Offenders

Offenders 

An individual who is convicted by the criminal justice system as having committed a crime, violated a law or transgressed a code of conduct is referred to as an “offender”.

 

This chapter considers the population and health of “offenders” in the Wokingham Borough.

     

Generally offenders are a socially disenfranchised group who are far more likely to have mental illness, learning disability, substance or alcohol misuse, poor educational achievement and unemployment than the general population. 

     

Following the Transforming Rehabilitation reform programme the way offenders are managed in the community has changed. Since the 1st June 2014, Probation Trusts have been replaced by the National Probation Service (NPS), which manages the most high-risk offenders across seven divisions; and 21 new Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), who manage medium and low-risk offenders.

     

Information taken from the Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company health and wellbeing reports show that:
  •  The highest proportion of people using probation services in Wokingham are aged between 26 and 35
  •  Factors most likely to have contributed to offending were alcohol, drugs, accommodation, employment and education, emotional wellbeing and finances
  • Mental illness and dyslexia are the most prevalent disabilities amongst the Wokingham population both affecting 19% of the population
  •  Nationally it is estimated that mental illness affects 27% of the probation population.

 

National

The Annual probation caseload (court orders and pre and post release supervision) increased by 39% between 2000 and 2008 to 243,434. Since then the probation caseload has fallen year on year, reaching 217,359 at the end of 2014, down 1% from the previous year.

 

The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) expanded licence supervision, so that anyone sentenced to more than one day in prison will receive at least 12 months supervision on release. This has affected the numbers of people now supervised by probation services.

     

Consequently this may have attributed to the national rise of the total probation caseload, which rose by 1% between March 2014 and March 2015. 

     

Further key national statistics relating to offenders who are under probation services supervision or in prison can be found in the ministry of justice’s publication: Offender management statistics quarterly.


Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (TVCRC)

     
The Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company work with people sentenced to Community Orders, Suspended Sentence Orders, in prison and on licence to reduce the likelihood of further offending.

     

The following tables and figures relate to the medium and low-risk Wokingham offenders managed by the Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (TVCRC) over the period of April 2014 to March 2015.

     

Over this period there were a total of 220 Wokingham residents managed.

 

Predominantly the caseload was made up of males, accounting for 80% of the total.
                                     

Table 1 - Gender breakdown of caseload for Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company
 Gender Number of Caseload 
Female  43 
 Male  177
 Total  220
   

 

The majority of those supervised by TVCRC were under a community order accounting for 61% of the total.

                                      

Table 2 - Breakdown of order type
 Order Type Number of Caseload 
 Community Order 135 
 Custody  30
 Suspended Sentence Order  54
 Youth Rehabilitation Order  1
 Total  220
   

 

With age taken as at 31/03/2015 those within the age ranges of 25-29 and 30-39 account for 56% of the caseload.

                                     

Table 3 - Breakdown of the caseload by age groups
 Age Range Number of Caseload 
18-20  14 
 21-24  17
 25-29  54
 30-39  70
 40-49  29
 50-59  23
 60 and over  13
 Total  220
   

The highest needs of this cohort of Wokingham offenders as identified by the Thames valley CRC’s Offender Assessment System (OASys) is alcohol misuse (44%), emotional wellbeing (32%), finances (32%) and health (33%).

     

Drugs misuse affects 26% of the cohort, 40% had recorded violent behaviour as related to alcohol use, which is the highest in Berkshire, and of the 32% of Service Users with an emotional wellbeing issue, 62% are female.

 

As alcohol is identified to be the highest need of offenders in Wokingham, more provision specifically targeting offenders with alcohol issues would be beneficial, from a health perspective this is particularly important for those who are at ‘increasing risk’ who tend to be in employment. Similarly offenders would benefit from additional support for lower level drug users and substance misuse. 

     
Given the mental health and educational issues of many offenders, they will always struggle if they have no support waiting for a mental health worker or psychiatrist who has a long waiting list. These factors alongside possible unemployment all increase the risk of re-offending.

 

Additional support for preventative activities which does not require a court order. The rehabilitation requirement allows for various activities to be undertaken during specified days, but the Thames Valley CRC require the resources and increased accessibility of services, to support engagement into activities for rehabilitation of offenders.

 

A further area for consideration is the frequency of drug testing of offenders and ensuring there is a clear understanding and expectation. As Magistrates and Judges will request that further evidence is required if weekly testing is not undertaken in cases where this is part of an order or recommendation. Therefore weekly drug testing would be a request of the courts to support in understanding the offenders prevention of drug and substance misuse progress. 

 

An additional area for continued support would be in relation to Housing Support and offenders having access to suitable housing. Although data does not suggest that accommodation is linked to offending behaviour in Wokingham, but those being released from prison present with increased needs in this area, are vulnerable and more likely to reoffend as a result of not have provision for supported accommodation.

 

  • Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company health and wellbeing report

  • Data from the Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company
  • Offender management statistics quarterly, Ministry of Justice