Welcome to our second publication for sentencers.
Foreword by Chief Executive Chris Edwards
I write at a time when we approach the three year point of our initial seven year contract. We have covered a huge amount of ground in terms of personnel and structural changes – a number of new buildings offering improved working conditions for staff and those we supervise, modernised IT and a Professional Services Centre to help deliver efficient administration across all our services and maximise front line resources.
Whilst we have come a long way, there is more to do and new challenges emerge. The pace of our progress has been restricted by two key factors in my judgement – the lack of qualified probation officer staff and the loss of our direct relationship with Sentencers in lower and higher courts.
The former we are addressing by investing in CRC staff to qualify as Probation Officers (our Senior Case Managers), I’m very proud to announce our first graduates came through this system at the end of 2017 following a major recruitment drive, and with the latter I am pleased that we have a growing dialogue with Crown and Magistrates Courts which includes training events and liaison meetings.
Having spent three years working hard to embed the systems and operating model which won the contract to deliver – for example implementing a number of services commissioned from the charitable sector aimed at improving rates of rehabilitation and reduced offending – we must now refocus our attention on ensuring our enforcement practice and delivery of court sentences are of the highest standard in all locations.
I see many examples of excellent and innovative work being completed by our staff, whether it be the reparative benefits of Community Payback or the delivery of Domestic Violence Programmes, and I am now asking my Senior Management Team to assure themselves that we have the right balance between providing rehabilitative opportunities and promptly enforcing those who don’t comply with our expectations.
Having the confidence of Sentencers as key stakeholders in what we do is our top priority – we will work tirelessly to establish this and our links with courts . My Senior Team and many of my operational staff are long serving probation professionals who take great pride in a job well done and are blending the best of traditional practice alongside new innovations, better buildings and IT to develop and deliver a modern service into the future. I look forward to continuing to work with you.
If you have any questions or would like to arrange a visit to our CRC to learn more about our work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Staci looks to the future
“There was a lot of domestic abuse. I don’t remember much at the time but I felt damaged.”
After overcoming drug, alcohol and family issues, post-natal depression, domestic abuse, committing common assault and loss of access to her children, Staci is now looking forward to starting her own business.
The 25-year-old said: “Family life was not good. I got into trouble as a child and more survived it than lived it.”
At aged 16 Staci was pregnant with her first child and taking drugs. Suffering mental abuse and control at the hands of her partner, she was forced to enter a refuge. Staci and her partner moved closer to Staci’s family. Things got worse and the pattern repeated itself two years later when she gave birth to her second child in 2012.
“There was a lot of domestic abuse. I don’t remember much at the time – but I felt damaged.”
Staci felt isolated. Her partner left her with two children to look after, which left her tired and physically drained. Things came to a head in March 2016 when she was drinking and taking drugs to help her cope. Staci momentarily snapped and assaulted one of her family members.
Subsequently, Staci was arrested by the Police and was given a 12-month community order for common assault, completing her order on 5 October 2017.
She said: “I felt so bad and had prepared myself for prison. I had always been a good mum and done my best for my children. I always ensured they were dressed, clothed and fed and had a structure to their lives.”
Although now separated from her former partner, he continued to post stories on social media which damaged Staci’s attempts to get and keep employment. She moved back in with her mother in October 2016 but was not allowed to be with her children.
Staci met Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC Case manager Lorraine Donnelly when she moved out of her mum’s house and moved in with her new partner. Lorraine introduced Staci to the Wythenshawe Safespots Centre which helps victims of domestic abuse. It’s the first of its kind to be developed and run by domestic abuse survivors.
She said: “Meeting Lorraine was a real turnaround for me. I feel more settled and am moving forward. The communication with Lorraine has been amazing. She has made me believe in myself.
“Safespots has opened up so many opportunities for me. The healthy relationship programme has really opened my eyes to how people control other people. I’d lived that way for so long.”
Staci has now taken control of her life and is keen to learn as much as she can on her own initiative. She has taken domestic violence, rape awareness, keeping children safe and stress management training – including working with Women’s Aid on a ‘Moving On’ programme to cope with the little things in life.
She said: “From the minute it happened I have done nothing but tried. It’s still difficult at times but I can deal with stress much better now. My new partner is a great support. I didn’t think I could ever be happy again – but I am.”
Lorraine said: “When I first met Staci, her self-esteem was very low. Throughout her order, she has grown in confidence and has benefitted from the support of the women’s services available to her. She has been an active group member when attending offence focused programmes and has an eagerness to learn new life skills. She has also been a good support to the other women who attend the centre. I wish her well for the future and hope she achieves her goals.”
