LRPT prides itself on delivering high performance in the areas of reducing reoffending and encouraging offenders to a positive outcome. It does this by a number of different ways.
LRPT’s Peer Mentoring Scheme commenced in June 2009 in the Criminal Justice Drugs Team and has since been extended to include the Trust’s regional employability contract, Community Payback, Offender Management and HMP Leicester.
Peer mentoring The programme trains ex-offenders to be mentors to other offenders. The scheme started as a number of former service users volunteered to still attend treatment groups even though their orders had finished. They wanted to ‘help out’ and ‘give back.’ At LRPT there are currently 40 active peer mentors. The scheme provides appropriate training, supervision and increased opportunities. Financial support for the mentoring project is a combination of funding from the Pooled Treatment Budget, the Drug Intervention Programme and Public Health. The initiative involves 3-months bespoke NOCN accredited weekly training (delivered by employed ex peer mentors), which covers establishing boundaries, motivating and supporting offenders and dealing with difficult situations.
Peer Mentors must meet the following criteria
- Be free of illicit drug use
- No problematic use of alcohol
- Have stopped offending
- Developed a stable lifestyle and positive attitude and be in a position to help and support others.
The programme prevents re-offending by the peer mentors themselves. A number of the peer mentors have been Prolific and Priority Offenders (PPOs) and all those, who have been recruited from probation, have at least one previous conviction. The scheme gives skills, motivation, focus and self-belief – all of which have a positive impact upon preventing further offending by peer mentors.
Theprogramme prevents re-offending by those who access the support from peer mentors. Having a positive role model is extremely powerful in desistance from offending. A significant number of offenders have ‘looked up’ to peer mentors, making comments such as ‘if he can do it, I can do it.’ Estimates on re-offending rates reveal that over 95% of those who have completed the peer mentor training programme have not been reconvicted.
The Just Women Project aims to reduce women’s offending behaviour by proving a credible alternative to short term custodial sentences. Participants begin to believe that change is possible as there are alternatives and with the right amount of supervision and support, they are empowered to make positive choices. i. LRPT has developed the project in partnership with the Leicester-based charity New Dawn, New Day Ltd (NDND) to provide a female only space that sees probation staff working alongside workers from the charity and other providers. Leicestershire and Rutland is one of the few Probation Trusts that has co-located a Probation Officer and a Probation Service Officer at a women only centre. LRPT’s psychologist runs the Women’s Anger Management course at the facility and a substance abuse worker from the drug and alcohol team visits every week to work with women who have misuse issues.
The Just Women Project (JWP) delivers Specified Activity Requirements (SARs), unpaid work placements, as well as operating an additional in-reach service at HMP Peterborough and a ‘through the gate provision’.
In-reach involves an outreach and support worker, with Probation staff, going into the community link room at HMP Peterborough and providing a wrap-around support package.
Through the gate provision is where the JWP meets the women exiting custody, either at the gate of the prison or at the train station in Leicester, with the purpose of enabling women to access their initial support needs in the community.
Attendance to this project is imposed by the magistrates as part of a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order. The requirement can be made for between 20 up to 40 days.
The Probation Officers and JWP staff develop a supervision and support package with each woman. The package can include a counselling service, guidance from the Community Advice and Law Service, functional skill courses in maths and English and health advice.
The JWP works closely with a local mental health service that deals with Personality Disorders. The project has forged excellent links with all the domestic abuse organisations in Leicester, due to the women’s childhood and adult experiences of abuse and trauma.
Leicester City Council Parenting Strategy also supports the JWP by delivering a tailor made women only parenting programme that contributes to the families with complex and multiple needs initiative.
Mental Health: LRPT believes that improving an offender’s mental health will not only boost compliance with a community order, or post-custody licence, but also their motivation to work towards rehabilitation. The Probation Trust is now involved in a partnership initiative with the Leicestershire Partnerships Trust (LPT) and Leicestershire Police to improve access to services for offenders with mental health issues and learning disabilities.
Funded by the Department of Health, the project – its full title is ‘Towards Excellence – Offender Mental Health and Learning Disabilities’ – is a local response to the published influential review by former Home Office Minister Lord Keith Bradley. The report revealed that around 70% of prison inmates are believed to have two or more mental health conditions. In Leicestershire and Rutland there was virtually no provision or joined up approach for men and women involved in the Criminal Justice System, who required mental health support. Individual practitioners were left to establish their own links.
