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Monday 23 April 2018

Offender Engagement Case Study


Version: PS/OE/3/1.0


Author: Joe Woods


John’s story:

John (not his real name),  racked up convictions for 40 crimes between 1993 and 2009 ranging from theft and public order to drugs and firearms offences.


In that time the 39-year old served three prisons sentences totalling around four years for violence and drug dealing. It was upon release from the most recent sentence in 2009 that John was made part of our Priority and Prolific Offender (PPO) scheme.


In John's words:


"I was six years old when I first started doing crime. I shoplifted with my sister and did a burglary. We stole cheesecakes and ornaments and buried them in a field. I started hanging around with older people and that’s when I got arrested for ABH, commercial burglaries and criminal damage at age nine. I didn’t really give care about anything when I was growing up.


"At 13 I was excluded from school and sent to boarding school. This is when I started taking drugs. First I smoked cannabis and soon I was doing speed and ecstasy. After school at 16 I started stealing cars and carrying out commercial burglaries and by age 21 I had got in to crack and heroin. I was sent to prison for stabbing someone and served nine months of an 18 month sentence.


"Then came dealing heroin and crack for which I got four years prison. When I came out I continued to use heroin and also started drinking alcohol. Through being drunk I was charged with carrying a machete and spitting blood in a policeman’s face.


"They told me in jail that I was a PPO and I wasn’t impressed with that as I hated probation. I had to see probation three times a week. I’ve never stuck at probation when I’ve had it in the past, but on the PPO Scheme they helped me to find a place because I was homeless.


"They got the Three Oaks Trust to pay my rent arrears which enabled me to go on the Housing Register and be accepted by the Sussex Panel for supported allocated housing.


"There were times on the PPO Scheme that I thought that this wasn’t going anywhere and could have resulted in going back to my bad ways, but I stuck at it, and in the end probation were very helpful. I think if I hadn’t got housed this might be a different story, which is down to the PPO scheme.


"So now I’ve got a flat and I’m drink, drug and crime free. Life’s a little boring, but it’s a lot better than running around committing crime. I’m not looking over my shoulder all the time to see if the police are after me or being ill through withdrawing off drugs or being drunk all the time. Even if my life stays as it is I’m still doing better than I was three years ago. I don’t care if I lead a boring life until I die. Its like a weight lifted off my shoulders."



Pete’s story:

Pete has been convicted of numerous offences since 2006, including drink driving, criminal damage, public order, breaches, racially and religiously aggravated harassment, common assault, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, theft and drunk and disorderly.


He has also had problems with depression, alcohol and self harming.


Released from a prison sentence seven months ago, Pete began working with our Integrated Offender Management (IOM) team in Chichester and quickly stopped offending, a major change for a man with such an active criminal lifestyle.


Pete was referred by his offender management to Addaction, a specialist drug and alcohol treatment service, where Pete has worked very hard to address his substance misuse issues. So much so that he has been offered the opportunity to become a mentor.


He is now working with our Education, Training and Employment team to seek work and has registered with Working Links, which helps ex-offenders prepare for a return to paid employment. He has also received help and advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau to get accommodation help.



Simon's Story:  

Simon's Probation Officer writes:


"Throughout his order Simon attended supervision sessions without fail. He looked at his relationships and his behaviour and was open and honest about the strong feelings he had, that often presented themselves as anger.  He learnt new skills to enable him to recognise the warning signs and how to calm himself down.


"Simon talked openly about his family and gradually developed the ability to take other peoples perspectives, which in turn helped him to be less judgemental.


"Simon had made huge progress and was quite different to the very angry young man that arrived last summer.  He does know that he still has to work hard to keep his temper and that although he now has fairly regular contact with his mother, there is still some way to go to fully repair that relationship.


"It was a pleasure to work with his and a privilege to be able to provide the support he required at a difficult time in his life.  He says he is never coming back here’s hoping he’s right!"


Surrey & Sussex Probation Trust - Offender Case Studies


Task: Discuss what went right for John, Pete and Simon. How could the relationships built up by the workers on the IOM and PPO schemes and Probation Order have helped to change their situation/ behaviour/attitudes. What styles of intervention and engagement might they have used?





Here are some things to draw out:


The nature IOM offender engagement is predominantly voluntary. Imposing any change is likely to be unwelcome. How would you deal with that?


The case studies primarily focus on what the offender has done in practical terms to change their situation - Draw out from the group what tools they would use in developing a relationship which actively engaged with them?


Who in the IOM team would be best placed and most skilled to work with these offenders?


Would it be beneficial to have more than one member of the team working with the offender?


How would they plan their involvement – what form of planning would they use and how much would they involve the offender in developing the plan?


Get the group to identify what community agencies there are in your area that could be used to facilitate changes like John’s and Peter’s?