Catch22 has responded to the recent Public Accounts Committee Inquiry looking into how resettlement support can be improved to both limit the likelihood of reoffending and minimise its associated costs.
Reoffending has significant costs to both society and communities, as outlined by the recent National Audit Office report into “Improving Resettlement Support for Prison Leavers to Reduce Reoffending“. This includes direct financial losses to victims and the costs that the criminal justice system must meet, from running police investigations and court hearings, to holding offenders in prisons and ensuring their effective supervision in the community. In 2019, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) estimated that reoffending across all adult offenders identified in 2016 had cost society £16.7 billion (in 2017-18 prices).
Prison leavers are more likely to reoffend if they are not resettled into the community, for example if they have nowhere to live, no job or other income, and have poor continuity of healthcare. HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), and the organisations, like Catch22, that they commission to deliver services, aim to minimise the risk of this through their resettlement work.
- Provide rehabilitative alternatives to Fixed Term Recalls
- Introduce longer term commissioning
- Streamline the vetting process
- Reinvest in and reimagine preventative work
- Drive the co-location of services that support prison leavers
For over 200 years Catch22 has designed and delivered services that build resilience and aspiration in people and communities. Catch22 delivers offender management, rehabilitation, resettlement and gangs work in prisons and in the community. We also run several successful victims services, providing emotional and practical support to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. In 2021-2022, we supported 45,100 service users in total.
At the heart of our rehabilitative, restorative and effective systems is the belief that relationships are crucial to effective desistance from crime. Through efficient case management and the development of high-quality relationships, we focus on reducing reoffending and ensuring positive long-term outcomes. We believe that there is a myriad of areas across the criminal justice system (CJS) that can be adapted to both improve resettlement outcomes as well as cut public costs. This response will outline some of those key areas:
1. Provide rehabilitative alternatives to Fixed Term Recalls (FTRs)
In the year from April 2021 to March 2022, there were 22,378 license recalls to custody in the UK. The National Offender Management Bulletin states that 7 in 10 recalls are due to noncompliance.
- Fixed Term Recalls often lack a rehabilitative focus to address the root causes of non-compliance and can often contribute to the breakdown in relationships between People on Probation and Probation Officers, thus increasing the potential of an escalation in crime.
- They also contribute to the ever-increasing prison population, despite being placed in custody for non-compliance issues rather than a public protection issue.
- There is a huge cost attached to Fixed Term Recalls – the Behavioural Insights Team suggests that the approximate cost of a 28-day recall, including executing the warrant, is £3,400.
- This means that in the year from April 2021 to March 2022 alone the direct cost of Fixed Term Recalls would have been £53,257,600.
Catch22’s Achieving Compliance and Engagement (ACE) pilot, designed as a unique delivery model and funded by the Local Leadership and Integration Fund (LLIF), aims to reduce reoffending and the use of Fixed Term Recalls for male prison leavers across London who fulfil risk criteria that makes them vulnerable to non-engagement with license conditions. As opposed to taking a punitive approach to non-engagement, the service provides a rehabilitative, strengths-based approach to addressing the resettlement needs of People on Probation. These needs, which may have previously been neglected due to short periods of time in custody, are likely to be a contributory factor to their non-compliance.
We believe the government should seek to increase the availability & uptake of rehabilitative alternatives to Fixed Term Recalls, which herd people into a revolving door of offending.
2. Introduce longer term commissioning
Commissioning mechanisms make resettlement work carried out by services contracted in short-term cycles (like many of those Catch22 deliver) challenging.
- Often resettlement work is subject to short term contracts and year-on-year funding agreements which threaten long-term strategic planning.
- Short contract lengths, coupled with sometimes limited funding, results in commissioned services struggling to become embedded and effective.
- Because of funding uncertainly, there is also an impact on attracting and retaining the best talent to work on such contracts. The knock-on effect that staffing attrition has on contract impact and relational continuity can be considerable and costly.
- Furthermore, the bidding process itself for contracts across the sector is complex, timely and expensive, which often excludes smaller and grassroot charities, who are often the best placed to deliver the work, from being able to compete.
Delivery organisations, which rely on annually assigned funding streams, bear the risk and burden of such uncertainty. It would be beneficial to the sector, and offer a more costeffective service, for funding to be issued in longer-term chunks, such that frontline services can operate with longer-term security and time to embed, adapt and improve their delivery.
3. Streamline the vetting process
It is absolutely of paramount importance that the appropriate level of vetting is upheld in order to ensure the safety and security of services working across the criminal justice system to support prison leavers are maintained. However, the sector has acknowledged that probation is in a recruitment crisis, with prisons, commissioned rehabilitative services, prison education etc. also operating at reduced capacity.
Because of the complex and lengthy vetting mechanism, and long onboarding processes, it means that the system is always trying to backfill vacancies.
This not only results in a high dependency on often-expensive agency work, but it can impact relational continuity and hence the outcomes service users are supported to achieve.
People with Lived Experience, whose insight would be of huge value as key influencers and decision-makers within the sector, also face huge challenge in working in the criminal justice system, from extensive vetting procedures to hostile workplace cultures.
We believe that the government should work to streamline the vetting process such that the prison and community operational workforce, who support resettlement and rehabilitation, can be maintained at an adequate and sufficient level to ensure that high quality work takes place stably and sustainably.
4. Reinvest in and reimagine preventative work
Early intervention/preventative services have seen their funding cut year on year, with commissioners instead placing the focus on intervention.
- Prevention focuses on addressing the root causes and risk factors that contribute to criminal behaviour and interrupting the cycle of crime to reduce the need for intervention later on.
- An investment in prevention strategies such as early childhood programs, educational initiatives, community development, and targeted interventions, reduces crime rates, resulting in cost savings associated with investigations, prosecutions, court proceedings, and incarceration.
- In our experience delivering services directed at diverting students on a path to school exclusion, it has been difficult to measure and prove what “good” looks like for these preventative services, since the desired outcome is “no crime”.
We urge the justice system to reimagine the best ways of reporting on positive impact of early intervention, which will allow for greater commissioner confidence as to the upstream value of such services.
5. Drive the co-location of services that support prison leavers
We have experienced the value, for both commissioners and prison leavers, of co-locating services.
- Catch22 has seen first-hand the benefits of rehabilitative support services being embedded/co-located in prisons. Such an approach supports better multi-agency working with other key stakeholders, improved access to people in prison and maximises the amount of purposeful activity that can take place prior to release.
- Catch22’s experience delivering both integrated and in-reach support models provide us with the insight as to how such a collocated approach has removed some of the systemic barriers that exists between custody and community and, when achieved successfully, allows genuine Through-the-Gate support which we know yields the best outcomes.
- Another example is in Grand Avenues in Cardiff, to overcome the high rates of recidivism in the area that resulted in part due to silo working of organisations, are supporting people on probation via community hubs, in which probation practitioners work closely with local community partners to minimise those falling through the cracks.
- This also reduces duplication of support which is costly to the sector.
- Catch22 has also trialled, and now expanded, the practice of placing one of our Personal Wellbeing staff members on secondment into the local probation service. Such co-locations has streamlined and increased appropriate referrals between organisations, enabled the sharing of resources and best practice, and ultimately provide better value for the service user.