PCCs Generation 2.0
Clinks and the Revolving Doors Agency have jointly produced a useful new document aimed at candidates for next month’s PCC elections: Police and Crime Commissioners Generation 2.0: How you can work with the voluntary sector to cut crime.
The briefing outlines nine key areas and activities which the two organisations believe PCC candidates should prioritise in their election manifesto and police and crime plan once elected. The document also provides existing examples of best practice in each of these 9 aspects.
The nine areas and the document’s recommendations are set out below.
Take the lead in engaging the voluntary sector
PCCs should take the lead on developing structures to facilitate strategic engagement between statutory agencies and the local voluntary sector. Doing this can help PCCs fulfil their community safety and criminal justice duties to work with other statutory bodies, as well as their duty to engage with victims and members of the public.
This could be through supporting a local organisation to coordinate a voluntary sector network, by chairing a forum of statutory, private and voluntary organisations providing criminal justice and community safety services or even by seconding a member of staff from the voluntary sector into the PCC’s office to act as a single point of contact with the voluntary sector.
Exemplify best practice in commissioning
PCCs should take the lead locally in joining up with other commissioners and setting an example by involving the voluntary sector in all aspects of
commissioning. This might include, for example, ensuring fair and transparent processes for procurement – including consideration of contract size, whether a contract or a grant would be the most appropriate commissioning model, and consideration of social value in funding decisions.
Cutting crime means reducing reoffending
Supporting offenders to desist from crime is not just a job for prisons and probation. PCCs also have a clear interest in reducing reoffending as part of their overall mission to cut crime.
The voluntary sector has developed flexible and person-centred services, often delivered at a local level by highly trained staff and volunteers. This work makes a vital contribution to community safety, and deserves support.
Recognise the importance of race
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people are over represented at every stage of the Criminal Justice System, from stop and search to the prison population.
Voluntary sector organisations based within communities are able to develop and provide tailored services to people from BAME backgrounds. Working in partnership with statutory agencies, these groups are able to enhance effective policing by improving community perceptions, leading to increased levels of trust, better engagement and improved community safety outcomes.
However, these grassroots initiatives have been particularly affected by cuts in public spending and rapid changes to the local policy and commissioning environment.
Support people with multiple and complex needs
People in contact with the Criminal Justice System often face multiple and complex needs that require support from a range of agencies.
People commonly face a combination of homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse, mental ill health and associated problems with benefits and debt.
These issues may be low-level and manageable when looked at separately, but in combination complicate and exacerbate each other to the point where the impact on a person’s life is severe. Services too often fail to make these connections, or struggle to get their clients the right help because of problems with service thresholds, capacity and long waiting lists. This means that people do not get the support they need.
PCCs need to lead on this issue to make sure that people with complex needs don’t end up with an escalation of problems and, in particular, repeated contact with the police and Criminal Justice System.
Support gender specific responses to women and girls
The women and girls who enter the Criminal Justice System are known to have very different needs to men and many are victims too. The voluntary sector has developed gender specific responses to this challenge, including through dedicated women’s centres that deliver a holistic package of support in a safe and women-only environment.
Recognise young adults as a distinct group
Young adults, aged 18-25, account for less than 10% of the general population but make up a third of those involved in the Criminal Justice System and are the group most likely to reoffend. But they are also the group most likely to desist from crime with the right support.
Despite this, the voluntary sector has driven and developed a range of local interventions for young adults which have led to improved outcomes.
PCCs should support the further development and implementation of local approaches to young adults that work across the arbitrary divide of youth and adult justice services.
Listen and respond to people with lived experience
The people and families who have experience of the Criminal Justice System are a vital, and often untapped, source of intelligence about how community safety services can be improved.
This is both in relation to how to reduce reoffending, and to how they could have been supported to change their behaviour before they entered the Criminal Justice System in the first place.
The voluntary sector promotes a number of innovative models for engaging with these ‘experts by experience’, in order to listen to their views and involve them in service design.
PCCs should consult with all those who have direct experience of the services they deliver, including offenders.
Be a championfor volunteering in the CJS
The voluntary sector recruits, trains and manages committed and passionate local people as volunteers. Volunteers provide a bridge between communities and the Criminal Justice System, engaging and motivating people to desist from crime. This includes peer volunteering where people with lived experience of the CJS provide practical advice and support to others.
Volunteering is freely given, but not cost free. It requires ongoing investment to ensure quality recruitment, training and supervision can be maintained.
PCCs are in an excellent position to champion positive, sustainable, responsible voluntary action across all parts of their local Criminal Justice System.
On this last point, there is a volunteer section on my new Jobs Board.
Organisations wanting to recruit volunteers to work in the criminal justice system are encouraged to Email me to get a free advert.