SUPPORTING VICTIMS, WITNESSES & REDUCING REOFFENDING

 

Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan 2018


This delivery plan cites seven areas of improvement that reinforces the Police and Crime Plan 2017 – 2021.

Lobby for police to be able to insist on high risk individuals being tagged

Lobby for police to be able to insist on high risk individuals being tagged

The PCC wishes to seek Government support for the extension of the use of electronic tags for managing high-risk individuals within the community, particularly those who are under suspicion or investigation but have not yet had formal charges brought against them.

The Commissioner has regularly raised the issue of pre-charge tagging for consideration.

In 2016 the then Lord Chancellor Michael Gove visited Dorset where the PCC lobbied for the mandatory tagging of individuals who have been released after serving jail sentences for committing sex offences against children.

In April 2017, the PCC offered his support to a Voluntary Offender Tagging scheme in operation locally for offenders on probation or released from prison.

He said: “If offenders are genuinely committed to changing, we should support their rehabilitation and encourage their reintegration into the community…

“Imposing a tag as a condition of bail is currently not permitted. The early evidence indicates that this is an area worthy of further consideration.”

Later in 2017, the PCC again set out his case for tagging high risk individuals in a Daily Echo article, drawing on his own policing experience as a senior investigator into the murder of Sarah Payne.

The PCC continues to believe passionately in this approach, which would build further on the 2019 Ministry of Justice rollout of GPS tagging to include the monitoring of suspects on bail. Such location monitoring can be used to:

  • Enforce an exclusion zone – where an offender or individual on bail cannot enter a specific location or area.
  • Keep an offender or individual on bail a given distance from a point or address, including a victim’s address or that of a known criminal associate.
  • Monitor an offender’s attendance at a certain activity – for example work or a rehabilitation programme.
  • Monitor an offender’s movements to support discussions with probation about an offender’s lifestyle and behaviours.

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Explore more behaviour changing courses for offenders

Explore more behaviour changing courses for offenders

A small number of offenders carry out much of the crime that takes place – breaking that cycle is a difficult but crucial challenge.

That is why reducing reoffending formed a key strand of the PCC’s activity during his term of office, and the Police and Crime Plan included a specific ambition to work with partners locally to extend the offer of behaviour changing courses and activities to divert offenders away from lives of crime.

National reoffending statistics for Oct-Dec 2016 highlight the overall reoffending rate as 29.4% - 28.6% among adults and 40.4% among juveniles.

This commitment also links closely with the separate pledges to enhance mentoring services and provision.

Examples of specific work the Commissioner has undertaken to meet this commitment are summarised as follows:

He has provided funding of £30k for Community Circle projects to work with sex offenders, encouraging them to change their behaviour and prevent reoffending. Three projects were commissioned to run during 2019/20.

This has merged with the development of a pilot 'Through the Gate' Circles programme funded by the OPCC and based in HMP The Verne that will start in early 2020 for 18 months. Circles have also secured some Big Lottery funding to support this pilot.

The OPCC has also commissioned the Hampton Trust to deliver the Cautions and Relationship Abuse (CARA) Project working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. CARA workshops provide early intervention designed to target low risk offenders and work with them to prevent reoffending and ensure victim safety. They are offered to perpetrators as part of a conditional caution and are designed to identify and resolve issues before their offending escalates.

The Commissioner has previously provided funding for the Up2U programme working with domestic abuse offenders to address their behaviour while increasing safety and reducing harm to victims and children.

Support has been given to the Driver Awareness Scheme (DAS), a classroom based course delivered by trained driving instructors and road safety professionals, as part of wider road safety activity. Participants are people who have been found committing motoring offences on Dorset’s roads and have been offered the education course as an alternative to a fixed penalty. The course is intended to change behaviour and this is achieved by exploring reasons why people drive in a particular way and providing advice on areas where driver skills need improving.

For female offenders the PCC has funded the Footprints pilot scheme to provide an experienced support worker to support female offenders across Dorset to reduce their re-offending. Footprints will mentor, provide support, and ensure the female is safeguarded and has access to services.

Through the Community Grant Scheme the PCC has also provided funding for a Victim Awareness Course, aimed at low-level offenders diverted from court via the police through a conditional caution or community resolution. This started in April 2019 when Dorset Police implemented a new Out Of Court Disposal system, seeks to affect offending behaviour by making perpetrators fully appreciative of the impact of their actions on their victims.

