dedicatedly on behalf of the courts and that we will minimise any impact of further change.
Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC chief executive officer
New brief interventions and RARs
CGM CRC has recently released new schedules for both Accredited and Non Accredited programmes with an increase in groups available for enrolment of service users. The schedules are based on current demands and sentencing trends and aim to reduce waiting times and increase availability of groups.
Significantly, the Building Better Relationships accredited programme (BBR) has changed from a fixed format group to a rolling group. The key benefit of this is the ability to engage service users quickly on the programme with specific foundation module groups. This new format will see quicker start times and help to identify earlier in the sentence any barriers to attendance on the programme.
Breaking Free Online (BFO) with groups has now been included in schedules across Greater Manchester and Cheshire. Breaking Free is a CSAAP recognised accredited programme for service users with identifiable substance misuse related issues. It is an online intervention that participants can access through guided group learning sessions. Service users have their own personal access to the programme outside of the sessions and for as long as they need it post completion. This intervention is solely available to NPS service users at present.
With regards to RAR programmes, specific groups for Manging My Emotions and HELP (Healthy Relationships Programme tackling Domestic Abuse) are included in the schedules to address issues relating to emotional management, conflict resolution and communication. These programmes are available to both CRC and NPS service users.
Olympic champion Chris Boardman launches bike scheme for offenders
Former Olympic cycling champion Chris Boardman has backed a scheme aimed at supporting offenders to make positive changes to their lives.
The CGM CRC has launched a bicycle repair workshop that will be used by offenders completing unpaid work orders made by the courts to enable them to learn new skills.The bicycles repaired at the workshop will be sold at cost to deserving causes.
CGM CRC fitted out the bicycle workshop at its Oldham probation office. The workshop is staffed by a volunteer who learned his trade while on courses at HMP Kirkham and wants to pass on his knowledge as a way of providing purposeful activity to people on probation.
Chris Boardman said: “It’s great to see programmes like this which provide the participants with skills and qualifications in cycle maintenance which are great tools to have for the future. Plus, the finished bikes will really make a difference to the people they go to, giving them a mode of transport and offering them that freedom and independence.”
Greater Manchester Police has supplied unclaimed bicycles to help launch the project. Up to five offenders sentenced to Community Payback will work on the bikes two days per week.
The initiative will enable offenders to gain bicycle maintenance qualifications. Repaired bikes will be offered on a not-for-profit basis to community groups and people in need.
Chris Edwards, CGM CRC’s chief executive, said: “I am thrilled Chris has given his time to support the launch of this project because it will not only support offenders to learn new skills but will also help community groups and encourage people to take up cycling.
“Projects like this have the power to change how people work and think.
“Probation works best when people are supported to make positive changes to their lives and don’t reoffend, and I believe this scheme will deliver on that objective.”
Caption: Chris Boardman (pictured centre) together with Kevin Harrison, Community Payback manager (left) and Chris Edwards at the Oldham probation bicycle repair shop.
Tom supported to achieve positive change
Tom has praised CGM CRC and partner agencies for helping him quit drugs and put his life back on track following a sentence for criminal damage.
The 22-year-old, from Stockport, was arrested after getting into a row with his mum. Tom has autism and following the offence was homeless, was regularly using cocaine and struggling to arrange his benefits.
CGM CRC supervises Tom on a 12 month Community Order which included a requirement to complete 40 hours Community Payback.
Probation case manager Natalie Dickinson’s first role was to secure stable accommodation for Tom, who was sleeping under a bench at Woodley train station. She then made a referral to Disability Stockport to arrange extra support.
Tom has now been reunited with his beloved Staffordshire Bull Terrier Poppy, has quit drugs and has his own house.
He said: “When I lost my dog I tried to kill myself. I was recommended to get a dog to help with my autism and I love Poppy.
“I was in a bad place. I was taking drugs, I was homeless, and I wasn’t looking after Poppy properly
“Probation has really helped me. I’m now four months clean, I volunteer with Disability Stockport and help other people and have a completely different life.”
Natalie enlisted support from Disability Stockport’s Sarah Crookdake and between them worked with partner agencies including social services and Stockport Homes to create a network to support Tom’s progress.
Natalie said: “Tom was leading a chaotic lifestyle when we first met, and it was clear he urgently needed help. He was regularly coming into probation because he had nowhere else to turn. He was often very upset and understanding how his condition was affecting his behaviour was extremely important.
“I was seriously concerned for his welfare because he had no money or family support and at the time was mixing with a bad peer group – but I could also see that he was a lovely lad.
“It was a struggle at first because accommodation providers didn’t want to take Poppy as well, but the support we received from Sarah was instrumental in helping get the right package in place.”
Sarah said: “We often see that issues interlink and therefore it also is the case that to solve these problems requires partner organisations to work together.
“My organisation supports people like Tom to live independently. Natalie was passionate about helping Tom and together we were able to create a support package that has enabled him to make a stunning transformation.
“Without probation being proactive in the first instance it’s quite possible that Tom’s situation would have deteriorated further.”
Sam Bradshaw took over the case half way through Tom’s order.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted by the way that Tom has responded to the support he has been given and that he is making such wonderful progress.”