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Crime scheme run by Surrey and Sussex Probation Trussaves £1million
A crime reduction scheme working with some of the county’s most prolific criminals has saved the taxpayer almost £1 million in two years and cut re-offending rates by more than half.
A “carrot and stick” approach led by Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust has been hailed a huge success following an academic report into its integrated offender management programme.
However, programme organisers have warned that plans to outsource probation services to private companies could impact on its future success.
The programme targets 500 of the most prolific and persistent offenders with a “carrot and stick approach” including drug and alcohol treatment, education and employment training and help with accommodation.
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A new study into the scheme by Sheffield Hallam University researchers reveals that the number of criminals re-offending within 12 months of conviction fell from one in three criminals to more than one in six of those involved on the course.
The programme, which also involves Sussex Police and local city and county councils, led to a 78% drop in reoffending compared to the predicted level of crimes committed.
The report established that for every £1 spent on the scheme, the taxpayer saved £1.78 in the costs of processing criminals through the criminal justice system as well as additional factors including the hospital treatment costs of victims of crime.
Nick Smart, chair of the Sussex Criminal Justice Board and chief executive of the probation trust, said: “We identify the most prolific and most likely to reoffend in Sussex and say to them if you continue offending we are going to know about it.
“We share information between all the voluntary and statutory bodies so anybody who you are in contact with will share information so if you are at risk of reoffending, we will take speedy action.”
But Mr Smart warned that Government proposals to outsource 70% of probation work out to private companies could hamper the scheme’s progress.
He said: “We wouldn’t want to suggest that private sector firms were not capable of this work but there is concern about the impact any restructuring could have on the success of this programme that took the best part of a decade to build up.”
Inspector Rachel Swinney, who has responsibility for co-ordinating the police role in the scheme, said: “As well as offering positive assistance in rehabilitation, swift deterrent measures can be taken against those offenders who do not comply with the conditions of the scheme.
“In addition to a fall in the rate of reoffending there is a significant reduction in cost to the Criminal Justice system.”
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