Offenders are amongst the most socially excluded in society and often have complex and deep-rooted health and social problems, such as substance misuse, mental health, homelessness and debt, family and financial problems. Research shows that prison is neither cost effective nor does it deliver sustainable benefits in terms of reduced harm to the community.
Our overarching outcome is to reduce reoffending of adults, children and young people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in order to reduce crime and prevent further victims. The intention is to reduce both the volume and seriousness of offences i.e. to address risk and harm.
Lack of suitable housing is a severe risk to an offender’s ability to engage with any other kind of programme or service. National research suggests that stable accommodation can make a difference of over 20% in terms of reducing reoffending.
Drug and alcohol-related needs are commonly seen in combination with a range of other issues, such as unsuitable housing, problems managing finances and unemployment.
Identifying and understanding the obstacles to reintegration that offenders face is vital to ensure that their needs are addressed in a holistic and coordinated way.
Research into short-sentence prisoners indicates that they want help to address offending behaviour but the length of programmes to address thinking, attitudes and behaviour may exclude many short sentence prisoners from participating.
Despite the recognised high prevalence of dual diagnosis amongst offenders with mental health problems services are not well organised to meet this need.
Effective work with offenders with dual diagnosis and complex needs depends on better assessment and information sharing between various agencies involved with an individual’s care. Drug treatment plays only one part in supporting rehabilitation and re-integration.
Two out of three adult offenders are unemployed. Accommodation problems, drugs and alcohol, lack of qualifications/ skills and health problems, as well as criminal record, are cited as reasons for unemployment.
Education, training and employability issues are linked to risk of reoffending for just under a quarter of adult offenders.
Short-sentence prisoners have less stable family relationships and increased social isolation, and they are more likely to be single and living alone.
Family and relationships is a significant factor in three quarters of young offenders assessed as being at medium to high risk of reoffending, with domestic abuse being the most prevalent family-related factor (57%). Other issues identified include poor parenting, experience of bereavement or loss, alcohol and/or drugs and criminal behaviour by other family members.
35% of adult offenders are recorded as having a disability. Previous data indicated that dyslexia, mental health conditions and mobility issues are the most commonly disclosed. Short-sentence prisoners may have health problems and disabilities requiring social care but engagement with local authorities is likely to be poor.
Just over a third of adult offenders have problems with their finances that are linked to their offending behaviour. The majority of short sentence prisoners were on benefits prior to going to prison and many are concerned about their financial situation upon release and struggle with financial management.
Female offenders are more likely to be involved in abusive relationships (69%), to be opiate users (20%) and to have parental responsibility (43%).
National research indicates higher prevalence of emotional and mental health issues amongst female offenders. Female young offenders were more likely to have a higher risk of reoffending associated with Family and Personal relationships, Emotional and Mental Health and Thinking and Behaviour. Other issues include Substance Misuse and attitudes to offending.
Restorative justice enables victims to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the real impact of the crime. It holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends.
Research shows a significant impact on reducing reoffending, at least 14%, through ‘in depth’ RJ creating significant changes in offenders’ attitudes and beliefs, so contributing to their employability and their desistance from crime.
The Reducing Reoffending Strategy is implemented through the Safer Cornwall Reducing Reoffending Strategy Implementation Group which meets quarterly to discuss the issues above. This group is made up of key organisations including Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, National Probation Service (NPS), Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), Domestic Abuse Services, Drug and Alcohol services, as well as representatives regarding employment and support.