POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER FOR BEDFORDSHIRE
Title and Reference – PCC/D/103
Subject: Allocation of funds for an Early Intervention and Reducing Reoffending Project – HMP Bedford
Report of: Police and Crime Commissioner
The following decision paper was presented to and approved the PCC in quarter 4 of 2022- 2023, outlining the need, and relevance of a project regarding early intervention and prevention of reoffending in HMP Bedford. Approval was received from the PCC and SLT to progress a project with HMP Bedford to respond to the internal crime rate and conflicts which arise between prisoners.
Prevention of Reoffending – HMP Bedford – CSF B990 – £50,000
Description of Service:
A direct award will be made to HMP Bedford to commission/deliver project in partnership with providers of support which respond to at least one of the 7 pathways to reduce reoffending, with a focus on accommodation, attitudes, thinking and behaviour, drugs and alcohol and education, training and employment which are not direct responsibilities of the prison. The provider/ providers partnered with would require a local knowledge of Bedfordshire and the vulnerabilities present which will inform the process of rehabilitation and release.
His Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Bedford has a capacity of up to 500 prisoners serving Bedfordshire and surrounding areas including Northamptonshire. HMP Bedford is an all-male prison with no transgender prisoners at present and all prisoners are over the age of 18. At present the prison has 347 prisoners, 44 of which are youths aged between 18–21-year-old. Of the 44 youths, 32 prisoners are supported in the youth unit. Most males in HMP Bedford are aged between 22-49 equating to 78.96% of the prison population, 12.68% of the prisoner population are aged between 18-21 and 8.36% are aged over 50 years old with 1 prisoner being over 70years old. The age demographics are proportionate with the age demographic of Bedfordshire, with a higher number of people aged 0-59 than the national average.
Between 2022/2023 HMP Bedford were funded to complete WAVE Trauma Informed Practice training with their operational staff with the aim of improving interactions with prisons and therefore improving prisoner behaviour. Since the WAVE Trauma Informed Practice and the introduction of the youth unit, there has been a significant improvement in violence in HMP Bedford from prisoners and there has been a reduction in use of force incidents. Despite the improvements seen however, HMP Bedford continues to experience a high level of violence.
With an aim to prevent the cycle of re-offending prisons often have reformation or rehabilitation programmes to support prisoners in developing social networks, improve problem solving and to enable self-efficacy.
There are 7 pathways to reducing reoffending which are:
Accommodation – getting offenders into accommodation is the foundation for rehabilitation and can factor in other crucial steps to rehabilitation such as finding employment and accessing healthcare.
Attitudes, thinking and behaviour – prisons can influence the thinking and behaviour of prisoners in their care through projects/ initiatives that support prisoners to develop social networks, and improve problem solving.
Children and family – children/family pathways are important for rehabilitation to support normality and to prevent intergenerational offending by reducing family stressors.
Drugs and alcohol – one survey showed that 69% of arrestees had drugs present in their system, prisons would benefit from introducing projects/ initiatives internally to support prisoners’ rehabilitation.
Education, training, and employment – employment upon release is crucial for stability and can influence a person’s ability to find accommodation.
Finance, benefits, and debt – financial stability can reduce re-offending by offering stability improving access to accommodation.
Health – It is the prisons responsibility to ensure that prisoners have access to proper health care equitable to NHS healthcare prison available in a non-prison setting. Many offenders have mental health needs, access to health support it key to reducing reoffending as severe mental health concerns and personality disorders can relate to serious offending.
In the UK over 25% of offenders were reported to reoffend in 2021. According to governmental statistics, Black offenders have the highest rate of reoffending with 32.7%, White offenders had the second highest reoffending rate at 30.6%, across all ethnic groups. Young offenders had a higher reoffending rate than adults. Whilst White offenders had the second highest rate for reoffending, they had the highest number of reoffences per person on average at 4.17 crimes per person. Overall prison populations have risen by 70% in the last 30 years expressing an increasing demand that could be improved through a reduction in reoffending, the rise is expected to continue with a further 20,000 prisoners anticipated in the next 4 years.
Between 2020/2021 only 56% of people released from prison has settled accommodation upon release and roughly 14% were homeless upon release, people serving sentences under 12 months and those aged between 40-49 are more likely to be released homeless. A later report stated that for adults leaving prison between 2019/2020, 65% of those without settled accommodation had reoffended within 12 months compared to 44% who had settled accommodation. Furthermore, only 16% of people released from prison are in employment 6 weeks after leaving prison and after 6 months this figure rises to 23%, these figures also represent an increase of 10% and 14% respectively from the previous year.
Police and Crime Plan:
The Police and Crime Plan priority 3 has a focus on tackling the causes of crime and breaking the cycle of reoffending.
Considerations of Partnership Work:
HMP Bedford would be required to work in partnership with the provider/ providers of the projects being delivered. There would also be an expectation that these projects would align with the aspiration to become a restorative prison, please see below.
Route to Market/Delivery:
A direct award will be made to HMP Bedford to commission a project/project in partnership with providers of support which respond to at least one of the 7 pathways to reduce reoffending, with a focus on accommodation, attitudes, thinking and behaviour, drugs and alcohol and education, training and employment which are not direct responsibilities of the prison.
Long Term Considerations:
The OPCC and HMP Bedford will look to establish a working group to determine focus areas and funding allocations. The 12-month allocation will allow time for evidence to be gathered, to inform future commissioning decisions in this area.
A project was initiated with HMP Bedford with the ambition of responding to the true needs of the prison, responding to criminality and internal animosity which was most resource intensive.
HMP Bedford were asked to submit a proposal with a budget of up to £50,000 to respond to the crime rates with the aim of reducing criminality in prison and increasing the chance of successful integration into the community upon release.
HMP Bedford have 6 priorities, the proposal seeks to respond to all 6 priorities, improving the communication with a specific cohort of prisoners which require the greatest resource due to their transient nature. The proposal suggests that an assertive outreach team would be best placed to provide specialist support to the transient cohort. It is proposed that the nature of support will be offered on a scale relating to need/risk and level of engagement.
The proposal consists of funding for a prison officer which will be dedicated to the assertive outreach team to respond to the transient cohort. The proposal will be further supported by a Registered psychologist and a Registered Mental health Nurse which are to be sourced externally by the Prison in response to the health needs assessment for HMP Bedford which identified several recommendations for services needed at the prison one of which is a specific recommendation for the development of a service for the cohort of prisoners who are in crisis but fall outside the remit of the prison in reach service. Which predominantly involves those who are transient.
The assertive outreach programme was developed following a review of a case study in another Prison which operates an Enhanced Support Service (ESS)aligned to the Offender Personality Disorder pathway, adapting the model to become relevant to HMP Bedford.
Recruitment for a Prison officer will be completed following an internal process, offering the role to those interested and with the relevant skills. The role will be presented at the cost of a core band 3 Prison officer, £44,758.00 with the role being attractive due to the weekday working time and development opportunity. During the funding period, activity will be monitored and evaluated by HMP Bedford to form an internal cost benefit analysis. The analysis will be used to form a decision paper to the Governor/ Deputy Governor to formalise this model into the Prison structure moving forward.
To note decision
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
I hereby approve the recommendations above.