Communities engaging with community service: the Making Good initiative

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Strathclyde]On: 06 October 2014, At: 13:57Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: MortimerHouse, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Criminal Justice MattersPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rcjm20

    Communities engaging with community service: theMaking Good initiativeDebbie ClarkePublished online: 13 Mar 2008.

    To cite this article: Debbie Clarke (2006) Communities engaging with community service: the Making Good initiative,Criminal Justice Matters, 64:1, 34-48, DOI: 10.1080/09627250608553191

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09627250608553191

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  • Communities engaging withcommunity service: the 'Making

    Good' initiativeDebbie Clarke looks at the Thames Valley pilot programme.

    The Criminal Justice Act 1972 first saw theintroduction of community service orders(CSOs), operational nationally by the mid1970s. CSOs were introduced following the WoottonReport which recommended their introduction as analternative to custody. A CSO required an offenderto complete between 40 and 240 hours of unpaidwork in the community. Over the past 30 years itsdelivery has become more structured and enforceablewith National Standards being introduced in 1989,giving formalized procedures for non- compliance ofan order. The latest changes came with the CriminalJustice Act 2003 where we saw the introductionof the Community Order with an unpaid workrequirement, increasing the total number of hoursan offender can be sentenced to 300. However thecore nature of community service has not changed,an offender must complete a specified number ofhours paying back to the community, the work mustbe challenging, and the punishment demanding.With the prison population continuing to rise wehear again from the Government that 'unpaid work',as community service is now known, must be morevisible to communities and the number of hoursordered nationally is set to double by 2011 (HomeOffice 2006).

    The offenders were aware thatthis was a community focusedproject and the communitywas aware that offenderssentenced to unpaid work wereundertaking the work.

    In 2001 The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation setup Rethinking Crime and Punishment (RCP), afour-year piece of research looking into the use ofprison and other alternative sentences, funding over50 separate projects nationally. The aim was to lookagain at the level of debate surrounding the evergrowing prison population and alternative forms ofpunishment. One of the key findings was that unpaidwork is not visible to the community and the publicand courts have little confidence in it as a sentence(RCP, 2004). We already know that unpaid work hasbeen around since the 1970s and yet the public isoften not aware that offenders are performing unpaidwork in their communities. What can be done to

    engage communities and courts in its delivery andwould doing so increase confidence?

    In 2005 the Thames Valley Partnership receivedfunding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation toundertake a three-year initiative looking at one of theRCP recommendations. 'RCP2 - Implementing theFindings', as it is known, has resulted in the 'MakingGood - Communities Engaging with CommunityService' programme. This is being piloted in foursites across the Thames Valley: Slough, Wycombe,Milton Keynes and Bicester. The programme seeksto work with communities to give the general publicmore say about what work is done by offenderssentenced to unpaid work. The aim of this is to seeif engaging with communities increases confidence inthe criminal justice system, and in particular unpaidwork.

    The pilot in Bicester will not only work with localcommunities but also explore extending the role ofthe Youth Referral Panels, currently used by the YouthOffending Team (YOT). In this area 'Making Good'will work closely with the YOT to delivery a morejoined-up approach to reparation regardless of ageand learn from the community-based approach ofthe referral panels in identifying local work for localoffenders. A young person can receive up to 24 hoursreparation and the guidelines for delivery are differentto that of the probation service. A project currentlybeing undertaken by the YOT is making slowerprogress than anticipated, so the Probation Service,through the Making Good project, is now workingin partnership with the YOT to complete the project.In just three work sessions, the unpaid work teamwith up to six adult offenders has helped the projectto progress and will continue to work with the YOTuntil completion.

    Community engagement is high on theGovernment's agenda. Several initiatives are inplace to encourage communities to have more say onissues that affect them. In November 2005 the HomeOffice launched the 'Community Payback' scheme.This aims to make the delivery of unpaid work morevisible, asking probation services nationally to badgethe work that offenders are completing. Roger Hill,Director for the National Probation Service forEngland and Wales, gave a speech at the launch ofCommunity Payback on 22nd November 2005. Hedescribed community engagement as "at it's simplestwe engage with local authorities through crime anddisorder reduction partnerships."

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  • 'The Millies', improved by unpaid work, Making Good project.

    Here we have a scheme that seeks to addressthe issues of visibility and community engagement,but is engagement with local authorities enough,can this be a sustainable model, and how does itcompare to the Making Good project?