Following the allocation of funding, the first major initiative was the Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion Service, (CJLDS) which finally went live on 6th August 2012. The CJLDS is part of the National Liaison and Diversion Development.
The CJLDS involves mental health nurses being based at:
- Leicester city’s Euston Street Police Station for seven days a week to interview detainees who have been identified as requiring an assessment.
- City and county courts for five days a week to screen and assess people with known or suspected mental health or learning disability issues.
- Main city probation office – attending once a week in the morning followed by an afternoon visit to county offices on a rotation basis.
A secondary element of the ‘Towards Excellence’ partnership project is the Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service for offenders. In April 2012, the Primary Care Trust awarded a £70,000 grant which enabled the project board to employ two IAPT workers to specifically work with city-based offenders being supervised by the Probation Trust.
The Open Mind Service is the first such mental health arrangement in England and Wales. This service entails offenders talking to a therapist to help identify their problems and how to deal with them. This pilot service offers talking therapies for common mental health problems such as mild and moderate depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Actions may include services provided by voluntary agencies, therapy groups and specialist therapies.
This new approach ensures the Offender Manager undertakes a number of linked work sessions before the offender begins their therapy. There is also a three-way post therapy review, which includes the Offender Manager, the IAPT worker and the offender.
Health Trainers: Although many service users being supervised by LRPT have health issues and often poor lifestyles, health professionals often find this group difficult to engage with.
Launched in September 2010, the Health Trainer initiative is a partnership project with the original funders being the city and county Primary Care Trusts. Attendance to this project is imposed by Magistrates as part of a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order. The requirement can be made for between 20 up to a 40 day limit.
By employing former offenders, the trained health trainers are willing to share their previous life experiences to show that change is possible – and they do understand the issues that many current service users are facing. Adopting a healthier way to live, at a pace that is sustainable, is seen to encourage a more engaged approach with supervision and tackling other issues such as unemployment.
Engagement with the health trainers enables service users to register with a health professional such as a doctor or dentist. The team also offer to create a tailored health plan for individual service users to aid the development of better eating habits, taking more exercise and stopping or reducing smoking.The impact of the programme now sees the health trainer team with strong links to other relevant agencies such as STOP Smoking, Fit Active Bodies, Safer Leicester Partnership, Addaction and mental health support services.
The REACH Project is financial supported by the NOMS Co-Financing Organisation, which distributes funding from the European Social Fund for employability programmes that work with offenders. LRPT holds the Prime Contract with delivery across the region sub-contracted to a consortium of Probation Trusts and voluntary sector organisations.
The programme is available in both community and custodial settings across the East Midlands region. REACH is contracted to work with 7501 participants, of which around 1200 will be assisted into sustainable employment. After the successful completion of round one, we are currently delivering round two of REACH which will run until December 2014 and it is anticipated that round three will be commissioned later this year. The REACH programme is offered to those under probation supervision as well as those who have served less than twelve months in custody and who are not currently in statutory contact with the service. Participants receive an intensive and bespoke package of support to participants, many of whom have multiple barriers to employment. Mentoring is a core element of REACH and there is a large number of volunteer mentors working across the region, some engaging with participants prior to their release and some working in the community.
REACH case workers in the community work from probation buildings. They deliver an intensive employability service to participants, providing access to a range of supportive services, training courses and employment opportunities. The case workers, who are based in prisons, work with participants during their sentence and either follow them out through the gate or transfer them to a community case worker upon release. REACH currently has case-workers in thirteen prisons in the East Midlands.
The charity shop is based at 12 Market Place, Leicester. LE1 – 5GF. Profits from the shop help fund services for victims of crime. LRPT with Victim Support, Leicestershire and Rutland, manage a unique partnership that provides the charity with shop premises and opportunities for supervised offenders to undertake unpaid reparation work. This was the first time that Victim Support and a Probation Trust has jointly opened a retail unit that is staffed by the charity’s workers and volunteers in a city centre location. , The Victim Support team is supported by selected offenders who undertake a variety of jobs.
The offenders’ work includes collecting bags of donated clothes, preparing the garments for sale – and placing items on the racks on the shop floor. There is also the opportunity for men and women to deal directly with the public. Profits from the shop help fund services for victims of crime.