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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