More generally, the Commissioner contributes funding towards the Youth Offending Service, Safe Schools and Communities Team and the Restorative Dorset restorative justice service – all of which provide valuable interventions, education, diversion and support with the aim of moving offenders away from criminal activity.

Although it can be challenging to evaluate the total impact of this work, feedback from service users, partner agencies and the Force is that this work has had a positive effect on those involved.

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Establish a repeat Victims Champion who will work with difficult cases

Establish a repeat Victims Champion who will work with difficult cases

A small number of victims of crime are repeatedly targeted, causing huge amounts of psychological stress for these individuals.

In setting this commitment, the PCC acknowledged Dorset Police had made significant improvements in identifying repeat victims of crime and implementing measures to escalate interventions where a victim continued to be targeted.

However, in line with the wider pledge to keep Dorset as one of the safest places in the UK, the PCC pledged to appoint a Victims Champion to further improve the response for repeat victims and co-ordinate the police and partner response to more complex cases, making sure this approach is consistent.

In early 2017, the PCC announced a new Victims’ Champion for Dorset on an initial 12 month basis. The role was designed to ensure victims were provided with the support and information they needed to navigate the criminal justice system. It also played a significant co-ordination role in implementing the Victim Code of Practice and monitoring compliance.

The Victims Champion worked closely with the Victims Bureau, which the PCC had implemented during his first term of office, Victim Support – the support service contracted by the PCC for Dorset – and the Witness Care Unit.

The champion also worked with external service providers to make improvements and deliver greater consistency to the support offered to victims and witnesses of crime. The decision was subsequently taken to extend the role for a further 12 months into early 2019 to continue the progress made, particularly with regard to implementing Victims’ Code measures.

The ongoing impact of austerity and funding pressures meant the role could not be extended further beyond the initial two years. However, the Victims’ Bureau structure has since been revised to enable the organisation’s manager to take up the Victims Champion portfolio as part of their role. This arrangement will be kept under review during the remainder of the term to ensure it is fit for purpose.

More recently, in the summer of 2019, the PCC has also taken on the Chair of the Victims and Witnesses Sub-Group of the Dorset Criminal Justice Board. This has given him a direct influence over the co-ordination of victim support services and monitoring the application of the Victims Code locally.  

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Lobby the Government to sponsor a pilot Victims' Lawyer scheme

Lobby the Government to sponsor a pilot Victims' Lawyer scheme

This commitment was set at a time when it was anticipated that a Victims Law would progress through Parliament and potentially facilitate victim representation within the court room.

However, with national progress on the Victims Law having stalled, the focus of this work has switched to providing vulnerable victims with enhanced support up to the point of any court hearing to assist them in giving the most robust evidence possible and to influence criminal justice outcomes accordingly.

Upon re-election in 2016, the PCC pledged to lobby the Government to sponsor a pilot scheme in Dorset for a Victims’ Lawyer to support vulnerable victims at court. This individual would ensure victims are aware of their rights and the criminal justice process, prepare them for court, and in doing so, allow victims to give the best evidence possible, thus strengthening the prospect of a conviction.

The failure for the anticipated Victims’ Law to pass into legislation has hindered work to provide this direct support for victims within the court room. However, the PCC was determined to provide support for vulnerable victims attending court. Following careful research and consultation with criminal justice agencies, he therefore proposed to introduce a Complainant Liaison Officer (CLO) pilot in Dorset.

The PCC was successful in the bid for Home Office funding to scope and run a CLO pilot. The scoping work commenced in October 2018 and a vital part of the scoping process included taking informal legal advice from the judiciary and criminal justice agencies.

This due diligence was completed in February 2019, and has helped develop a pilot that links with existing services, is scalable, and which will address one or more of the identified ways to improve the victims’ journey.

A project was developed to pilot a CLO role, based within the court building, but outside the courtroom. The pilot started in 2019 with one CLO working between Poole Magistrates Court and Bournemouth Crown Court.

The CLO provides information relating to the criminal justice process and provides explanations of legal terminology in an easy, accessible and understandable format that the victim can understand. The CLO ensures victims are aware of and are receiving their entitlements under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.

