Partner Hannah Jones, said, “By putting treatment programmes like this at the core of community sentences, it is hoped that this new initiative will ultimately help to reduce re-offending and improve rehabilitation”.
Justice and health services, initially in five pilot areas, have signed up to a new protocol that will help to divert relevant offenders away from frequently ineffective short-term custodial sentences and towards treatment that aims to tackle the root cause of their criminality. The pilot sites went live at various points in late 2017 and through 2018 – in Birmingham, Plymouth, Sefton, Milton Keynes and Northampton.
Psychologists will be present in the courts at these sites to assess offenders whose crime makes them eligible for a Community Order. Local panels comprising justice and health officials also ensure that Magistrates and Judges have the additional information they need to determine whether the offender should be required to receive treatment for their mental health, alcohol or drug issues.
Research shows that around 31% of offenders who start Community Orders are identified as having a drug misuse problem and 38% an alcohol misuse problem. A recently published study from MOJ found that when offenders were handed mental health treatment requirements as part of their sentence, they were significantly less likely to reoffend compared with similar cases where this was not the case. Despite this, the use of treatment requirements as part of community sentences currently remains very low.
Once the results of the trial sites have been assessed, it is intended that the scheme will be rolled out more widely across England.
If you would like assistance in relation to a criminal matter, call Hannah on 02392 820747 for further information.