Criminal Justice in Stockport
Offender Management describes a set of activities carried out by professionals to ensure those who commit crime in Stockport are brought to justice. This means offenders will face punishment but will also be offered opportunities to address their offending behaviour, reducing crime in the process. There are many agencies responsible for delivering offender management but they are mainly led by the Probation Trust for adult offenders and the Youth Offending Service (YOS) for young people up to the age of 18.
Offender management involves a complex set of actions, starting with an assessment of the offender’s personal circumstances and the circumstances in which they committed their offence. Pre-sentence reports are presented to the courts so the judge or magistrate can make the most appropriate decision when imposing a sentence. These reports are very important and are carried out by trained and experienced staff.
The delivery of offender management often involves a number of different agencies – such as the police, mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment services and employment and accommodation providers. This approach is crucial because offenders present with difficulties in virtually all these areas of life, so it is essential to address the issues to help them stop re offending.
Offenders are required to meet with their allocated case officer on a regular basis, to ensure that all necessary actions are coordinated and completed. The offender is required to take part in the process; however if the offender does not show sufficient motivation to comply, the case officer will take breach action which may mean the offender is returned to court and possibly into custody.
Adult offenders who present a high risk of harm to the public are managed through a process called Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). Probation, Police and the Prison Services are the responsible authorities for MAPPA together with others who cover mental health, social services and drug treatment agencies. Intelligence and information is shared at the highest level and all agencies enter into a clear commitment to provide the required resources to address a wide range of issues. This process is essential in safeguarding public safety and works really well here in Stockport.
Stockport is also fortunate to have an equally successful fully Integrated Offender Management (IOM) project known as ‘Spotlight’. This is a team of people from different agencies who work together in the same office to manage offenders effectively. The team targets those who commit the most serious acquisitive crime (theft, burglary and vehicle crime) and/or serious violent crimes. There are approximately 150 offenders managed at any one time by Spotlight and in reality it offers an intensive service for the minority of people who commit the majority of crime.
Since November 2009, the Spotlight unit has made a significant contribution to public protection and community safety – achieving a reduction in re offending in Stockport of 33.6% in its first year. This equates to 82 fewer victims and a saving of £477, 000 to the criminal justice agencies. The success was repeated in the second year – 33.3% reduction in re offending and 68 fewer victims.
The work of the Spotlight Unit is also supported by START (Stockport Treatment – Access to Recovery) team who deliver a drug and alcohol assessment and brief intervention service as part of a National Payment By Results pilot programme. The team also conduct mandatory and voluntary substance misuse assessments with individuals arrested for specific offences.
You can watch a short film about the Spotlight Unit on YouTube.
Young offenders (up to the age 18 years of age) are exclusively managed by the Youth Offending Service (YOS). The principle aim is to identify young people who are at greatest risk of offending and to provide interventions at an early stage to stop this from happening. This includes:
- Assisting young people to engage in education, training or employment
- Working with young people and their parents to improve family relationships
- Supporting young people to find somewhere safe and secure to live
- Helping young people who have problems with substance and alcohol misuse
- Accessing emotional and mental health services
- Ensuring their physical health needs are met
- Getting young people engaged in positive leisure activities
- Supporting young people to make amends for their offences through mediation with their victims
- Completing offence focussed work with young people which challenges their attitudes and motivates them to stay offence free
- Engaging young people with mentors who can provide positive role models to them and support them to achieve their goals
A good example of an intervention is the ‘Cycloan’ project which gives young offenders aged 14-18 the opportunity to repair lost, stolen and broken bikes as part of community reparation or ‘payback’.
Once roadworthy, the bikes are donated direct to victims of cycle theft, others are supplied to community cycling groups to promote health and well-being and finally some are offered for sale to generate funding and provide project self-sustainability.
Since the scheme began around 100 offenders have repaired over 150 bikes. The scheme has recently gained the ‘London 2012 Inspire’ mark.
Domestic Abuse has been identified as a gap in provision for Stockport YOS and across wider agencies within Stockport. As such Stockport YOS are currently working with the ‘Odd Theatre Company’ to put on two programmes to address these issues. The first one will focus on ‘conflict within personal relationships’ and is due to start in 2012. The second one will focus on ‘conflict within the home’ and there will be a parallel programme running alongside this for parents of the young people engaged, this is due to start in March 2012.
You can watch a short film on YouTube about reparation and volunteering work produced by the Youth offending Service (YOS) and Stockport Action for Voluntary Youth (SAVY).