This is a personal, tailored approach supporting services already available from Witness Care and the Witness Service. The vulnerable victim or witness is introduced to the CLO at the initial stage of attending court and the CLO is available onsite to answer any queries or address any concerns. As well as a face-to-face service, the CLO is also able to provide a telephone or online service that provides further accessibility.

The pilot is still in its early stages but some benefits have already been realised:

  • Victims have provided feedback that the CLO should be available to all victims and witnesses attending court.
  • Victims appreciated the clear and easy to understand explanations provided by the CLO.
  • Victims reported they were not satisfied with the contact received by criminal justice agencies and welcomed the additional support the CLO could provide.
  • A closer working relationship with criminal justice agencies has been established.
  • A process has been established to manage the common issues reported by victims.

As expected with any pilot, there are still challenges to overcome. However, the project has proven to be an extremely valuable exercise in undertaking a detailed review of the current criminal justice system structures and processes in Dorset and how additional and valuable support for vulnerable victims progressing through the court system can be delivered through the CLO concept.

While it is still too early to appreciate the full impact and benefits of the introduction of a CLO in Dorset, the pilot has been well received both by criminal justice agencies and victims attending court. Early indications are also that officers and police staff appreciate the availability and benefits of the CLO.

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Retendering the victim support services contract

Retendering the victim support services contract

PCCs are responsible for the commissioning of victim support services within their force area.

Martyn Underhill was an early adopter, first awarding a contract in 2014 to Victim Support for three years and subsequently taking up options to extend for a further two years. The re-tendering process for this contract therefore began in October 2019.

Throughout 2019, the OPCC for Dorset carried out a tender process for the commissioning of support for victims across Dorset.

As part of the tender process, the OPCC undertook market engagement to encourage providers to come forward to bid for the contract. The market engagement was also designed to encourage collaboration between smaller support organisations to develop service provision for victims of crime throughout Dorset.

August 2019 saw the end of the tender process and the OPCC recommissioned Victim Support to run the support for victims of crime service for another three years. The £1.6m contract, which started on October 1 2019, means the charity will continue to provide practical and emotional support to people affected by crime.

Victim Support will also provide an enhanced service for victims of ‘standard’ risk domestic abuse, which will include support from a dedicated caseworker, over the phone or in person, for as long as the victim requires. Specialist teams within Dorset Police, Dorset Council and BCP Council provide separate support services for victims of higher risk domestic abuse.

Although the charity has provided support to domestic abuse victims in Dorset previously, they will now have a larger team dedicated to working specifically with people affected by this crime. Victim Support will be establishing new group support sessions for domestic abuse victims and setting up drop in services across the county to ensure support is accessible for all.

Martyn Underhill became the first PCC in the country to award a local victims’ contract when Victim Support was commissioned to provide the service in 2014. Since 2014, the OPCC has worked closely with Victim Support to develop the services to victims of crime.

In 2018/19, Victim Support Dorset created 16,600 cases from referrals from Dorset Police. Any new victim of standard risk domestic abuse crime is offered emotional and practical support delivered by Victim Support. The support they provide is free, confidential, and tailored to meet the victim’s needs, enabling the victim to re-build their lives and cope and recover from the impact of crime.

Victims of crime have praised the support they have received in Dorset, with feedback including:

 “My caseworker was very helpful. She gave me her office phone number, and I felt more connected. I felt I could reach someone who understood my situation, meaning I didn’t have to revisit it whilst explaining to someone else. She helped me rationalise my thoughts.”

 “My support worker was amazing. He called every time he said he would and really went the extra mile for me. He didn’t rush any conversations and spent plenty of time with me.”

 “Victim Support have been great – I couldn’t have got through it without them.”

 The OPCC meets regularly with Victim Support to monitor service delivery, improve processes and identify further opportunities.

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Explore ways to reduce reoffending through mentoring

Explore ways to reduce reoffending through mentoring

The PCC is a major advocate of mentoring support as an effective tool in contributing to reducing reoffending or diverting from offending in the first place. The commitment reflects a desire to explore opportunities to enhance and expand the mentoring offer in Dorset where possible. This ambition also links with training and education opportunities and other commitments relating to diversionary activities.

