The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, is working closely with partners to put together a package of support for those being released from prison as part of the government’s Covid-19 prison release scheme.
The PCC’s prison release package has been developed in response to the CoVID-19 pandemic.
This offer will link in directly with partners in the National Probation Service and the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRCs) to identify and refer individuals into these services.
This package of support is intended to provide additional capacity and complement services that already exist through the CRCs and current contracts.
These services will be provided by partner agencies and third sector organisations already commissioned by the PCC.
The support that will be available in this package includes:
- 1 to 1 peer support,
- Support for those who are victims of Domestic Abuse,
- Support with substance misuse,
- Helping service users with Universal Credit applications and/or accessing other benefits,
- Support with finding employment and accessing training,
- Ensuring service users are registered with a GP and accessing medicine they need.
By working with partners to provide this support the PCCs is aiming to support business as usual release from prison during the current public health emergency, with the aim to reduce reoffending and save future costs to the tax payer.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Waheed Saleem said: “The CoVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to work differently and adapt the services that we provide to ensure that those who are released from prison are given support to break the cycle of crime.
“By working with partners in the Criminal Justice System we will be able to provide vital support for service users to help them get their lives back on track and reduce the chances of them reoffending”.
Sarah Chand, Director for National Probation Service, Midlands Division said: “Having these wraparound services to complement and add capacity to the interventions provided by Probation is really important, particularly whilst we are in lockdown.
“For some individuals, they will be a major source of support, for others a way to continue addressing the factors which led them to offend. For all, they will help contribute to reducing the risk of reoffending both now with the current stresses of Covid-19 and also in the future.
“Enabling and assisting those released early to organise some of the fundamental services and needs we all have, such as an income source and access to primary health care, coupled with wider support, is critical to the likelihood of successful rehabilitation. In turn, reduced reoffending benefits local communities and the whole criminal justice system”.
Sara Ward Chief Executive of Black Country Women’s Aid said: “We are really pleased that there has been a coordinated approach to supporting women being released from prison.
“Women should not have to cope on their own. The partnership has recognised the challenges that women face and are working with our specialist services to ensure that women get the right help and support at the right time.
“We know this makes a difference and we know this will keep women and communities safe”.
One service user said: “I was referred to New Chance which is where I met Beth. The referral came through very quickly and I was very nervous and embarrassed about attending for the first time.
“For many of the meetings I just sat and cried. I could not believe that I had ended up in this situation as I was normally a person of very good character and had never been in trouble with the police before.
“Beth explained about trauma and its effects and we discussed ways for me to cope and how to heal and recover from what I had gone through. My time with Beth was invaluable just to have a woman to talk to about what I had gone through and receive really good sound advice.
“She helped me to understand why we react to certain situations and how I can prevent it from ever happening again. I wasn’t judged at all. I was helped and for that I will always be truly grateful.”
Organisations who are providing the services are:
- Anawim are providing food parcels, virtual support including some groups, isolation, mental health, children’s activities & domestic abuse packs for women to work through at home.
- Birmingham and Solihull and Black Country Liaison and Diversion Teams are providing Supportive telephone contact, guidance and signposting to community support, food parcel delivery.
- Black Country Women’s Aid all service users can be provided with food parcels and toiletries if needed. Service users in the Black Country can be referred in to wider BCWA services – IVDA, ISVA, Stalking advocates, refuge.
- Bringing Hope are providing peer led support and guidance/sign posting our approaches seek to address an individual’s needs, concerns challenges and interests within a holistic framework (exploring wellbeing: physical, emotional, mental, moral, ethical, social and community).
- Catch 22 are supporting service users with finance, drug & alcohol support, education, employment and training, relationships and health.
- Changing Lives are supporting women remotely phone / video / online and are doing 121s / assessments / referrals / support plans this way. Liaising with other organisations and have capacity to be dropping off food parcels, well-being packages, toiletries, workbooks to women across Walsall and Wolverhampton.
- Fry Housing will carry out a needs assessment over the phone on receipt of referral. Weekly resources emailed/posted to clients in relation to sessions that would have been completed in group activities regular phone calls to clients to discuss welfare, safety, support needs (housing, benefits, health etc.). Liaising with Police, Offender Managers and other agencies to provide ongoing support face to face support if deemed urgent, food and medication can be collected for people in isolation.
- NHS England are providing peer support prior to release.
- St Giles Trust are providing resettlement packs, accommodation, education training and employment, mentoring, family, general support, health & wellbeing and drugs & alcohol support.