Life on the outside (LOTO)
The latest development for offender management is an initiative called ‘LOTO’ (Life on the Outside) which is supported by the LASAR team and colleagues from a local prison. This service aims to support offenders who are released from prison following very short-term sentences who previously missed opportunities to access support and quickly went on to commit further offences. Volunteers and Peer Mentors have been trained to provide on-going support in the community to help these offenders to break the cycle of their offending.
It is clear that offender management is critical to making sure that offenders are properly punished / managed / supported thereby protecting the public. It is delivered to a very high standard in Stockport and our communities can be reassured and have confidence in our ability to safeguard their interests.
Transforming services at the point of arrest, sentence and release, with a particular focus on women, youth, priority and prolific offenders will enable significant inroads to be made into reducing levels of crime and victimisation in Manchester. Efficiencies can be reinvested in early intervention within communities, preventing individuals falling into offending behaviour.
The reasons for change include:
- High levels of re-offending.
- Current costs are high across the criminal justice system.
- We need to break the cycle of offending and reoffending.
- Change requires ambitious leadership and radical shifts in culture.
- The system wide costs of female offending, in particular the impact on children.
Within Greater Manchester:
- Total cost of policing, courts, and other criminal justice system is approximately £870m.
- 29,000 offenders recently known to statutory offender management services.
- 82.5 offenders per 100,000 population.
- Peak age for offending is 19 years old.
Restorative justice (RJ) provides opportunities for victims to be heard and to have a say in the resolution of offences. It has the potential to transform the way in which the needs of the victim are met.
Importantly, restorative justice also enables offenders to face the consequences of their actions and the impact that it has had upon others. This has been shown to be effective in motivating offenders to change, make use of support being offered, and stop offending. Restorative justice is used in addition to a CJS penalty or sentence.
It can involve victims:
- Explaining to an offender the impact of the crime on them
- Seeking an explanation and apology from the offender
- Playing a part in agreeing restorative or reparative activity for the offender e.g. working for free for a charity, paying to repair any material damage, or keeping the victim informed of their progress in getting off drugs or finding a job.
There a number of different approaches to restorative justice which fall within 3 specific restorative justice levels:
- Level 1: An instant or ‘on street’ disposal used in the course of normal duty to resolve conflict.
- Level 2: Tackles more persistent matters that have a clear impact on communities and cannot be resolved using level 1.
- Level 3: Deals with offenders mainly post sentence and cases may be more complex and sensitive often involving prolific offenders.
The Restorative Justice Council provides quality assurance and the national voice for the field of restorative justice.
The Restorative Justice Council has produced an information pack to assist the provision of high quality restorative justice.
Victim Support is a national charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales.
SoRT-IT (Solve, Resolve, Talk it Through)
SoRT-IT is a flexible restorative justice approach to resolve community issues at a community level. Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) lead on recruiting, training and supporting the community members who deliver SoRT-IT. SoRT-IT deals with neighbour disputes and low level crime & disorder.
Both/all parties need to agree to use the SoRT-IT approach and be willing to attend a meeting to identify a mutually agreeable solution. The meeting offers both/all parties an opportunity to discuss how they have been affected without interruption.
Referrals can be taken from most ‘front line’ service staff and one of the key aims is to reduce demand on statutory services.
- SoRT-IT can deal with a variety of issues, which may include: Neighbour disputes, criminal damage, bullying, anti-social behaviour, and low level crime.
- SoRT-IT is flexible and solutions may be varied, solutions may include: an apology, an agreement to put an issue in the past and move on, an agreement to repair any damage, getting involved in a community activity.
- SoRT-IT will not decide guilt, be run without mutual consent, manage financial agreements or decide punishment.
SoRT-IT facilitators are community members who have received intensive training in delivering restorative justice solutions. The training supports confidence building and develops practical life skills. Facilitator training plans are carefully developed and monitored with the support of the SoRT-IT Co-ordinator.
SoRT-IT promotes community participation and if you are interested in becoming involved in SoRT-IT please contact the SoRT-IT team.
The SoRT-IT project management team can provide advice and guidance to referring agencies and members of the public, please contact: Email: SoRT-IT@stockport.gov.uk or telephone 0161 218 1758 or 0161 218 1739.
Problem Solving Courts
Specialist Problem Solving Courts have been launched in Stockport. They are changing the face of criminal justice by identifying contributing factors in offending behaviour and offering specialist support to offenders. You can see more about the work of Problem Solving Courts by watching the short film below.