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Everyone s Business: Investigating the resettlement needs of black and minority ethnic ex-offenders in the West Midlands

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iness: Investigating the resettlement needs of black and minority ethnic ex-offenders in the West Midlan...

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Everyone’s Business: Investigating the resettlement needs of black and minority ethnic ex-offenders in the West Midlands

A REPORT COMMISSIONED BY THE PRISONER RESETTLEMENT STRATEGY GROUP GOVERNMENT OFFICE WEST MIDLANDS

Government Office for the West Midlands 5 St Philip’s Place,

Colmore Row,

Birmingham B3 2PW

January 2006

Professor Douglas Sharp,

Susie Atherton,

Kate Williams Centre for Criminal Justice Policy and Research

Everyone’s Business: Investigating the resettlement needs of black and minority ethnic ex-offenders in the West Midlands A REPORT COMMISSIONED BY THE PRISONER RESETTLEMENT STRATEGY GROUP GOVERNMENT OFFICE WEST MIDLANDS Professor Douglas Sharp,

Susie Atherton,

Kate Williams Centre for Criminal Justice Policy and Research

BME OFFENDER NEEDS REPORT

through the implementation of the West Midlands Reducing Reoffending Action Plan.

The Action Plan draws together the efforts of a wide range of partners to tackle issues that are known to reduce reoffending,

ranging from access to suitable housing to getting and keeping a job.

This Report makes a valuable contribution to the Plan in several ways.

It ensures that its implementation will be based on a better understanding of the experiences and needs of a group of offenders who make up a disproportionately large part of the offender – and in particular prison – population.

It confirms that the key elements of the successful resettlement and rehabilitation of offenders are equally applicable to all.

It makes helpful and specific recommendations as to how the Prison and Probation Services can ensure full and equal access to resettlement services by black and minority ethnic groups.

it stresses the role that is played by local voluntary,

in reconnecting offenders with those communities against whom they may have offended,

but whose support can be crucial in preventing further reoffending.

This is a role that will be encouraged and enhanced within the Action Plan in order to make its delivery relevant,

representative and effective for all offenders and the communities in which they live.

This approach is central to the development of the National Offender Management Service delivery structure both nationally and in the West Midlands region.

Steve Goode REGIONAL OFFENDER MANAGER

John Curtis HOME OFFICE REGIONAL DIRECTOR

CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

LIST OF TABLES

BACKGROUND

Education and Training

METHODOLOGY

RESULTS

Voluntary Organisations and Faith Based Services

Voluntary Organisations and Faith Based Services

CONCLUSIONS

APPENDICES

(i) ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The production of this report would not have been possible without the co-operation of all the participants involved including prison staff,

community organisations and the offenders and ex-offenders themselves.

We would also like to thank Patrick Donajdrodzki and Maria Holland for their invaluable assistance with organising the fieldwork,

Richard Taylor,

Lystra Hagley and Sally Marshall at Government Office West Midlands for their guidance and feedback.

Finally,

thanks to the other members of the research team,

Gurmit Heer and James Treadwell for their assistance with completing the fieldwork,

and to Adassa McCalla and Barbara McCalla for transcription and administrative support.

(ii) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This report investigates the timely and crucial issue of the resettlement needs of black and minority ethnic ex-offenders (BME) in the West Midlands.

Sections 1 and 2 provide an overview of the main issues and a profile specifically of the West Midlands region.

Section 3 outlines the methodology used,

including a mapping of service provision in the West Midlands region,

the use of interviews with offenders in local prisons and the community,

together with interviews with service providers.

Section 4 presents the key research findings from the mapping exercise,

interviews and collation of relevant statistics and section 5 presents the conclusions,

emerging issues for future exploration,

best practice guidelines and recommendations for a resettlement model.

The resettlement of ex-offenders is most certainly an important issue – the statistics on reconviction rates clearly illustrate the need to address this and consider how and why ex-offenders are failing to engage with resettlement services.

