Welcome to our fifth publication for sentencers. In this edition:
- A foreword by chief executive Kim Thornden-Edwards
- New brief interventions and RARs
- Natasha’s story
Dear Judicial Colleagues,
I write at a time when the Government has outlined its intentions for probation after the current Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) contracts come to an end – confirmed now as spring 2021. I’d like to take this opportunity to underline to you all our ongoing commitment to keeping services on track to deliver the sentences you impose, against this backdrop of further change.
As you can imagine, whilst having clarity of direction is helpful, it is unsettling for our staff and we will do all we can to keep our people focused on the job in hand. With just under two years to go, it is important we plan and work to minimise disruption and I see our ongoing development of behaviour change interventions as a key part of this. We intend to continue to build and develop an increased range of modern and diverse options available to the courts.
CRC employees are ‘probation people’, many long serving, who will continue to work in probation into the future. It is in this context that we see our activity now as being relevant to the long term wellbeing of the Criminal Justice System.
This edition of the Sentencers’ Newsletter sets out the growing range of interventions designed to reduce reoffending. Some are services commissioned from providers outside the CRC, but a number have been developed in-house using best practice principles and knowledge. We are proud of the work that has gone into these interventions and excited by the potential impact of them, in particular, for Rehabilitation Activity Requirements. We are committed to continuing to develop them as we gather evidence through their implementation.
I look forward to CRC staff having increased levels of contact with sentencers over the next two years, and to the mutual benefits that greater transparency and familiarity will bring.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight CRC chief executive officer
New brief interventions and RARs
The Hampshire & Isle of Wight CRC is rolling out a new range of rehabilitation activities as part of the organisation’s approach to delivering interventions.
The interventions have been developed by a team of experienced staff from across the CRC. They have taken an evidence-led approach and assimilated desistance theory into the design of all of the interventions.
In total 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirements and 17 Brief Interventions will come on line over the coming months. Interventions tackling victim awareness, emotional management, thinking skills and domestic abuse are being prioritised for the first wave of roll out, which has already begun.
Interventions can be used to fulfill the requirements of Rehabilitation Activities or licence and Post Sentence Supervision activity.
The brief intervention suite has been developed to provide purposeful interventions to service users who have less complex needs and are assessed as a lower risk of causing serious harm and/or reoffending.
Barbara Swyer, community director, said: “We have developed a range of interventions each of which has a specific focus and can be undertaken as a standalone activity or as part of a package tailored for each service user.
“This reflects a central tenet of desistance theory, which says interventions are more likely to be effective when they are targeted to help support an individual’s personal growth and social integration.
Some interventions are more intense in terms of delivery than others and based on evidence that shows people respond best to behavioural change programmes that reflect their level of offending.”
Our RAR Interventions
HELP is a 15-session group work programme aimed at domestic abuse perpetrators or those individuals who have difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships.
STAR is an eight-session group work programme aiming to explore and raise awareness of the hidden victim/impact of shop theft. This intervention will increase consequential thinking and reduce further offending behaviour.
Better Solutions is an eight-session group work programme aimed at improving the individual’s thinking skills to avoid further offending. It raises awareness of the importance of clear and constructive thinking and helps the person to understand the links between thoughts/feelings and behaviours. It explores emotional management, perspective taking, communication skills and encourages a pro-social lifestyle.
Impact to Change is a generic victim awareness intervention based on restorative justice approaches, which encourages the individual to explore the impact of their offending behaviour on their victims to reduce the number of victims in the future.
Managing Emotions is an eight-session group work programme that aims to improve anger management to support positive, offence-free lifestyles and healthy relationships. This intervention will increase the individual’s understanding of anger, improve their self-awareness, develop emotional recognition, emotional expression and increase resilience.
Natasha French (pictured on the right with case manager Andrea Stace) has found probation such a positive experience that she is planning to volunteer as a mentor when she completes her order.
The mum-of-two, who lives in Basingstoke, was sentenced to a 12 months suspended sentence, two months curfew and 15 RAR days for credit card fraud. Natasha says the support she has received from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight CRC has given her new found confidence and a positive attitude to life.
Natasha has a number of mental health conditions such as bi-polar disorder and has suffered from anxiety. Whilst she has always coped with her mental health, Natasha’s life had mainly revolved around looking after her sons, leaving her socially isolated.
The 33-year-old is supervised by case manager, Lynda Souter, who carried out home visits initially to discuss her sentence plan and appropriate activities for her 15 RAR days, starting firstly with weekly attendance at the Basingstoke women’s group.
Natasha said: “Initially I was very anxious about attending a group, I was shy and nervous but I soon found it was a supportive place to be. And now I love it. Everyone can talk about their situation and ask for advice. Overcoming my initial fears at going to the women’s centre gave me a real boost of confidence.
“Through the women’s group I heard about User Voice, a charity which collects the views of people on probation about what is working well and ideas on how to improve it. I signed up as a volunteer and now I go into reception areas and speak to people there.
“Then I got involved in the probation allotment project. I’m busy with all these things and I love it. I can see how having structure in my week helps me. I’m less anxious and I’m achieving things I set my mind to. I’ve started to decorate my home and contact people. Previously it would take me days to pick up the phone but now I can do it. I feel like an adult at last.
“Lynda is my main case manager, but they are all lovely to me. I also meet Andrea at the allotment and Louise at the women’s centre, I can see they are very busy but they give me time and take an interest in me.”
Case manager, Andrea Stace said: “It’s wonderful to see Natasha’s confidence and interest in the allotment. She’s become really proactive and is a positive member of the women’s group.”
Photo caption: left to right – case manager, Andrea Stace with service user and User Voice volunteer, Natasha French