Thames Valley Probation work with a range of offenders to cut crime, protect the public and ensure public safety. They aim to challenge attitudes and behaviour which result in crime and cause distress to victims. We work with a diverse range of partners to make a vital contribution to community safety, the social inclusion agenda and public protection.
We provide interventions which punish, control, help and change offenders. This work involves assessing the likelihood of reconviction and the risk of serious harm posed and supervising offenders on community orders and prison licences using evidence based interventions. Thames Valley Probation enforce orders and licences, which can result in re-sentencing or recall to prison. In addition we work with victims using restorative justice and also liaison to prevent re-victimisation for victims of serious crime.
Offenders are often vulnerable people with educational, health, social and behavioural needs. After release offenders can often find it difficult to fit back into society.
Facts, figures and trends
Offender rates in Bracknell Forest are lower than the national average and are falling. Re-offender rates are also below the national average.
Figure 1: Crime rate per 1,000 – Top 5 crimes in Bracknell Forest
Source: Thames Valley Police
Community Payback is part of the work of Thames Valley Probation. This involves offenders working on local projects as part of their rehabilitation. The process allows offenders to engage with others, contribute towards their community and to learn new skills. The process can reduce their social isolation and enable higher future job prospects due to the newly learnt skills.
Mental health and substance misuse
Nationally 90% of all prisoners are estimated to have a diagnosable mental health problem (including personality disorder) and/or a substance misuse problem (HM Government, 2011). The mental health of those incarcerated is much worse than the general public (Pari et al, 2012).
Data from the Public Health Outcomes Framework shows that in 2012/13 in Bracknell Forest, the number of people entering prison with substance dependence issues who were previously not known to community treatment was 23. This equates to 36.5% of all of those entering prison who are assessed for substance dependence issues and is similar to both the South East average (53.2%) and the England average (46.9%).
National & local strategies (current best practices)
At the time of writing the exact future of Thames Valley Probation is unknown. This is due to imminent governmental changes to the delivery of offender services under the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. It is anticipated that higher risk offenders will remain under the supervision of a newly formed National Probation Service with less risky offenders being managed by the private and community voluntary sector.
The Rebalancing Act (Revolving Doors Agency, 2016) is a resource produced with support from Public Health England and the Home Office which builds on Balancing Act (2012). Highlights the mark changes to the health and criminal justice systems to look at concrete ways in which partnership and collaboration can be strengthened to address the health inequalities faced by those in contact with the criminal justice system.
What are the key inequalities?
Overall there has been a reduction in serious crime, however unmet needs exist that are linked to offending across a range of areas including housing, health, relationships, employment, substance misuse and relationships.
Inequalities exist between areas of higher and lower levels of deprivation, education and socio-economic status.
What are the unmet needs/ service gaps?
There remains a core of offenders who are not in suitable stable accommodation at the point of termination. This is for a range of reasons including the proximity of the housing to other offenders or a victim living with an abuser (is not suitable) or because they have lost accommodation due to a period of imprisonment or anti-social behaviour. Some offenders, however, remain in housing need.
As identified above, offenders experience health inequalities compared to the general population. This experience increases for offenders released from prison as there is inconsistent continuity of care from prison into the community. There is no specific provision for offenders who can often lead chaotic lifestyles and accessing set appointments can be very challenging.
All crime results in a victim and many offenders have also experienced being a victim of crime. The impact of crime on individuals can be overwhelming and traumatic and affect individuals and families physically, emotionally and financially. Locally an increase in face-to-face support for victims and wider access to services for children affected by crime would assist in reducing the longer-term impacts on victims and their families.
Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations
- It is recommended that there is a clear local pathway for offender health for those released from prison and those already in the community.
- There would be benefits in electing a local victim’s champion to raise awareness about the range of issues facing victims.
- Recognition for the specific needs of offenders in the delivery of community provisions, including development of female specific provision for female offenders and those at risk of offending.
- We encourage the need for probation services provider to be included in existing partnership forums and boards such as the Health and Wellbeing Board, for example to ensure that the close link between re-offending, victims of crime and social exclusion, poverty and local regeneration activity are addressed in a coherent way.