In 1997,

2002).

Since this time,

various strategies have been implemented to give prisoners access to education and training in prison,

establish and address their accommodations needs on release,

deal with healthcare problems such as problematic drug and/or alcohol use and,

give ex-offenders the resources they need to re-integrate back into their community.

The development of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is intended to merge the prison and probation service and provide a more integrated service to manage offenders in both prison and the community.

Key aims include reducing re-offending and also halting the rise of the prison population,

currently at 76,000 to a maximum of 80,000.

Cost-effectiveness is a key element of this new ‘correctional services market’ and it remains to be seen how effective this will be,

but also in improving current efforts to resettle ex-offenders.

Defining the meaning and aims of resettlement reflect the multidisciplinary nature of this issue,

which is further illustrated by the range of criminal justice agencies,

and voluntary services involved in helping ex-offenders and prevent them committing more crimes.

The risk factors associated with this include poor education,

mental health problems and problematic drug and alcohol use (Social Exclusion Unit,

2002,

Harper and Chitty,

2005).

These are exacerbated by prison sentences,

as prisoners are more likely to lose their homes and jobs,

disrupt education and lose contact with family.

The West Midlands is an ethnically and socio-economically diverse region.

Its’ population comprises a range of BME groups,

suburban and rural communities.

Within the city of Birmingham are deprived areas which experience relatively high levels of crime,

The response by the police is to increase awareness of diversity among officers – as has happened with renewed effort throughout England and Wales since the publication of the MacPherson Report and yet,

research has shown disproportionate levels of stop and search incidents among BME groups.

BME groups are over-represented throughout all stages of the criminal justice system,

again this is reflected throughout England and Wales,

making it necessary to better understand why this is happening,

can anything more be done to enable them to re-integrate back into their community

? The mapping exercise was intended to present a broad overview of services available for ex-offenders,

and included those provided in prisons,

through the probation service and voluntary and community-based groups,

along with faith based organisations.

Interviews were then carried out,

on a one-one basis with staff working for various service providers to reflect this range of organisations.

They were asked about their role,

the aims of their organisation and services provided,

their perceptions regarding the specific needs of BME groups and whether their organisation address this and what they,

would like to do to improve their services.

Interviews with offenders within prisons and the community were also conducted to establish their awareness and use of resettlement services,

what would help them the most,

any gaps they had identified and their hopes and fears about being released.

Demographic data on age,

ethnicity and length of sentence was also collated,

along with statistics on the prison population for the West Midlands region.

There were limitations with this research,

it is on a fairly small scale and excluded young offenders and foreign nationals.

Subsequently it was not possible to see if differences occurred due to age and gender,

but the findings presented issues for further exploration which are discussed later on.

The results of this study comprised a list of tables detailing the range of services available and their location within the West Midlands region (see Appendix C).

They also outline the role of the probation service and then discuss findings from the interviews with service providers,

Prison staff emphasised the development of links with the community and other agencies to prevent the ‘revolving door syndrome’ of re-offending and also the need for services within prison,

so that resettlement was an issue to be considered from the start of the sentence.

For BME offenders,

they generally felt they did not present additional needs,

but were subject to additional prejudices within society once they were labelled an ex-offender.

They recognised that BME offenders tended to seek support from faith-based and community organisations,

along with or instead of using criminal justice agencies,

Staff also identified the lack of social support may be a specific problem for BME groups,

and attempted to address this by replicate cultural and dietary needs in the prison and establishing links with groups outside the prison who could offer additional support.

However,

security considerations and quality of the prison estate could obstruct some attempts to accommodate prisoners needs.

Transferring prisoners proved disruptive to attempts to educate and train them and also caused problems for family visits,

particularly for women prisoners who were very often kept far away from home.

Resettlement staff in one of the prisons identified the value of making links with employers and businesses,

to alleviate concerns and change perceptions surrounding employing ex-offenders.