This commitment has seen a number of strands of activity across a broad range of vulnerable groups, and often links with other commitments made by the Commissioner.

For children and young people at risk of offending or reoffending, the PCC has overseen the development and implementation of a Police Cadets Scheme in Dorset, with two units already launched and further expansion planned.

The scheme provides guidance to those who may be on the cusp of criminal behaviour, and there are examples of young people whose lives have been turned around after joining cadet units in other parts of the country. The sessions also provide fun activities for a wider group of young people, boosting their confidence and enabling them to play a positive role in their communities.  

Experienced and skilled volunteer leaders provide support, guidance and leadership to the cadets. Following some dedicated work to tackle anti social behaviour in Poole, the Commissioner also agreed to fund the Pop Up Youth Club initiative as a diversionary activity and means of engaging with younger people on the fringes of offending.

A further three initiatives have also been commissioned with a focus on children and young people:

 

  • Action for Children to provide ongoing one-to-one mentoring support for young people.
  • The AIM Community offering a range of interventions starting with one-to-one mentoring then moving into peer group work with a focus on creative and outdoor activities and art, drama and cookery therapy.
  • Wiseability delivering a bespoke programme for individuals not in education, employment or training (NEETs), in development with the Youth Offending Service (YOS) and part funded through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the European Social Fund.

 

We also continue to work with the AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust following the success of their pilot initiative in Bournemouth, with a view to developing and implementing more widely across the county.

The Commissioner’s veteranswork has included support for a number of support and mentoring organisations including the Jailhouse Café, SSAFA and the Weymouth Veterans Hub. We also continue to work with Portland Prison and the Ministry of Justice to develop a dedicated ‘veterans community’ within the prison to provide mentoring and peer support to inmates.

For female offenders the PCC has funded the Footprints pilot scheme to provide an experienced female support worker to support female offenders across Dorset to reduce their re-offending. Footprints will mentor, provide support, and ensure the female is safeguarded and has access to services.

The PCC has funded three Community Circles by Circles South West from April 2019, working with sex offenders to change their behaviours, minimise risk and prevent reoffending.

Through his Community Grant Scheme the Commissioner has also provided funding for a number of smaller and more locally based initiatives, including:

  • Longmead Community Farm – supporting disadvantaged families and young people in crisis.
  • Purbeck Tackling Life – football/DJ diversionary activities.
  • Footprints Reducing Reoffending Project – mentoring of 200 ex-offenders in Dorset.
  • Making Good / Jailhouse Café – Portland Prison employment and mentoring schemes.
  • Christchurch Activities for Young People (CAYP) – supporting Youth Achievement Awards and Duke of Edinburgh schemes.

 

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Expand tagging of offenders in Dorset

Expand tagging of offenders in Dorset

This Commitment supports the PCC’s ambition of expanding the use of electronic tags as a tool for managing offenders in the community and assisting with rehabilitation and addressing offending behaviour.

The Dorset Police Integrated Offender Management (IOM) team deal with up to 80 of the most prolific local offenders. These are often acquisitive crime offenders with a higher risk of offending but lower risk of threat of physical harm to others, but the team does also work with other types of offenders.

The IOM works alongside a number of agencies, including those dealing with drugs, housing, as well as the probation service, to manage offenders. They also liaise with offender managers within the prison service. Where necessary, they can gather intelligence on offenders and organise Force activity targeting prolific offenders who don’t reform. Officers on the team try to maintain a one-to-one relationship with offenders, with a view to preventing further crimes being committed.

One of the tools available is the use of GPS tagging. These are placed on offenders on a voluntary basis and monitor their location 24/7, saving the police time and resources. Although voluntary, a GPS tag serves to benefit both the police and the offender wearing it. Various parts of an offender's licence conditions can be relaxed if they opt to wear a tag and it allows them to build trust with the police and partner agencies. It also deters offending, as offenders know they can be monitored, and in a few cases where bail conditions have been breached, evidence from the tags can help in court.

The IOM team currently manage around 20 tags. The PCC has worked closely with the Force to increase awareness of the work of the IOM team and the availability of GPS tags as a proactive tool to manage offenders and reduce crime.

