Foreword by Chief Executive Chris Edwards
I am delighted to welcome you to the first edition of our new look sentencer publication Changing Lives.
It is now more than two years since the Community Rehabilitation Companies were launched. We have been through a process of significant transformation and, whilst the changes continue, we are beginning to stabilise the organisation.
We have now embedded new ways of working supported by modern technology and we are refreshing the delivery of our operating model Interchange with further training for our staff – having brought in a number of new starters over recent months.
We believe we are now better equipped to offer the best possible service – both in terms of rigorously delivering the sentence you make at court and supporting offenders to successfully complete their order or licence, and in making those first steps toward rehabilitation.
It has been – and remains – a challenging environment, but we are determined to establish a permanent and well trained workforce in which you can have confidence; and a workforce that delivers excellent probation services.
We are proud to share with you examples of our successes, the latest news about initiatives we are rolling out and updates about our work. One such example in this publication is the announcement that we will be launching Breaking Free and Pillars of Recovery as two interventions aimed at supporting offenders to stop misusing drugs. We have also relaunched our websites and hope that it contains information which will be valuable to you.
We are committed to developing our relationship with sentencers from across Cheshire and Greater Manchester. If you have any questions, please contact us via Community Director Stuart Tasker ([email protected]). If you would welcome a meeting or presentation from my team, we would be delighted to arrange it.
Womens’ Strategy Board
A significant step has been taken to address the lack of women’s only services provision in Cheshire.
The creation of a Women’s Strategy Board, via the Cheshire Criminal Justice Board, aims to plug the gap for women offenders. This work will be progressed through the Reducing Reoffending Board.
The Board consists of representatives from the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, the National Probation Service (NPS), Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC), Cheshire’s Youth Justice Service, four local authorities, HMP Styal, Cheshire Fire and Rescue, and the Pan-Cheshire Complex Dependency programmes team.
We need to agree some fundamental principles around working with women, commissioning services and creating a suitable and workable space for agencies to meet with women within our local communities. This is a really positive step forward.
The Board is looking at how we can join up services and provide a safe space for women – both within the Criminal Justice Service and in the community – to assess and address womens’ needs.
Donna Yates, CGM CRC’s Community Director, said: “We still have some way to go, but conversations and actions are already very positive and there is lots of high level planning taking place. Meanwhile, Cheshire Fire & Rescue has secured funding to run a female only Prince’s Trust programme, which was due to commence in May.
Donna added: “This will be a really positive start to our work and will enable us to showcase the benefits of working together to address the needs of our women and to provide them with the opportunity to explore and overcome their issues; improving their own self-confidence and ability to deal with challenging situations.
“This is an exciting opportunity for all involved and will be the first of its kind nationally. It is a great platform to launch our intentions to other organisations and operational staff.”
Probation helps Tammie unlock a bright future
“I didn’t want to go back to jail”
Tammie Foy has come full circle since serving a prison sentence for fraud to now starting work for the probation service.
When she was 25 she suffered from post-natal depression. Tammie believes this was the trigger for a spate of shop-lifting and then fraud.
She was given a 16-month custodial sentence on 23 December 2014.
Tammie said: “Shop-lifting was a cry for help. I got into a revolving circle of offending. But my real low point was being sent to prison just before Christmas, leaving my four children and a seriously ill father behind.
“I’d expected a suspended sentence and didn’t even have an overnight bag with me.
“But jail gave me a chance to reflect and was probably the best experience I’ve ever had. I also had a great probation officer who I believe helped change my life. Life had got too much for me. I used the experience positively, got on with the prison officers and took every opportunity to become better qualified.”
Tammie was released after four months, with a tag, and completed her licence in April 2016. She was introduced by her probation officer Dave Wilson to Achieve North West – an organisation looking to improve the employment prospects of offenders by bridging the gaps to mainstream education, skills and employment services.
Tammie said: “I didn’t want to go back to jail and I had four children I needed to look after. I couldn’t blame anybody for what I had done.”
I also had a great probation officer who I believe helped change my life
Tammie then worked with the Apex Charitable Trust, which provides opportunities for unemployed people with a criminal record living in Merseyside.
“I worked with women trying to get back into education and work. What’s good, what’s bad. Giving them the tools.”
Tammie was told about User Voice and was keen to get involved. Formed in partnership with CGM CRC in 2016, and run by former service users, it’s committed to ensuring offenders are given a voice and that services are improved. She says she has been inspired by the work they do.
Tammie said: “I really believe people can change. User Voice is making massive changes to the way that service users are heard including personalisation. Speaking from experience, I had a real say in service users’ experiences of probation.”
Tammie was subsequently invited to address Service User Council meetings across the North West of England. And because of the impact she made, she was recently invited for interview for a newly created Community Support Navigator role with the CGM CRC.
She added: “Getting an interview was amazing. It was the proudest moment of my life when I was actually chosen. I will be looking at what agencies can be put in place especially for women. I am not going to let anyone down. This is a career.”
How are we performing?
For the last quarter, CGM CRC was ranked first out of the 21 CRCs for the successful completion of licenses – a yearly average of 81% (against a target of 65%) and never dipping below the monthly target for the full year.
For the year, CGM’s completion rate for Community Orders and Suspended Sentence Orders was 80% (75%), with 5095 orders successfully completing. CGM completed 2710 Unpaid Work requirements within 12 months of sentence with an overall completion rate of 89% – a fraction below the target of 90%. And CGM exceeded the RAR delivery target for the 12-month period with 93% (90%).
CEO Chris Edwards said: “Although there is always room for improvement, we are confident that we can build on these encouraging performance figures.”