Welcome to our fourth publication for sentencers, which focuses on our work with women. In this edition:
- A foreword by chief executive Chris Edwards
- Feedback from our HMIP report
- Information about our excellent women’s services
- Details about how you can contact us
Foreword by Chief Executive Chris Edwards
As many of you may be aware, we recently had the first inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) under the new protocol adopted by the inspectorate. The HMIP report which recognises that Merseyside CRC “has clear strengths and is performing well” and that staff are “hard-working, committed and motivated” to support our service users to make positive changes to their lives. It also described women’s services as ‘impressive’ and some of our interventions for women are highlighted in this special edition of Changing Lives.
I would encourage anyone with an interest in the services we deliver to read the report in full because it recognises a lot of the progress we have made. However, it is important to stress that the inspection was carried out some time ago and we have made considerable strides since then to address areas that we knew needed attention.
I write at a time when a further consultation about the future of probation services has just concluded, early termination of Community Rehabilitation Company contracts has been announced and a new competitive process commences in 2019. This underlines that CRC staff must continue to operate in a constantly changing environment in which resources remain tight.
Against this backdrop, I remain very proud of the work of CRC staff and the services they deliver – remarkable given the landscape I describe.
Throughout 2018 in particular, we have spent a lot of time looking at activity which we hope improves the confidence of both Judiciary and Magistracy. We have evidence that indicates higher rates of enforcement and closer monitoring of those undertaking Community Payback and/or Behaviour Change Programmes. This means that we can demonstrate timely starts to these interventions and consistent activity to overcome barriers to attendance. Whilst not being complacent, and I am conscious of individual cases still causing concern, I believe we are in an increasingly strong position with regards to delivering sentences of the court.
I am also pleased with the greater direct contact we are having with sentencers. The increased dialogue means we are able to redress the negative impact of the CRC part of probation being kept at a distance from courts for the first part of their contracts, a situation in hindsight which most would accept as a structural mistake. I am very much aware that there is more to do on this agenda, but we are continuing to push for opportunities to showcase what we do and in my opinion, we are progressing quite quickly to the point where CRC staff will be available in court to provide timely and accurate information.
The final period of current CRC contracts – from now until the end of 2020 – will continue to be challenging, and we must work hard to keep the staff group stable and intact when uncertainty over new owners will inevitably cause some to be unsettled. My commitment is that we will do all we can to keep on an improving arc and deliver court sentences with integrity – seeing the satisfaction of sentencers as being one of our major criteria of success.
I hope you find this edition informative. Please feel free to contact me to arrange a visit or for more details: [email protected]
Our approach to female offender rehabilitation
Ex-service user Helen Gray with her probation case manager Jo Wharton.
Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company has adopted a Government strategy aimed at providing the best possible support to female service users.
The CRC supervises women on Community Orders, custodial licences, Suspended Sentence Orders and unpaid work orders (also known as community payback).
The CRC uses three women-only centres – Tomorrow’s Women Wirral (TWW), Women’s Turnaround Centre in Kirkdale (WTC) and a developing women’s centre in Prescot. All female service users are supervised from one of these three centres.
A recent All Parliamentary Report criticised CRCs for withdrawing funding from women’s centres which has led to a rise in short custodial sentences for women. However, Merseyside CRC has bucked that trend and has invested heavily in a number of contracts to ensure female offenders are provided with wrap around services to meet often complex need associated with criminal behavior.
Rosie Goodwin, MCRC community director with a strategic lead for women, said: “I am delighted the Ministry of Justice has published a strategy which endorses everything we have been striving to achieve in Merseyside.
“At M CRC we work with a number of dedicated partnership agencies to achieve the best possible outcomes for our women service users in order to reduce reoffending, protect the public and keep victims safe.
“Our women’s centres provide a safe, women-only environment that supports our service users to make positive change. In addition, our staff based at the centres are dedicated specialists who are highly skilled at balancing risk management with personalised support to help them achieve results.”
M CRC is focusing on providing the right Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RAR) for women and provides award winning Community Payback projects specifically for women as well. Whilst doing unpaid work, women can access training opportunities and many women achieve NVQ qualifications in skills based activities such as horticulture, catering and decorating. Other RAR activities available include:
- Domestic Abuse and support
- Psychoactive substances information briefing
- Shoplifting prevention
- Support to prevent drug misuse.
The Ministry of Justice’s strategy can be accessed by clicking this link.
Lizzie praised for her progress
Two dignitaries brought Lizzie cake to congratulate her on her progress after becoming aware of her story thanks to the work of the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company.
Sue Taylor, senior manager at Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, together with Merseyside’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell, visited the 53-year-old to congratulate her on successfully completing her prison licence.