The Chief Constable has also agreed to the PCC’s request for a trial of alternative tags within the IOM team. Two providers have been identified as potentially more technologically advanced than the tags currently used locally. A six-month pilot was launched in summer 2019, with the Chief Constable agreeing to provide some additional resource to facilitate this.

The pilot is due to finish in January 2020 and the final evaluation will make recommendations for the future use of GPS tags in Dorset. The report will also recognise any new technological developments currently emerging, and will evaluate the use of a very small number of proximity tags that can be used in domestic abuse and stalking cases.

Alongside the work occurring locally, in February 2019 the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced the national rollout of new GPS tags to provide 24/7 location monitoring of offenders. Location monitoring can be used to alert when offenders enter specific locations or addresses, monitoring their trail and including a curfew condition.

The MoJ has briefed Dorset Police on the use of these new tags, but they have not been specifically allocated to Dorset as the scheme is being managed nationally. The PCC will monitor these arrangements and their effectiveness in complementing local offender management processes.

A regional procurement exercise for the purchase of new tags was set up in autumn 2018 and the OPCC has been engaged and able to inform the process. This is now on hold until early 2020, to await the outcome of the pilot project funded by the Dorset PCC.

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Expand restorative justice so victims can meet offenders in prison

Expand restorative justice so victims can meet offenders in prison

Restorative Justice (RJ) is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of victims and lets victims tell offenders the real impact of their crime and holds offenders, whether young people or adults, directly accountable.

Working with the Safer Poole Partnership, the PCC funded the Restorative Dorset service which launched in September 2017, introducing a service across the county. This built on the previous Neighbourhood Justice Panel (NJP) approach that had only been in place in some areas.

The service offers two types of restorative intervention:

  • Restorative mediation provides a platform for members of conflicted communities to move forward and improve their quality of life. It can be used in situations such as neighbourhood disputes, where all parties will agree on the outcomes.
  •  Restorative justice offers victims the opportunity to meet offenders and explain the full extent of the impact of their crimes. The service is already widely available for victims of crimes committed by young people and the project will be the first pan-Dorset service for victims of crimes committed by adults.

This service can be used for all types of crime and the facilitated meetings can be highly beneficial for both parties. Outcomes typically include an apology, financial compensation, or simply a platform to ask questions and get answers. Giving victims a voice in this way has been shown to improve their ability to gain closure and move on.

Offenders involved in the process have been able to mend some of the damage caused by their crimes. They have also been seen to engage with programmes that address underlying problems such as alcohol or drug misuse. This has had a positive impact on their risk of reoffending.

At the launch the PCC said: “By bringing together victims and offenders, the service explores a more sustainable solution to crime, empowering victims to share their experiences in a way that helps their own development. It also holds offenders to account, encouraging them both to reflect on their behaviour and look ahead to a life outside of crime.”

More than 160 cases had been referred to Restorative Dorset up to the end of November 2019, and they have been working with prisons across the South West to arrange cases between victims and adult offenders.

The cases they’ve dealt with so far include burglaries, criminal damage, hate crime and violent crime, including armed robbery, GBH, domestic abuse and sexual assault. They’ve also dealt with road traffic incidents – one of which had a life changing impact on the victim.

Commissioned for three years initially, they are now focussing on working with agencies to promote the service, increase the number of referrals they deal with and increase their capacity to support sensitive cases including sexual harm and domestic abuse. The PCC will continue to monitor this service throughout the remainder of his term of office.

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Improve the efficiency of courts

Improve the efficiency of courts

Victims and witnesses are often nervous about attending court, so it can be immensely frustrating when cases are delayed – leading some to think the court system does not care about them.

This commitment sets out the PCC’s ambition to work with partners to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of court processes, particularly reducing the impact on victims and witnesses and assisting in keeping them fully engaged to achieve positive outcomes.

The initial focus was on the practice of double and triple listing cases at court and the problems this can cause for victims when cases are delayed.

However, from a HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMTCS) perspective, with a shrinking estate and limited time available, double or triple listing cases is a legitimate means of maximising court sessions given the multitude of reasons why a case may not progress as anticipated, such as late guilty pleas or failure of victims or witnesses to attend.

Therefore the PCC has sought to work with Dorset Criminal Justice Board (DCJB) partners to look at process improvements to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of court room provision – the commitment has therefore been amended to reflect this position.

