The cycle of reoffending across the Thames Valley will be significantly impacted thanks to a successful bid by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has secured a significant investment from the second round of the Ministry of Justice Local Leadership and Integration Fund (Prison Leavers Project).
The funding will deliver a pilot programme called Restart Thames Valley which will work with partners across the region to develop solutions to key challenges faced by people released from prison. Such challenges include provision of and access to support, access to accommodation and work opportunities and engagement with numerous service providers.
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Over half of people released from prison in the Thames Valley reoffend within 12 months which is why this funding is so important in helping us address the challenges that they, and the services supporting them, face.
“Such challenges begin at the prison gates. Many face difficulties in accessing support, especially out of hours. Geographical and organisational barriers can also make effective engagement with services very difficult. Many, unfortunately, fall back into a cycle of offending.
“Restart Thames Valley is focused on creating systemic change and dedicated provision to ultimately reduce reoffending and create safer communities. It will enable support workers to build trusted relationships with people before their release and offer an increased chance for them to successfully reintegrate into society.”
The 12 month pilot programme will support specific groups, including women and people on short term sentences, and incorporates a number of elements such as:
- Restart Thames Valley workers providing dedicated support to improve access to accommodation and work opportunities. This could include a meet at gate service encompassing transport, accompaniment, advocacy, referral and smoother access to services.
- Training for frontline staff across partner organisations on trauma informed care and gender-informed support needs.
- Extending the capability of an existing in-prison Virtual Campus IT solution, provided by Meganexus, out into the community. This will enable services to engage with prison leavers digitally, prior to release and support a “tell us once” approach. Interventions such as mentoring, training, job readiness and employment opportunities can begin prior to release and carry through into the community post-release.
- Providing better access to place-based community interest groups (e.g. DIY, sports, gardening, craft, parenting), where services co-locate to support integration with family and the community.
Service User Forums will take place throughout the programme so that lived experience continues to inform delivery and decision making.
Matthew added: “This isn’t just about ensuring people coming out of prison can turn their lives around. Reducing reoffending will prevent more people from becoming victims of crime in the future and keep all of us safer.”
Restart Thames Valley will run from May 2022 to April 2023 with multiple partners involved including the Probation Service, those in the Local Criminal Justice Board and a host of experienced voluntary and community organisations covering the force area. Leading the delivery are Aspire Oxfordshire, Browns Community Services, Connection Support, Parents And Children Together (PACT) and Thames Valley Partnership.