QoL
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

An end-to-end approach to tackle drug-related offending

From 2013/14 newly elected Police & Crime Commissioners will have responsibility for community safety and Drugs Intervention Programme budgets and will be looking for new and effective ways to tackle drug-related problems. I’m hosting a series of posts from organisations who feel they have a successful model.

 

This week, Charlotte Talbot from Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust describes an integrated model.

 

Groundhog Day

Imagine this….you are a heroin user, arrested for a string of shop thefts and find yourself in the police station in front of a drugs arrest referral worker being offered treatment and support to address your problems. This is just what you need, you spend an hour telling the worker your life story, details of your childhood, your relationships, the details of your drug use and offending behaviour.

The next day you are in court, another drug worker comes to see you, they want to undertake an assessment to enable you to access treatment. You explain that you have already seen someone…apparently they are from a different team…you need the help so you spend an hour telling the worker your life story, details of your childhood, your relationships, the details of your drug use and offending behaviour.

You go into court and are remanded into custody.

Shortly after reception into the prison you are seen by a drugs worker, they want to undertake an assessment to enable you to access treatment…..a familiar picture?

This is the experience for so many substance misusers as they move through the criminal justice process, a lack of join-up, multiple assessments and massive frustration, but not in Leicester.

 

End-to-End

Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trusts (LRPT) Criminal Justice Drug Team (CJDT) is a fully integrated end-to-end service offering drug and alcohol treatment to substance misusers who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. The team offer services from the point of arrest, through court and sentencing, through the sentence whether it is in the community or the local prison, and post sentence. This continuity of care is one of the keys to the CJDT’s success. The other fundamental difference with this innovative criminal justice service is a genuine commitment to service user involvement – this is demonstrated through Mark’s experience…

Mutual support

Mark Warner is a 41 year old man with a long history of problematic alcohol use. From 2004 Mark was drinking up to 90 units of alcohol a day, he rarely ate, spent three periods in prison as a result of his alcohol abuse and in 2010 was given an 18 month community order with an alcohol treatment requirement to be delivered by the CJDT. Mark was allocated to a worker who saw his potential and was quickly identified as an ideal candidate for the service’s Peer Mentoring programme.

The Peer Mentoring programme has run within the team since 2009 and provides service users and ex service users with the opportunity to train to work as a mentor to other service users. Mark joined the scheme in July 2011 and successfully completed it moving onto work within the team helping others. During his time as a Peer Mentor LRPT were successful in a bid to deliver a non-criminal justice recovery service in Leicester City and Mark was keen to become involved. Mark has worked tirelessly alongside staff to develop plans and implement the new service and has recently been appointed into a paid position within the new ‘Quality of Life’ service.

Mark credits his success to the opportunity that he had to gain hope and to work with other Peer Mentors and then to be able to offer this support himself, he believes it is crucial that services are delivered in partnership with current and ex service users  – it is what has made him the person he is today…a completely different person he says! Mark’s story is just one of many.

Quality of Life

The Quality of Life (QoL) service takes service user (or member as we call them) involvement to the next level.  In most drug and alcohol services, decisions about how the service is run are made by a room full of professionals in isolation, most of whom have never experienced problems with drugs or alcohol.  Whilst they might have professional expertise they do not have the experiential expertise that service users have.

QoL is taking steps to address this by having the service governed by a board made up of a majority of service users and ex-service users.  The role of professionals is still absolutely vital, but genuine decision making is handed over to those who know best about the service….those who have been there and done it…..people like Mark.  Mark was elected by his peers to represent peer mentors on the board at QoL and now attends monthly board meetings, making decisions about premises, budgets, performance, strategy and much more.  Not only are the decisions made jointly between professionals and our members but most services are also delivered collaboratively.

The first person you meet when you walk through the doors of QoL is an ex-service user who is employed as a ‘Host’ taking the place of a traditional receptionist.  All of this has helped with the development of an emerging recovery community in Leicester.  Mark is living proof that recovery can be contagious and that by surrounding yourself by those in recovery within a supportive service, recovery is a more realistic goal for so many people.

 If you would like to find out more about the CJDT or QoL service please contact Charlotte Talbott on 01162575776 or Sarah Hancock-Smith on 01162389977.

You can check out QoL’s Facebook page here.

If your organisation has an effective approach to tackling drug-related crime, please get in touch. I’d be happy to host a post describing your model.

1 thought on “An end-to-end approach to tackle drug-related offending”

  1. This is a great approach. The emphasis on peer support from someone who has been there, and continuity of care, make a lot of sense.

    We see a lot of police resource in Devon and Cornwall spent dealing with people with long term dependency issues, most of it futile until we get the help they need, and incorporating previous service users would make that help all the more accessible and less stigmatising.

    Ivan Jordan
    PCC candidate Devon and Cornwall

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