Through raising concerns and working with partners on the DCJB, particularly HMCTS, the PCC has been able to influence a number of service improvements.

In terms of timeliness of court hearings, additional Weymouth Magistrates trial courts have been implemented and some ‘non-trial’ courts converted to trial courts in Poole.

This saw a reduction of outstanding magistrates’ cases from 453 in February 2018 to 272 by December 2018, and with further progress anticipated in 2019.

Concerns were also highlighted over insufficient court dates available for youth justice cases. This was specifically acknowledged as a problem in Poole and by May 2019 there had been an increase from two youth courts every eight weeks, to three in eight weeks as a result, with an anticipated further increase to roughly one per fortnight in due course.

HMCTS also continue to work with the Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service over the potential to reduce adjournments for requests for written pre-sentence reports and for the youth offending service to give an oral report on the day instead.

A further initiative led by the DCJB to improve efficiency is a pilot that has been running for a number of months to fast track drink drivers through the court system. While still relatively new, anecdotally this has proven very successful with offenders being processed through court within approximately eight days of the offence. This in turn means the most serious offenders are being taken off the roads much more quickly.

Latest data from January to October 2019 includes:

  • 266 cases of drink driving
  • 87% of cases finalised at first hearing within 7-9 days (disqualifications and fines issued)

Through the DCJB and by chairing the Victims & Witnesses Sub-Group, the PCC will continue to challenge all criminal justice system agencies over their performance and services delivered to victims of crime, and work with them to problem solve and drive service improvements such as those highlighted here.

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Expand neighbourhood justice panels across Dorset

Expand neighbourhood justice panels across Dorset

Restorative Justice (RJ) is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of victims and offenders, letting victims tell offenders the real impact of their crime.

RJ holds offenders, whether young people or adults, directly accountable to their victims and can bring them together in a facilitated meeting. It can be used at any stage of a crime and for any type of crime, but each case must be looked at in detail to assess the risks involved in holding these meetings.

For RJ to take place, the offender must have accepted responsibility, and all participation is voluntary.

During his first term of office, the PCC funded Neighbourhood Justice Panel pilot schemes in West Dorset and Poole to implement RJ. A commitment for his second term was to work with partners to expand this to cover the rest of Dorset.

This commitment is inextricably linked with another pledge to expand the use of RJ meetings, and the desire to expand this approach to include victims and convicted offenders in prison.

This has culminated in the launch of the pan-Dorset Restorative Dorset Service in September 2017, funded for three years by the PCC.

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Pick up services such as peer and public mentoring

Pick up services such as peer and public mentoring

The probation service was part privatised in 2014, creating a system that was seen as struggling to deliver services such as mentoring.

Then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling implemented his Transforming Rehabilitation reforms in 2014. This saw the National Probation Service (NPS) deal with high risk offenders while sub-regional Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were responsible for medium and low-risk offenders

This part privatisation model introduced an element of payment by results for CRCs but the reforms have been widely condemned as a failure, most notably by the Chief Probation Inspector Dame Glenys Stacey and the National Audit Office.

Upon re-election in 2016, the PCC highlighted concerns around the ability of the Dorset, Devon & Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company (DDC CRC) to deliver effective mentoring services as part of a wider range of measures to reduce reoffending. He sought to work with the provider to address these, but ongoing difficulties, challenges and uncertainty over the probation arrangements locally and nationally have prevented any genuine progress in this area.

The DDC CRC received a damning inspection report in February 2019, and operators Working Links entered into administration shortly afterwards. Seetec, the existing Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC provider, has since taken over its operation.

This followed the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) decision to terminate all current 21 CRC contracts two years early as part of a review of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, looking to repackage the CRC contract areas and reviewing what future arrangements would look like.

A South West Regional Reducing Reoffending Board, chaired by Avon & Somerset PCC Sue Mountstevens was formed, and has been actively lobbying for full PCC engagement in the MoJ review. In particular, it sought to run a pilot regionally whereby all probation services be brought back under one single organisation, as is the agreed model for Wales.

