How Norfolk Police has helped tackle reoffending in recent years

One of backpacks provided to homeless offenders on their release from HMP Norwich. Photo: Loving by

One of backpacks provided to homeless offenders on their release from HMP Norwich. Photo: Loving by Giving - Credit: Archant

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green writes in response to our March 21 article 'Prisoners given 'urban survival kit' to help them prepare for homelessness'

I would like to draw to your attention some of the key initiatives my office has been involved in during my time as Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner to help tackle reoffending.

The annual cost of reoffending in the UK is estimated at £7-10 billion. However the economic cost alone of reoffending does not take into account the adverse impact on victims, the public and communities. There are currently over 83,000 people in prison across the UK, and more than half will offend again when they come out.

In Norfolk, we have recently refreshed a Reducing Reoffending Strategy, which sets out how criminal justice agencies and other partners will work together in the short and long term to reduce reoffending and further develop a partnership approach to early intervention. I am committed to bringing together local partners to prevent and reduce reoffending, through my responsibility for the totality of policing in Norfolk, and my role in local partnership working in relation to criminal justice, community safety and beyond.

The Reducing Reoffending Board, of which I am chair, oversees the delivery of the strategy locally, as well as linking in the local work with the national agenda. Reducing Reoffending is a major priority for me, and one in which I have invested substantial time and resources. In particular:

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Securing funding for the WONDER scheme, which is a whole system approach to rehabilitating female offenders and supporting women at risk of offending. This county wide diversionary approach offers a targeted intervention for women at risk of entering the Criminal Justice System (CJS), utilising a number of diversionary points.

During WONDER's 12-month period of pilot operation (28 February 2017 – 28 February 2018), 131 women were referred to the scheme and offered some support. Results demonstrate:

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Women who were supported had extensive needs and these needs were successfully addressed.

Resources were targeted at those who need the most support and the criminogenic risk was reduced where needed.

The re-arrest rate was lower for the women who either engaged with or received a service referral, compared with all referrals.

The women have described the differences the WONDER scheme made for them. These included finding new accommodation, reducing dependence on alcohol, reconnecting to children and increases in wellbeing and confidence.

Following a successful application for funding from the MOJ, my office now has rolled out the WONDER scheme across the county. The extension of funding for Wonder means the programme now will run until January 2021.

My office funds a county Community Chaplaincy scheme where volunteers work alongside offenders, ex-offenders and their families, offering mentoring and holistic support within prison, through the prison gate and out in the community.

The scheme commenced in February 2017 and offers a task orientated approach that identifies attitudes and behaviours that previously led to criminality. Support (through the volunteer scheme) is given to enable change to take place so that involvement in positive activities is undertaken rather than continuation of addictive and antisocial behaviours.

These activities involve regular meetings with mentors, identifying and encouraging personal interests of offenders and encouraging them towards education, training / employment. To date the project has recruited and trained 19 volunteer mentors who are supporting 25 active cases.

I chair a multi-agency Gateway to Employment (GtoE) Board which seeks to overcome obstacles to ex-offender employment, and match ex-offenders with potential employers. We have had important successes with 83 potential providers and employers on our books and, during 2018 over 214 opportunities were offered including interview experiences, bursaries/grants, training, work experience and over 50 job offers.

In 2017, I launched a scheme as part of my election campaign pledge to bring rescue dogs into HMP Norwich, initially to provide emotional support for offenders. This Rescue Rehab scheme has been a great success, and with the support of the prison the scheme has been expanded integrating it into the prison regime education provision, equipping participants with recognised skills and qualifications upon release.

I hope this helps to highlight how committed my office is to addressing reoffending. We all have a duty of care to protect the vulnerable in our society and work together to help those at risk of reoffending by offering them the best support possible to turn their lives around.

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