Many emphasised the need to disseminate best practice more effectively and allow effective initiatives to continue on a long term basis,

for example mentoring schemes,

which offer practical help and emotional support.

Probation staff also promoted the need to and their success in establishing links with the community and faith based services,

to offer ‘throughcare’ and prevent re-offending.

For BME ex-offenders,

there was no perception of racial discrimination in terms of accessing probation services,

but they did recognise the value in providing services for BME groups,

to overcome language barriers and acknowledge their different cultural values.

Probation staff felt frustrated at the lack of time they were given to spend with exoffenders and a lack of resources,

specifically good quality housing.

Staff wanted to be able to increase the employment opportunities for BME ex-offenders,

as they felt many faced a ‘double stigma’ in terms of their race and criminal record.

They also felt mentoring and counselling services would be very useful to offer more support for ex-offenders.

Community,

voluntary and faith-based services range from information and advice providers,

counselling services and pastoral care.

They offer assistance with housing and employment (e.g.

NACRO,

CLINKS,

Prison Link,

The Host Corporation)

Community Roots,

Business Enterprises Support Ltd)

services for problematic drug and alcohol users (e.g.

BORRIS project in Solihull) and spiritual support and counselling (e.g.

Bringing Hope,

and the North Staffordshire Community Chaplaincy Project).

They identified the needs of BME ex-offenders as stemming from their experiences in the community,

which were attributed to deprivation and lack of opportunity,

but also gang culture and the violence associated with it.

They also felt among this group,

state provisions and support from prisons and probation services were not effective,

often due to mistrust and also the stigma attached to being an ex-offender.

Therefore,

BME ex-offenders needed to seek out other sources of support,

either through voluntary groups or faith based groups particularly if they had little or no support from family.

Funding was a key problem for such groups and many counted raising funds as a key part of their work,

in order to avoid projects being disrupted.

Information sharing with criminal justice agencies was also cited as a problem,

as was keeping client’s details up to date.

Lack of awareness among voluntary,

community and faith based groups was also reported to impede the resettlement of offenders,

particularly those from BME groups who were finding it difficult to engage with the probation service.

Again,

mentoring services were seen as a vital part of the way forward in addressing the needs of ex-offenders,

specifically using peer group mentors for those involved in gang related violence.

Interviews with offenders and ex-offenders revealed some key needs,

which have been identified in previous research and a range of problems and constraints,

already discussed from the interviews with service providers.

Housing was a major concern,

and seen by many offenders as the first step towards resettlement,

would obstruct any further efforts to help them.

Drug rehabilitation services were also cited as important,

to carry on the treatment many had accessed in prison.

Employment and training opportunities was seen by many as a further stage in resettlement,

but still important to give ex-offenders more realistic options to divert them from re-offending.

They emphasised not only the need for financial support,

but also social support which could be provided through employment and training,

as well as counselling and mentoring services.

Many felt barriers to accessing services included lack of awareness,

For some offenders,

concerns about the lack of immediate support on release made them fearful about leaving prison,

where they felt safe and in control of their lives.

Within prison,

some offenders reported they had been transferred,

which had disrupted any efforts they and prison staff had made to assist them with their rehabilitation and resettlement.

The majority of interviewees did not cite racial discrimination as a particular problem,

differences did exist in the sources of support they sought out.

The main conclusions and recommendations include:-

• Prisons: the need for prison staff to continue establishing and publicising links with community,

voluntary and faith based services and ideally a clearly designated,

accessible space with facilities for offenders to use in preparing for resettlement

Table 1:

Prison resettlement services in the institutions visited

Table 2:

Community based services for ex-offenders

• Housing as a priority need should be addressed

together with financial requirements and drug rehabilitation strategies immediately on release

Table 3:

Community based services addressing the needs of BME groups

• The need for the Probation Service to endeavour to share information more clearly and effectively with other service providers

Table 4:

Faith-based organisations providing support for ex-offenders

• The need for prison and probation to attempt to extend their contact with potential employers

Table 5:

Community based services for assistance with housing

• Community and voluntary based providers should where possible promote their services more widely to statutory providers,

offenders and the community as a whole,

together with generally taking a more proactive stance including continuing to make contact with prisoners prior to their release

Table 6:

Community based services for assistance with employment and training

Table 7:

Community based services for assistance with mental health needs

• Matters of racial discrimination need to continue to be addressed generally.

