HAVING slashed offending by more than 30%, the crime busters taking on the county’s toughest cases could see their success so far stalled.
The Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme – which puts police, probation, drug treatment and housing together – achieved that 30% reduction amongst the 50 previously prolific criminals it supervises.
But the county’s latest community safety strategy document warns that the partners are “mindful” of the impact changes to probation services will have on their work.
West Mercia Probation Trust has been replaced by a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) for West Mercia and Warwickshire and National Probation Service (NPS) as part of the government’s “Transforming Rehabilitation” programme.
This new arrangement makes the NPS responsible for high risk offenders and youth offending, with CRCs responsible for managing the majority of offenders and delivering schemes such as community payback and programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse.
There are also plans for changes to rehabilitation initiatives.
The strategy recognises “a number of challenges” in this, specifically around information sharing, capacity to participate, and the need for the winning CRC contractor to have a full understanding of local context.
Against this background, IOM achieved what the strategy recognises as a “significant” reduction in offending over 2013-14 compared to the previous year.
The coming changes, however, may impact on the effectiveness of the IOM approach and reoffending rates, the strategy warns.
Over 2013-14 IOM established a multiagency “hub” at Hereford central police station where police, and drug treatment services work together.
A related initiative provided by Herefordshire Housing (HH) - which has difficult to house IOM members are provided with accommodation in specially allocated properties is seen as an example to the rest of West Mercia.
Tenants are is closely assisted and supervised by HH staff in these properties with a view to moving them on when ready.
Over the year a number of IOM members have volunteered with some finding work.
The Hereford Times has previously reported the creation of the Transformers football team that has members playing alongside their police and probation supervisors in an official league, leading to what the strategy recognises as “notable improvements” in behaviour.