Swanswell welcomes Government’s probation service plans

09 January 2013

Plans to overhaul the probation service in England and Wales allowing more private and voluntary groups to help cut re-offending, are being welcomed by Swanswell.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to news today (9 January 2013) that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will announce proposals to let the private sector manage the probation of low risk offenders.

As part of the plans, prisoners serving short sentences will have to undertake compulsory rehabilitation for the first time. Currently, people serving under 12 months in prison are offered voluntary rehabilitation and are otherwise released without support (reports BBC News).

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The voluntary sector has a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can often be overlooked, so today’s plans acknowledge these skills and are a positive step in helping more people change their lives for the better.

There can be many complex reasons behind someone’s offending, so it’s important to identify and appropriately treat those root causes to help people rehabilitate successfully.

In the case of drug-related crime, it’s essential that people get the right support to identify the reasons behind their substance misuse and subsequent offending, so they can receive treatment and reduce the risk of re-offending.

We know from experience that it works – we already work closely with probation services and the police through Accredited Programmes in Staffordshire and the West Midlands, and through our recent work with the Greater Manchester Probation Trust.

We’ve also developed a 12-session Reducing Drug-Related Offending Programme in the Midlands, commissioned by police and probation, which saw a 71% reduction on spend on illegal drugs among participants, during the pilot.

In addition, 15.3% of those taking part completed the programme drug free – and our programme won an award from the Howard League for Penal Reform.

‘With the cost of drug-related crime in England and Wales estimated at around £15.4 billion a year, Swanswell’s Reducing Drug-Related Offending Programme could save up to £2.4 billion, if rolled out nationally.

So more working relationships like those proposed by the government today could be vital in helping cut re-offending and reduce the annual strain on the public purse during these times of austerity.’







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