In May 2019, the MoJ announced the supervision of all offenders on probation will be brought back into the public sector, thus reversing the 2014 changes. Under the new system, which will come into effect in December 2020, staff from the NPS, based in 11 new regions, will monitor released prisoners and those serving community sentences. Each area will then have a dedicated private or voluntary sector partner, responsible for unpaid work schemes, drug misuse programmes and training courses.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of Seetec wrote to the PCC in July 2019 to provide reassurance regarding the current CRC arrangements. Improvements include the implementation of a planned new operating model from November 2019, a recruitment drive to fill a number of existing staff vacancies, a proposed salary uplift and enhanced training for staff, and the refurbishment of unsuitable office accommodation.

The PCC will continue to play an active role on the regional board, seeking to influence the planned changes to probation service provision in the coming years. The PCC will also remain engaged with the CRC, primarily through the Dorset Criminal Justice Board, to ensure current arrangements operate as effectively as possible ahead of the future reforms.

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Extend AFC Bournemouth referral scheme to include young offenders

Extend AFC Bournemouth referral scheme to include young offenders

The commitment builds on a relationship initially developed with the AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust, the charitable arm of Premier League football club AFC Bournemouth (AFCB), towards the end of his first term of office. The PCC agreed to work with them to explore the possibility of extending their work with young people locally to include offenders or those on the cusp of offending behaviour.

In early 2018 the OPCC started working with the club to develop a scheme. Following initial conversations it became apparent that AFCB didn’t feel they had the capacity to offer a programme for young offenders, but could support young people coming to the attention of school pastoral care due to poor attendance, exhibiting offending behaviours or involvement with criminal activities.

Following these meetings AFCB carried out a seven week pilot with 12 young people aged between 13 and 15 from the Bourne Academy. The young people involved were provided with transport to the stadium and other locations to ensure engagement from those who may not be able to travel themselves.

The pilot carried out support in areas such as confidence building, communications skills, team working, community engagement and personal safety.

It also included inputs from external agencies such as DWFRS and first aid trainers Ouch Training. The result of this pilot was that Bourne Academy reported 10 of the 12 participants were exhibiting improved behaviour and attendance at school. The young people were asked to complete survey forms on completion of the course and 60% reported improved attendance at school, and 50% reported improved behaviour outside school.

 

 

Following on from the pilot, AFCB have been successful in applying to the Premier League for funding for this scheme, securing funding for a two year period. They are carrying out work to expand the programme to more schools across Bournemouth and Poole.

The PCC continues to work with AFCB with the intention to expand the project across the rest of Dorset.

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Research into whether custody environment can be improved

Research into whether custody environment can be improved

Police custody is a dynamic, fast-paced and often challenging area. Those entering and detained in custody are often at the lowest point in their lives and experiencing a number of issues. Similarly, custody staff are under pressure to maintain a safe and secure environment.

With that in mind, the PCC agreed to work with Bournemouth University on a project researching the current Dorset Police custody suite environment with a view to identifying any recommendations or actions that could be implemented to further improve safety and reduce any risks or pressures for police officers, staff and detainees.

During the summer of 2019, the project saw semi-structured interviews take place with a voluntary sample of detainees held in Dorset custody suites. Individuals were asked about their experiences on entering custody, communication with staff, the detention cells, and food/drink and amenities.

Coupled with other research studies and localised projects, a number of common themes and issues were identified, including:

  • The bland decoration of cells in plain white, prompting irritation and boredom.
  • A lack of awareness of time negatively affecting emotions and prompting anxiety.
  • A lack of activities such as reading to pass the time, prompting irritation and anger’.

Clearly there are limits to the scope of the changes that can be made to custody suites to ensure they remain compliant with national guidelines, remain safe and are not subject to significant cost or restructuring.

However, the project did identify a number of relatively simple steps which have been implemented to improve the environment. These include:  

  • Using the annual maintenance period at Bournemouth Custody Suite to facilitate the painting of cells in a different, calming colour.
  • The purchase of a selection of books with suitable themes, and including easy to read, large print and puzzle books, to help with reducing boredom and anxiety.
  • The purchase of a small number of accessories – such as foam footballs and fidget cubes – which have been successfully trialled elsewhere to reduce anxiety. Usage is considered on an individual basis subject to the appropriate risk assessment for the detainee.

The Commissioner agreed to fund the trial of these relatively simple measures and will conduct a review of the project after an appropriate period of time to evaluate their success.

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