Table 8:

Community based services to assist problematic drug and alcohol users

Issues for further exploration have been identified by this research,

including the needs of foreign nationals

the impact of shortterm sentences and their appropriateness

the use of imprisonment generally,

especially for problematic drug and alcohol users and women and wider problems of racism in the criminal justice system and society.

Table 9:

Community based services addressing women’s needs

Table 10: Counselling and general support services in the community Table 11: Sample achieved for female offenders Table 12: Sample achieved for male offenders

INTRODUCTION “Reducing re-offending is not just a criminal justice issue: It is a health issue,

an employment issue and a housing issue.

Resettlement is in short,

everyone’s business” (Senior,

Surprisingly,

desistance from crime and the fundamental role that effective resettlement from prison has within this has only been given real attention in recent years,

despite growing concerns over the rising prison population,

the chronic nature of re-offending and diminishing confidence in the criminal justice system.

Of major importance within this arena is the disproportionate amount of offenders from BME groups that are currently in prison.

Although it can be argued that these facts relate to wider societal issues,

effective resettlement of BME prisoners may begin to address matters by preventing further re-offending.

This research therefore,

aims to help establish the resettlement needs of BME ex-offenders,

together with mapping what support is available,

It was commissioned as part of the West Midlands resettlement for ex-offenders strategy,

in order to explore whether ex-offenders from BME groups present different or additional needs to others.

Establishing such needs may identify where gaps exist in service provision,

but would also provide a better understanding as to why BME groups are over-represented in the criminal justice system as a whole and if they are disadvantaged further when accessing resettlement services.

The primary aims of the research are as follows: • To identify the resettlement needs of BME prisoners • To map the types of support available to BME prisoners and ex-offenders • To highlight examples of both good practice and gaps within existing service provision • To work towards the development of a BME resettlement model through recommendations based upon the research findings

BACKGROUND This section considers the range of issues surrounding the resettlement of ex-offenders,

in terms of recent policy changes,

risk factors associated with re-offending and previous research findings.

the Prison Service and DFES (then the DfEE) established a new partnership and forged links with the Youth Justice Board and Probation Service to promote coherence in the various strategies adopted to reduce re-offending and support the resettlement of offenders.

They focused primarily on giving prisoners access to education and training in prison and on providing them with the skills and attributes required to hold down a job and re-integrate into their community on release.

The partnership’s key objectives included assessing the needs of prisoners,

providing access to services and incentives to change and supporting them post-release.

Significant progress was expected to be achieved by the end of 2005,

which would involve all agencies in dealing with offender management,

employers and health services.

In June 2004,

after recommendations from the Carter Report,

the government agreed to merge the prison and probation service into the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

It is due to be functional within 5 years,

and is responsible for the management and supervision of offenders,

both in custody and on community based penalties.

One of its primary aims is to reduce re-offending by 10% and another is to limit the rise in prison numbers to 80,000 with 240,000 under community supervision.

In 1997,

Re-offending costs society £11 billion per year

2002).

How can this be achieved

? It has been recognised that in terms of the resettlement of offenders,

and subsequently the reduction of re-offending,

there are specific groups which present a higher risk and greater vulnerability in terms of their needs.

The NOMS will 1

attempt to address the gaps in service provision which exclude such groups,

problematic drug and alcohol users,

female offenders and BME groups.