Staci, who has had a long-standing interest in the beauty business, is now taking NVQs in Nail Technology and Beauty Massage with a view to starting her own business at the end of 2018.
Her tutor, and owner of the NVQ Nail and Beauty Academy, Amanda Sumner said: “Although Staci started the course a few weeks after everyone else, she soon caught up and has done excellent in her exams. I’m very proud of her.”
Meeting Lorraine was a real turnaround for me. I feel more settled and am moving forward. The communication with Lorraine has been amazing. She has made me believe in myself.
Impressive work at HMP Styal to support women in custody to rehabilitate
"Many of the women released from prison lead chatoic lifestyles"
On 1 May 2015 Through the Gate (TTG) resettlement services went live nationally. Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have since supported the delivery of this service to virtually all prisoners.
HMP Styal, Interserve’s CRCs and partner agencies have been working hard together to provide TTG services. There are 10 women’s prisons in the UK. Styal has capacity for about 440 people, with 80 per cent of the occupants being subject to short sentences.
CGM CRC Chief Executive Chris Edwards said: “It’s fair to say in the past many of the organisations worked in isolation, but there has been a drive toward greater coordination – and that approach is beginning to work.
“Often women in prison have complex needs which can involve drugs, domestic abuse, homelessness and debt. However, if the right package of support can be made, stunning transformations can be achieved.”
Head of reducing reoffending at HMP Styal Anastacia Selby said: “Many of the women released from prison lead chaotic lifestyles and struggle to make appointments with housing agencies, benefits or substance misuse agencies. Social isolation is also a big issue for people trying to make real changes to their lives. But with support, we know that these transformations can be made.”
Joe McKie is one of four of Shelter’s resettlement workers at HMP Styal. His job is to meet every woman within five days of them being admitted to custody to assess their housing need, and to also work with them 12 weeks before release.
He said: “Many of the women I meet are homeless or in unstable accommodation when they arrive at Styal. “Some may have got into debt, be in rent arrears, or have been struck off housing lists due to problems relating to substance misuse and anti-social behaviour.
“We do our best to re-house people. It’s tough, it can require creative thinking, but housing is absolutely crucial to stopping people from re-offending.
“We also focus on resettling the women back into their local communities, such as providing help building support networks. Loneliness can be one of the greatest battles for women leaving Styal, many look upon the prison as their home.”
The CRCs supervise women released into the community on licence and those subject to post sentence supervision in order to support their rehabilitation.
MP Kate Green recently visited HMP Styal to learn more about the work the prison and Interserve’s Community Rehabilitation Companies are doing to help support women preparing for release. The Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston met with Prison Governor Mahala McGuffie and Anastacia Selby, together with Chris Edwards. Kate was on the government’s justice select committee up until May this year, has previously been a magistrate, and has a long-standing commitment to improving the criminal justice system.
She said: “I enjoyed a fascinating visit and was deeply impressed by the work being done to support women preparing for release“I enjoyed a fascinating visit and was deeply impressed by the work being done to support women preparing for release.
“I last visited Styal about five years ago and what struck me is that it feels more hopeful, but that there is still a great deal more that we as a society can do to help support women in custody to rehabilitate.
“However, I was reassured that HMP Styal, the CRCs and partner agencies are working hard together to provide that support.”
Kate was presented with a stunning bouquet of flowers made by prisoners who are studying a horticultural qualification at Styal’s nursery. She also met with representatives from a range of partner agencies including Shelter, CRC’s commissioned resettlement organisation; Women in Prison and the Women’s Support Alliance.
I enjoyed a fascinating visit and was deeply impressed by the work being done to support women preparing for release.
Gary Hill is a ‘better man’ for probation
"I went in with a positive attitude and enjoyed the Community Payback work with CGM CRC. I couldn’t see any downside."
You don’t expect to be on a Community Order at 59, especially when you have never been in trouble with the law before. But that’s what happened to Gary Hill, a retired gas engineer.
A combination of family pressures and alcohol misuse came to a head at Christmas 2016 which resulted in Gary being sentenced to a Community Order for assault, along with a six month Restraining Order.
He was sentenced to 80 hours Community Payback and a period of supervision by the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC). Gary attended 12 sessions of an offending behaviour course for domestic violence offenders, each lasting two hours.
Gary was referred to Intuitive Thinking skills, and is now positive about his future and planning a new handyman business.
He said: “I’d had too much to drink and got involved in a domestic dispute. The police were called, I was charged with common assault and given a six months Restraining Order. This meant that I had to move out of the house which was a real shock to my system.”
