Innovative projects providing ‘targeted interventions’ to reduce reoffending recognised at awards

Successful schemes encouraging “desistance from crime” were celebrated as the winners of the 2022 Howard League Community Awards were announced on Tuesday (November 22).

Nov 22, 2022
By Paul Jacques

The awards are presented annually by the Howard League for Penal Reform to people and organisations whose innovative work keeps people out of the criminal justice system by providing “alternative, proportionate, effective and targeted interventions”.

Catryn Yousefi, programmes manager at the Howard League, said: “The Howard League Community Awards celebrate the incredible work being done within communities to provide targeted interventions and reduce the risk of reoffending.

“Every year, we are consistently blown away by the quality and range of entries, and are delighted to be able to honour some of the best schemes in the UK.

“These winners are committed to making our towns and cities safer, and show that we can change lives and reduce crime through innovative and pioneering projects.”

Dr Ben Bradford, chair of the Community Awards 2022 and trustee at the Howard League for Penal Reform, added: “These awards shine a light on the fantastic work done by the third sector, community groups and criminal justice agencies to divert people away from offending, provide rehabilitation, support victims and reduce crime.

“I am in awe of the commitment, ingenuity and enterprise on display, as well as, of course, of the results so many of the programmes and initiatives produce.”

The ‘Organisation of the Year’ award was shared by two entries – Willowdene Rehabilitation LTD and Working Chance.

For more than 30 years, Willowdene has been a pioneer of innovative rehabilitative solutions for men and women facing the complex issues that stem from a life filled with factors including offending behaviour, homelessness, poor mental health, substance misuse, and general disconnection from community and society at large.

Working Chance helps women with convictions to develop the confidence, skills and self-belief they need to overcome any barriers to their employment, find jobs and build careers. It works with organisations of all sizes across all sectors to find opportunities for women that align with their skills and aspirations.

The ‘Women’ category was won by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Liaison and Diversion, Alana House and Thames Valley Police for their Enrich project, which aims to reduce the number of women receiving custodial sentences.

Part-funded by Thames Valley Police and Berkshire Community Foundation, Enrich offers trauma-informed support to women with multiple needs. Piloting in Reading, the project will offer a community resolution to women with complex needs who have been arrested for committing low-level crime.

The Golden Key was the winner of the ‘racial disparities in youth justice’ category for The Call In, a project seeking to divert young people involved in drug-related offending away from the cycle of criminality by giving them the opportunity to take part in an intense six-month programme of mentoring, learning and activities.

The ‘Policing and children’ category was shared by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership and Thames Valley Restorative Justice.

The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership is helping the Government to deliver its serious violence strategy in response to national increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide. Its project, named Inclusion, involves a deferred prosecution pilot which builds on current Merseyside provisions for out of court disposals.

The Thames Valley Restorative Justice’s School Responder Project is currently being piloted in schools in Berkshire and Oxfordshire and seeks to prevent young people entering the criminal justice system where it is not necessary. This frees-up local policing to focus on other community issues, generally avoids escalation and can result in a more harmonious outcome for all concerned.

West Midlands Police and the region’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner won the top prize in the ‘Policing and adults’ category. Their Offender Rehabilitation Programme focuses on identifying people who have substance misuse issues and are prolific shoplifters and then helps them by dealing with the root cause of their offending.

The ‘Restorative approaches’ category was won by the West Midlands Restorative Justice Project. The project was established in 1996 with the simple aim of offering victims of crime the opportunity to engage in a restorative intervention with the person responsible.

It has developed a wide range of restorative approaches across the youth and adult criminal justice systems, within community settings and in response to conflict wherever it may arise.

The ‘Liaison and diversion’ category was won by West Mercia Police for its Steer Clear Project, which educates young people on the dangers of knife crime. It was funded via the West Mercia police and crime commissioner’s Community Fund.

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