The Government is proposing to provide cost-effective services in a ‘market for correctional services’ (NACRO,

2004).

Voluntary and community services will have to compete with public and private organisations for contracts to manage and supervise offenders.

Regional Management Boards,

headed by Regional Offender Managers will report centrally to NOMS,

and will be responsible for managing correctional services in a wide geographical area.

Offenders are to have ‘end to end management’ with provisions that they serve their sentence as close as possible to their community.

Although some obvious intended improvements are emerging,

with the ‘community model’ of imprisonment keeping offenders closer to home,

and ‘end to end’ management’,

there still remain some concerns as how well these major changes will be implemented.

Bidding for contracts based on cost effectiveness may exclude some voluntary services who lack the resources to present a ‘business plan’ of how they will achieve their aims.

It also disregards notions of looking at standards of service,

value to the clients and the experience of offenders themselves.

Also,

if they are short term contracts,

sustaining resettlement services will depend on successful bidding and renewal of contracts

this could prove extremely disruptive to clients accessing such services.

Furthermore,

if contracts are awarded outside local authority control,

it is feasible that they will not regard the resettlement of offenders as a priority,

2004).

Regional management on a large scale could become problematic in terms of establishing and maintaining links with local services on a day-to-day basis.

This could have implications for sufficient local representation on boards and in policy decisions.

Regional Offender Managers will have set targets to achieve and a wide area of responsibility.

On that basis they may be more likely to stick to tried and tested methods of offender management,

as oppose to using research to uncover more innovative approaches.

Sentencing practice inevitably impacts on the rising prison population,

more so for some groups than others,

and yet offender managers have been described as ‘breach agents’ in that they will act as enforcers who are more likely to put offenders back into custody if they breach a community order (NACRO,

2004).

It can be argued that the Criminal Justice Act (2003) is undoing much of the resettlement work and forging of partnerships recommended by the DfES,

prison and probation services and the Youth Justice Board.

New penalties,

including intermittent custody will disrupt community roots and access to services,

as well as social support links.

According to reports by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO),

the introduction of NOMS seems to further exacerbate the problem by concentrating on management of offenders,

large-scale regional boards and a correctional services market.

Arguably,

none of these measures presents long-term,

sustainable initiatives to fully address offenders’ resettlement needs,

and could be interpreted as short-term,

knee-jerk reactions to media pressure to be seen to be dealing with offenders.

In the light of such changes and concern about their impact it is now more important to fully establish the needs of offenders,

in order to begin to address the need to reduce re-offending.

? A stated aim of resettlement is the ‘effective re-integration of imprisoned offenders back into the community’ (Gelsthorpe,

2004).

Definitions which attempt to explain the aims of resettlement cross economic,

social and psychological boundaries,

which reflect the multidisciplinary nature and range of issues inherent in attempting to prevent re-offending.

Reintegration embraces reconciliation,

or ‘reintegration into the moral/social community as well as physical community.’ At the end of this process is the need for ‘de-labelling’ and desistance which can only occur when the efforts being made by exoffenders are recognised by others (Maruna,

2004).

However,

it is clear that many ex-offenders’ needs are not being addressed as re-offending statistics indicate an ongoing problem.

either by criminal justice or community-based interventions.

This section identifies key factors from research findings associated with re-offending.

These include poor education,

mental health problems and problematic drug and alcohol use (Social Exclusion Unit,

2002,

Harper and Chitty,

2005).

In addition,

there is considerable risk associated with prison sentences themselves,

in that a third of prisoners lose their house while inside,

over a fifth face financial difficulties and over two fifths lose contact with their family (Social Exclusion Unit,

2002).

Indeed there is a ‘growing consensus that we are sending some people to prison who should not be there’ (Social Exclusion Unit 2002).

Those identified as particularly vulnerable are prisoners on short-term sentences,

problematic drug and alcohol users and foreign nationals.

2000,

Grimshaw et al,

An analys