But Gary has responded philosophically to his situation. “It’s surprising how many people want to help you. I went in with a positive attitude and enjoyed the Community Payback work with CGM CRC. I couldn’t see any downside.
“I took it as a positive. Although the situation was a kick in the pants, it made me realise that I needed to change. It was a real learning experience. There was a lot going on and I got something out of it.”
He was then referred to Intuitive Thinking Skills, a social enterprise company – thanks to Grant and Innovation Funding – where he has learned valuable life skills and how to set up his own business. He joined course coordinator Chris Kelly’s Intuitive Recovery course which delivers a simple method of achieving meaningful abstinence from alcohol or drugs.
Gary said: “It helped me to understand my feelings better, how to do things differently and to increase my self-awareness. The way Chris gets it over is great. He really made the penny drop.”
Gary also participated in a Skills-Tu Employment course with Intuitive Thinking Skills which included building a tailored CV, business planning interview technique, getting a job, learning on the job and learning new skills.
“Chris has been really encouraging and has gone out of his way to find me helpful information. Although I had worked for a big energy company before, I’d never written a CV or made a business plan.
“I’ve now taken my learning further, researching at my local library into setting up my own business. I’ve always done jobs for the family and have all the tools to be a handyman. But this is about starting a proper business – though it’s early days.”
Gary now meets his CGM CRC Case Manager Nicola Brett once a month and is looking forward to later in the year when his Order will be complete.
“It’s all been good. I am a better man for it.”
Nicola said: “Gary has been highly motivated from the start and has engaged really well with everything that has been required of him. He completed the Unpaid Work very quickly and feedback about his offending behaviour course was very positive. It has been a pleasure to see the progress Gary has made and to hear him talk about how much he has got from this Order. I wish him every success with his new business venture.”
Nicola is pictured with Gary preparing for his new venture.
It’s all been good. I am a better man for it
Sentencer training a hit with Magistrates
Some 40 magistrates attended two joint training days with Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC) and the National Probation Service (NPS) for magistrates who have been in post for less than a year.
It was an opportunity to explain how the two organisations work together, recent developments and to get the perspective of new magistrates.
CGM CRC Business and Project Manager Jenny Archer-Power explained:
“The magistrates had all been in post for 12 months or less but had received some training.”
Jenny gave a Probation overview and outlined the changes since Transforming Rehabilitation with Mary McDonagh, Senior Probation Officer at Manchester City Magistrates Court.
Mary said: “Many of the attendees had never heard of our Intensive Community Order (ICO) and several said that they had not really come across it as a sentencing option in the Courts they had been sitting. So, this was a great opportunity to talk about it and invite Helen Latham, the ICO lead, who presented at the second training event. The ICO requirement will also be raised at all relevant court forums and with senior management to ensure that it is proposed where appropriate.”
Jenny added: “I also spoke about the CRC’s delivery model and how the relationship between the CRC and the NPS works. It was received very positively. The magistrates had limited understanding of the role of probation services and felt the session was really informative.”
Jenny also talked through the services available to the NPS. Treatment Manager Natalie Rhodes addressed the range of accredited programmes offered by CGM CRC to service users.
The benefits of Community Payback and how it works in practice was explained by Community Payback manager Steve Cope with Community Payback placement coordinator Adam Powsney.
A second separate training day covered similar themes including interventions, sex offender provision, high risk work, organised crime, approved premises and ICO – finishing with a Q&A session.
CGM CRC Network Developer Ceri Schofield, who gave an interventions update, said:
“It was a real opportunity to engage with the training day for new magistrates. This enables the CRC to directly promote with sentencers the suite of interventions that we offer to both CRC and NPS service users. This will include providing information about a number of Accredited Programmes that focus on identified needs of service users to assist and support their rehabilitation.”
Senior Probation Officer Sushma Parmar (NPS), who coordinated and introduced both of the events, said: “The briefings were a success and the collaborative approach between the NPS and the CRC worked really well. The input from a NPS service user was so well received that one of the magistrates has since invited him to speak to criminology students at Manchester University.”
The NPS received this feedback from one of the magistrates who attended:
“I just wanted to drop you a brief note to say how good the new JP’s training day with the probation service was. It was well structured and presented. There was a range of speakers from the various NPS, CRC, Community Payback, etc. The input from the ex-urban gang member, who was trying to turn his life around, was particularly powerful. His presentation showed poignantly how some offenders can turn their lives around with input from Probation.”
The input from the ex-urban gang member, who was trying to turn his life around, was particularly powerful. His presentation showed poignantly how some offenders can turn their lives around with input from Probation.”