Mapping Innovation: Putting practitioners and evidence at the heart of justice reform
The Centre for Justice Innovation is running the ‘Mapping Innovation’ Project, which highlights 24 projects that champion innovative, evidence led practice in the justice system. The project came as a response to findings that suggested that numerous practitioners are unaware of projects in their neighbouring areas that have taken similar journeys – it seeks to increase the flow of information around the system.
What are they looking to achieve?
The project aims to begin the process of creating a complete picture of current practice throughout England & Wales, in order to give practitioners and policymakers a resource with which to screen the field and make their own connections between like-minded people and projects. Part of their goal is observing patterns and seeing what lessons could be drawn from said patterns.
- many of the innovations are working with service users with complex needs (vulnerable young people, vulnerable women, individuals with mental health issues)
- direct response to the complexity of the individuals that are being worked with
- the traditional justice system default to convict and punish is simply making outcomes worse
- often collaborative involving partnerships between many different services (NHS, voluntary sector, specialist services, statutory services)
- problem-solving, attempting to provide wrap-around support, understand underlying causes of offending
- a tendency towards upstream intervention
- driven up from the ground and by dedicated and passionate individuals => increasing importance of local solutions
- local nature of the innovation means that in general, there has been slim national Government involvement
positive: emboldening practitioners to be creative and responsive at a local level
negative: it would be beneficial to have a national system for mainstreaming practice
In order to provide a better understanding of the program, we are focusing on two initiatives designed to provide aid to women and youth in the criminal justice system.
Whole Systems Approach (WSA) project focusing on women in the Criminal Justice System (CJS)
The project centres on a multi-agency approach to addressing the complex needs of often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged women in society being processed through the CJS.
This project will aim to focus on three core areas of the Criminal Justice System that impact on women offenders:
- at the point of contact with police – to establish an enhanced pan-Sussex Women’s Diversionary project incorporating Out of Court Disposals (OOCD) and Voluntary Attendance Suites (VAS); expand the diversion processes at an early stage prior to arrest, enabling police to make key decisions about disposals
- post-charge - to consolidate resources and have a county-wide resource base accessible to all sectors of the CJS particularly at court stage
- post-release – promote service delivery and enhance communication amongst women’s prisons, set up a mentoring system, target support for complex and vulnerable women offenders
The Women’s Steps to Change Team (WSCT) will be delivering a new and enhanced triage and diversion scheme offered exclusively to women.
How it has helped women
74 referrals have been received and the WSCT are working actively to engage all these women into appropriate services locally to seek help around their specific complex vulnerabilities.
- The WSCT saw a woman in custody, there were concerns about her safety and well-being. The team drove her to a temporary housing placement in Crawley and steps were taken to find her more suitable accommodation to avert a risky situation from escalating.
- After meeting with a woman in custody, steps were taken to link her with a local substance misuse agency. The WSCT kept the police investigation team and the court updated.
Sam (of SCJB) aims to establish a bespoke women’s residential service that will provide support through a wrap-around service that will be truly responsive to the complex needs of women. The overall aim of the WSA is about setting up a ‘mechanism of prevention’ when thinking about the justice system. Reducing reoffending and reducing arrests are equally important.
Bespoke and Holistic Services
The ‘one-stop shop’ approach brings a more holistic approach for women that need support, allows agencies to work more effectively, and over time could bring cost savings as more shared resources are allocated to working with this cohort.
Reducing offending and re-offending amongst the 18-25 age group is a key priority for the South Wales PCC and the Chief Constable. Young adults are disproportionately represented in the CJS and are now the most prolific group of offenders. This age group accounts for approximately 12% of the total population, but 18-25 year olds are committing 33% of all recorded crime in South Wales.
The goal of the project: improve the prospects for the 18-25 age group, testing the impact of early intervention
The services provided through the scheme give young adults the opportunity to achieve the following outcomes: empowered to make informed life choices, enhance life skills, and improve health and well-being. The 18-25 Diversion scheme diverts young adults away from the CJS and into interventions and support, based on assessed individual needs that would effectively understand the offending and seek to prevent further re-offending. The diversion pilot objectives were to identify if a diversion model for young adults could effectively reduce offending and support victims to move on from any harm caused.
Organisations involved: South Wales OPCC, South Wales Police, Youth Offending Services in Vale and Cardiff, Media Academy Cymru, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Vale Centre for Voluntary Services and the Waterloo Foundation.
Evaluating its impact
According to a recent qualitative evaluation, 18-25 Project has made a considerable impact on the young adults who have taken the opportunity to have an Adult Community Resolution instead of being processed through the CJS to receive a criminal record via caution or court disposal.
The support needs that are identified and dealt with provide a practical example of how diversion, prevention and addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can work in harmony to positive effect. Without addressing the young person’s support needs, where they are identified, the work on consequences of crime, restorative practice and victim impact would not be anywhere near as effective. This work is important in sustaining long-term changes in behaviour, circumstances and lifestyle choices.