    We also have the Neighbourhood Policingagenda. This allows the police, partner agenciesand the community to set up Neighbourhood ActionGroups (NAG) who meet to identify concerns in thecommunity. At first glance this could be a vehiclefor Making Good community engagement. Localpeople are invited to sit on a NAG following apublic meeting and identify three communityconcerns. It could easily be the case that one ormore of these concerns are areas of work for unpaidwork through probation. The use of NAGs is being

    explored in one ward within the pilot sites but theMaking Good project aims to explore a variety ofcommunity engagement models as well as NAGs.

    It was essential to the 'Making Good' initiativeto understand the local authority structures, rolesand responsibilities of staff and the role of electedmembers in the four pilot sites. The local authoritiescontinue to be partners in the delivery of MakingGood.

    Making Good aims to involve local people inthe choice of work done by offenders. We knowthat community service has been around for over30 years so where do those projects come from? InThames Valley projects are found in various ways

    Continued on page 48

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  • Continued from page 35

    - links with local authorities, referrals from existingplacement providers, web-site suggestions and'cold-calling' charities and voluntary organisations,selling the idea of unpaid work. The public may haveidentified some projects but this is not measured andoften the work identified is not suitable due to healthand safety requirements and the national standardsthe probation service must meet.

    Initial work with communities on the MakingGood project has highlighted that many membersof the general public do not know what unpaid workis. In various public meetings the only people whohad heard of it were placement providers of unpaidwork and a magistrate. This project aims to workwith existing community engagement structureswhere possible, to develop sustainable models andcreate community panels who will work closely withthe probation service. The panels will identify unpaidwork of relevance to the local community, workclosely with community organisations to supportplacements, inform the public about the work andprovide some accountability to the community forwork done by offenders. The panels will receivetraining so that they are best placed to inform thepublic and identify work.

    Slough is the first of the pilot sites where a panel

    existing community groups (or the lack of them)have been identified. Public meetings to introduce theproject have been met with enthusiasm and concern.There are no shortcuts to engaging communities. Ithas taken six months of meetings to discover whothe grassroots groups are and introduce the project.The types of work the public are identifying is tosome extent no surprise and nothing new for unpaidwork: removal of graffiti and litter, clearance ofwalkways, conservation. The Making Good projectmay continue to identify work that is the same as thecurrent delivery of unpaid work, but it seeks to makethe delivery look and feel different with established,sustainable links in place between communities andthe probation service.

    Not only has it been necessary to introduce theproject to the public but also to the unpaid work teamsin probation, who are very keen to engage with thepublic and complete work identified by them but donot have the mechanisms in place to achieve this, sothis is where the Making Good project steps in.

    The Making Good project is asking the unpaidwork teams to rethink project delivery and theprioritising of work. The Community Payback schemehas refocused unpaid work with regards to the typeof projects being undertaken and public awarenesshowever the level of community engagementand sustainability are not embedded within the

    The Making Good project may continue to identify workthat is the same as the current delivery of unpaid work,but it seeks to make the delivery look and feel differentwith established, sustainable links in place betweencommunities and the probation service.

    has been identified. Training began in July. Thepanel was identified following attendance at severalcommunity groups which kept leading back to theSlough Federation of Tenants and Residents (TheFed'). The Fed has already identified one projectthat is underway by the unpaid work team throughthe Making Good project. An area of land known as'The Millies', owned by the Wildlife Trust, was givento the local community to manage. The area sufferedfrom a lot of anti-social behaviour, with groupssetting random fires, dropping litter and hangingaround in gangs making the area feel unsafe for useby local people. The wildlife had all but disappeareddue to the number of fires and the community serviceteam was tasked with transforming the area. Theoffenders collected litter and navigated water viachannels from the river through to the marshland toencourage wildlife and discourage further fires. Anopen meeting was held and a voluntary group wasformed to continue maintenance of the land. Theoffenders were aware that this was a communityfocused project and the community was aware thatoffenders sentenced to unpaid work were undertakingthe work.

    Through working with the local authorities,

    Community Payback scheme. The Thames ValleyProbation Area continue to be valued key supportersand partners in the delivery of this project.

    Debbie Clarke is the Making Good ProgrammeManager for Thames Valley Partnership, secondedfrom Thames Valley Probation. Debbie's role withinthe Probation Service is as one of the QualityAssurance Managers (Unit Manager) for UnpaidWork.

    ReferencesHill, R. (2005), www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk/output/Page315. aspHome Office (2006), A Five Year Strategyfor Protecting the Public and Reducing Re-offending. London: The Stationery Office.www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/five-year-strategyRCP (2004), Rethinking Crime and Punishment- The Report. London: Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.www.rethinking.org.uk

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