“A lot of people are crying out for help” – Ground breaking report into reducing offending finds
Monday 5th October 2020
In the UK adults reoffend at a rate of 28.0%
Juvenile’s reoffend at a rate of 39.2%*
In a ground breaking new project, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, has commissioned User Voice, a charity led and run by people with lived experience to speak to people in prison and on probation and understand what more can be done to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
User Voice spoke to adults and those in youth offending teams to understand their views and experiences. Through these conversations they have arrived at a set of key recommendations to help reduce offending and make sure the criminal justice system works better for our communities.
Although started before the COVID-19 pandemic, the issues arising are more pressing than ever. Many of the recommendations speak to services that have been restricted in prisons and the community since the start of the health crisis.
The project looked to understand: - Why people commit crime and are part of anti-social behaviour - What support services are in place to address this - How effective they are and what could be done differently.
Addiction, mental health, housing and education were found to be crucial areas for further work and support with participants telling us:
“If you’re an addict and you want to get clean, you want to get clean there and then. You don’t want to get clean in 2 months’ time.”
“The only time you will see a mental health worker, if you’ve self-harmed or you’ve tried killing yourself.”
“I was released into a hostel surrounded by drugs and that led back to offending.”
“I know for a fact the day I get out, I don’t see any opportunities.”
The findings of the report have been shared with partners across the criminal justice sector to find joint solutions to the issues raised and improve services overall and importantly, involve people who have been in prison or on probation.
Work has already begun on a number of projects such as developing a training package for those in prison, working with supported housing providers to accommodate more complex needs, as well as further pathways and support for mental health and addiction.
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said:
“Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour is a core outcome in my Police and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire.”
“Robust law enforcement will always rightfully have its place in taking action where necessary, but if we can reduce re-offending, and even beyond that, stop crime and anti-social behaviour from happening in the first place then everyone benefits.
“I am pleased with the findings of the report which has identified some key areas of work to take forward with our partners in policing, local authorities, voluntary/Third Sector and criminal justice agencies. I am already sharing these results and will continue to champion the changes needed going forward.
“My thanks and appreciation to User Voice for their invaluable work on this project which I am sure will make a difference not just on paper, but in our communities, changing lives for the better and helping to keep people safe.”
Mark Johnson MBE, User Voice Founder and CEO, said:
“It is not always easy empowering some of the most marginalised groups in society. User Voice has demonstrated that giving people in prison and on probation a voice using its lived experience approach can have significant results.
“This is the first time it has been used by a Police and Crime Commissioner and so I commend the Mark Burns-Williamson for embracing this innovative approach.
“If people who are at the sharp end of the system, prisoners and people on probation, are not equipped to lead successful lives then we will never reduce re-offending. How people are treated has a direct impact on how they behave.
“Consultations such as this create an environment based on responsibility, tolerance, decency, courtesy and humanity. This is all in support of the notion of making good citizens and promotes our fundamental belief that: it’s the people in the system who have the answers.
“Now the hard work begins in taking people’s insight and turning into action.”
To download the report and find out more visit https://www.uservoice.org/reducingre-offending and follow them on Twitter at @uservoiceorg
*.gov.uk last updated 8/7/2020
In support of the report we asked for questions over social media around reducing offending. Two of the questions can be seen being answered below by Mark Burns-Williamson, Police Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire PCC, Mark Johnson, CEO of User Voice, Jason Murphy and Jason Brown.