Lizzie had been supervised on a range of Community Orders and eventually a custodial licence by M CRC for almost two years for a range of offences as she shuttled in and out of prison due to low level crime and her chaotic lifestyle.
Sue first became aware of Lizzie’s story after Rosie Goodwin, M CRC’s Community Director and lead on women’s services, wrote to her explaining the difficulties that service users with complex needs such as Lizzie faced.
Lizzie had become homeless after her mum became incapable of looking after her. Numerous services tried to support her, but ultimately her unpredictable and aggressive behaviour resulted in her being banned from St Helens and all local accommodation providers.
Rosie said: “Lizzie had a truly horrific childhood and only came to the attention of ourselves and social services later on in life. She has mental health issues and struggles to talk much about her history and was living on a terrible diet in frightening conditions.
“I mentioned her case to Sue to illustrate the complexity of the work we carry out. To Sue’s immense credit, she became deeply interested in the case and wanted regular updates to see how Lizzie progressed.
“I am delighted to say, that by working with our partner organisation P3, and with a great deal of effort from all concerned, Lizzie now has a happy conclusion and has stabilised.”
When Sue heard about Lizzie’s excellent progress she asked if she could visit to praise her in person. Lizzie was happy to host a visit, so long as Sue brought some cake.
Sue, from HMPPS’s Community Interventions Operational Delivery Unit, said: “M CRC, P3 and the partner agencies involved in supporting Lizzie deserve congratulations on this truly remarkable success story.
“The skillful and professional work of everyone concerned shows what progress can be made even in the most complex of cases. Lizzie needed very intensive care and had previously fallen through the gaps in traditional services.
“Those supporting her worked together to provide a high level of integrated support and their commitment and refusal to give up on people shows what a positive contribution can be made to changing lives.”
M CRC referred Lizzie for extra support from P3. The social inclusion charity is a partner within the Interserve-led Purple Futures. P3 works alongside CRC colleagues to support some of the most complex and chaotic people on probation.
The organisations worked with Lizzie and community services to improve her diet, get medical support and secure accommodation.
Heidi, from P3, said: “It was clear to us that Lizzie had a learning difficulty but had never previously been supported. Following numerous risk management meetings and assessments Lizzie finally secured funding for supported accommodation and an associated package of care.
“Due to living on the streets for a number of years and only eating a diet of Pepsi and pork pies, Lizzie had health issues which required specialist referrals and repeated medical visits.
“We went with Lizzie to all her appointments and eventually developed a rapport with her that has ultimately led to this wonderful conclusion.”
Lizzie added: “I am not afraid anymore. They helped me do everything and that’s why I am here now. I am happy now.”
Rosie said: “Lizzie’s journey took over 12 months but with consistency, tenacity and compassion, she now has a life.”
Women on Community Payback improve iconic square
Women carrying out Unpaid Work Orders in the Wirral are helping maintain Hamilton Square.
The iconic Georgian Square, which was designed by Edinburgh architect James Gillespie Graham, has the most Grade I listed buildings outside of London.
Women on probation, supervised by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company, remove litter, cut the edging, trim overgrowth, weed and plant to help ensure the square is spotless.
Nicky Boughey, Unpaid Work Supervisor, who works for Tomorrow Women’s Wirral but whose role is funded by MCRC, organised with Wirral Council for the Community Payback group to work in the square.
She said: “We work at four sites across the Wirral and are proud about the impact we have. The women have worked extremely hard on this project and we are delighted that they have received so much positive feedback.
“We do everything apart from mowing the grass, which is done by the council. The response from the public is great.”
Women on Community Payback also engage with Tomorrow’s Women to address the issues that have led them to their current situation. Other Unpaid Work roles include working within the TWW Charity Shop, painting and decorating and being responsible for the upkeep of the TWW Community Garden where they receive horticulture qualifications.
Nicky added: “Community Payback is a punishment for breaking the law, but it is also a way for people to learn new skills and to help them make positive changes in their lives.”
Women offender statistics
M CRC supervised a total of 707 women during the period April, 2017 to April, 2017.
During this period, the organisation achieve a successful completion rate form women offenders of 81 per cent, which is considerably above the targets set by the Ministry of Justice.
Focusing on Community Payback data, M CRC had a total of 282 starts for unpaid work, with a 99 per cent successful completion rate – exceeding the target of 90 per cent.
Currently in the caseload there are 684 women with a community sentence. Of these, 63 per cent are on a Community Order, while 37 per cent are on a Suspended Sentence Order. In the current caseload there has been a total of 10,719 RAR days ordered.
Most of the women fall into the age group 26-35. A total of 32 per cent identified as having a mental illness disability.