Pioneering ideas to stop reoffending

Published: 23 Mar 2015

Author: Helen Collins
Pioneering ideas to stop reoffending

Helen Collins, a Probation Manager in Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company Ltd, has recently returned from a seven week fact-finding tour of Canada and the United States.

This opportunity was funded and supported by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and Prison Reform Trust, and resulted from her research proposal being selected from many others submitted across the UK. Helen wanted to learn about different approaches that help people to turn away from a life of crime.

Helen says, “In our Criminal Justice System, we tend to concentrate on looking at people’s past and this can have a profoundly negative impact. They often can’t see a future that doesn’t involve more crime or anti-social behaviour.  I’ve found a lot of evidence to show that helping people look to a positive future and helping them recognise and achieve goals gives a new perspective and can turn around their lives.”

She visited many projects where success has been achieved, and a common factor is the provision of opportunities for people who have offended to give something back to their community. Helping them recognise that they can contribute serves as a powerful motivator for positive change. Projects using this ‘desistance’ model seem to achieve big reductions in offending. This obviously benefits the individual but also improves circumstances for their family and wider community.

Helen says, “I visited with some really innovative programmes and was particularly impressed by the work of the Center for Court Innovation taking place in areas of New York City. The projects were having a really impressive impact upon some communities that had been ravaged by crime, drugs and gang activity.”

Since returning home Helen has secured agreement from the Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg and the Community Safety Partners responsible for Darlington to put the learning into practice. She will work with these to develop a social action scheme that provides opportunities for people who have offended to put something back into their community.

Helen went on to say, “The response from partners and local agencies has been brilliant and we are keen to develop social action initiatives that reduce levels of crime in Darlington and provide meaningful and lasting benefits to the local community.”

The development of this initiative coincides with the Ministry of Justice awarding a contract for rehabilitation services to the ARCC Consortium. This is made up of a number of local organisations who came together to ensure the effectiveness of the old Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust was not lost during the recent split of the Probation Service.

Contact Helen: helen.collins@dtv.probation.gsi.gov.uk 

Notes to Editors

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is working with the Prison Reform Trust to highlight the belief that arts can play a unique role in older people’s lives, including those with dementia; and the contribution that the arts make to improve society. The three year ‘Arts and Older People’ partnership, from 2012 to 2014, will award 10 Fellowships per year, and aims to achieve a more coordinated impact at national and regional level of the lessons learnt in this area, and the dissemination of the findings. In 2015 there will be a national conference to launch the research findings.