West Yorkshire Reducing Reoffending Strategy Official Launched
25 February 2019
"I knew something in my life drastically needed to change. I was on self-destruct mode and I had just pressed the big red button."
These are the words of Jacob Hill from Brighouse, who was arrested in 2014 for drugs related offences and sentenced to 28 months in prison.
Having found a mentor and investor, Jacob has since created his own company, Offploy, which hires ex-offenders into their team.
It is stories like Jacob's that has led West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson to develop a new partnership strategy with the aim of reducing reoffending across the county.
According to the latest statistics, the overall proven reoffending rate for West Yorkshire sits at 30.7%, an increase of 0.7% on the previous year. This closely compares to the national figure of 29.4%, published by the Ministry of Justice.
The official launch will took place today (Monday 25th February) at an event in Leeds, attended by key partners from across the criminal justice sector. #ReducingReoffending
It sets out a framework for reducing reoffending and crime over the next 2 years and follows extensive consultation.
Criminal justice partners, the third sector, service users and strategic leads are among those who have played a part in the creation of the document, which builds upon existing research and policy.
It is underpinned by a new Reducing Reoffending Board, which will continue to consult, contribute and help to promote key areas of this work.
Jacob Hill who is the Managing Director of voluntary sector organisation Offploy says he is particularly supportive of the new approach:
"As someone with a criminal conviction, it is great to see a strategy that really recognises the value in reducing reoffending and intervening before people enter a life of crime.
"It can change the lives of people wrapped up in crime, but also those who have suffered at the hands of it.
"Whilst it may seem obvious that a reduction in reoffending will make society safer, to achieve this is far more complicated and requires a strategic approach to deal with the problem at its source.
"Women offenders are also often overlooked and sometimes, unnecessarily imprisoned when they do not present a harm to the public.
"The fact the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner recognises this and is looking to find alternatives to the criminal justice system for low-risk and vulnerable women is a big step in the right direction to reducing the burden on our prisons and social services.
"It is well documented that some groups including care leavers, veterans, BAME groups and those with learning difficulties tend to form a disproportionately large percentage within the criminal justice system.
"This can largely be prevented if we take a blended approach of diverting people away, whilst developing individual approaches to reducing re-offending.
"This means providing specialist support, taking into account their specific needs, engaging them in meaningful activity or employment, which again desists from offending and contributes to society."
Rokaiya Khan is the Chief Executive of the Together Women Project for Yorkshire and the Humber and added:
"As an organisation involved in supporting women in contact with the criminal justice system and delivering services across West Yorkshire we very much welcome the intentions of the strategy that focuses on female offenders.
"Evidence has long shown that community interventions reduce costs within the CJS, reduce reconviction rates, and reconnect women with local services, which can sustain progress that they have made."
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, added:
"Reducing reoffending is central to achieving the outcomes in my Police and Crime Plan and specifically the overall vision of keeping West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.
"This new strategy aims to increase partnership working and focus on particular areas where the biggest benefits will be achieved for our communities.
"Examples of this approach include increased efforts on intervention particularly with young people and gang related issues. Also rehabilitation and resettlement of ex-offenders, tackling intergenerational crime as well as strengthening co-ordination of services across West Yorkshire are important to delivering successful outcomes.
"Victims will always come first and the strategy is by no means looking to reduce punishment for offenders. Rather, it aims to offer appropriate support and encourage them to become contributing members of the community, which will ultimately result in less crime and fewer victims, which is what everyone wants to see."