For many offenders unemployment is a precursor to criminal activity. Sustained employment has been proven to reduce re-offending by between 33 and 50%. Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company’s Education, Training & Employment Rehabilitation Activity Requirement can improve the employability of those offenders referred to the Activity by giving them structured information, advice and guidance on how to move forwards with learning and work. For some it will also be necessary to help them access functional skills (literacy, numeracy, ESOL) via local providers.
Thames Valley CRC offers the following 4 rehabilitation activities
Between 5 and 10 sessions (days) can be sentenced dependent on need. All participants will complete 4 core sessions to include assessments of previous employment, learning, skills and interests, motivation and barriers to work and disclosure guidance. A SMART action plan will be developed and reviewed throughout. Remaining sessions will fit with individual needs to include classes and CV composition.
The primary aims of the Requirement is rehabilitation and improving employability skills but there may be secondary benefits through the restriction of liberty involved in attendance for up to 10 days. The recommended length of this RAR is 30 days, so service users are supported while undertaking this activity, learning is reinforced, goal achievement is monitored and other activities or services can be built into the plan, depending on each individual’s need.
MARA is a 10-session group treatment programme for people who are aggressive or violent after drinking.
The main aim of MARA is to develop skills in managing alcohol related conflict, increase awareness of the link between alcohol and violence and to develop relapse prevention strategies to reduce the likelihood of further re-offending.
MARA is designed primarily for those who are binge drinkers, rather than those who are alcohol dependent, and who get into trouble in social drinking occasions.
The primary aims of this RAR activity are rehabilitation and motivation to change but there may be secondary benefits through the restriction of liberty involved in attendance for up to 30 days (to allow for relapse, restart and other services each individual may need).
Restorative Justice in Thames Valley is delivered by the Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service, which is a partnership, primarily between Thames Valley CRC and Thames Valley Partnership.
There are 3 types of RJ in Thames Valley:
1) Restorative Justice (RJ) as a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.
RJ involves victim and offender, their families, friends and supporters, meeting together to talk about what happened; who was affected and how; and what can be done to repair the harm caused by an offence. RJ as a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement can be used for offenders in custody or on post-release licence, as well as those sentenced to a Suspended Sentence Order, Community Order or deferred sentence.
The aims are to:
• Focus on the repair of harm
• Reduce re-offending
• Work towards positive outcomes for both the victim(s) and the offender
The service user will attend up to 4 days of activity. Where the victim does not wish to take part other restorative activities take place.
2) Restorative Justice (RJ) as a pre-sentence option
(pilot project, in Oxfordshire only)
A National Offender Management Service (NOMS) supported pilot is taking place in Oxfordshire and two other sites in the country to look at how it can be made to work as part of a deferred sentence.
It is being undertaken by Thames Valley CRC and Thames Valley Partnership with support from a number of other key players in the criminal justice system.
During a period of deferment, a Restorative Justice facilitator will work with the victim and offender towards an RJ conference. The conference will conclude with an agreement supported by both people about how the offender can repair the harm caused. During the remainder of the deferred sentence period the offender will work towards completing those actions. Specific offences will be targeted for this scheme as being appropriate.
3) RJ which is victim-led
Most restorative justice has started with offenders. Victims have then been approached once offenders have agreed to take part. This project starts the process by talking with victims first and identifying what they need. We offer the opportunity to victims to initiate the RJ process by taking referrals from victims and the agencies who support them.
Thames Valley Partnership is working with Thames Valley CRC and Victim Support in a collaboration funded by the European Union.
Victims are able to refer themselves. Agencies who work with victims of crime, including Victim Support, the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and National Probation Service Victim Liaison Units are also invited to refer suitable victims to the service.
This is a women-only activity of up to 14 days, designed to reduce the chances of re-offending.
Participants take part in 12 sessions, plus an induction beforehand and a review session after the 12, making 14 sessions altogether.
Women will mostly attend in groups although eh activity can be delivered as a one-to-one activity, if necessary.
Topics covered over the 12 sessions include:
■ Communication and assertiveness skills
■ Thinking skills
■ Problem-solving skills
■ Relaxation skill and stress management skills
■ Identifying, expressing and managing emotions
■ Addressing self-doubts and self-esteem
■ Coping with financial strain and stresses of daily living
“It has been good. It has chilled me out a lot. Made me realise that it’s not worth getting into trouble.”
MARA group member
“Very useful to me and my family. I will try to use the skills”
Thinking Ahead for Women participant
“I recommend Restorative Justice to anyone. I’ve benefitted from it. I haven’t got a bad word to say about RJ.”
“Very enjoyable course, it has been a good experience and I have learnt to be more more thoughtful and understanding about how other people feel e.g. victims of my behaviour – a really good experience.”
Thinking Ahead for Women participant