Tony Lloyd and Labour shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan visited Greater Manchester Probation Trust on a fact finding mission yesterday (Thursday 6 December).
They toured GMPT’s Intensive Alternative to Custody (IAC) team to learn more about the innovative initiative, which is achieving consistent success in holding offenders to account for their actions while also supporting their rehabilitation into the community.
IAC, which is based in Hanover Street, Manchester, supervises 18-25 year old male offenders in the city and Salford who would otherwise be facing a short custodial sentence for the crimes they have committed.
IAC is a vibrant multi-agency team and the agencies involved include Greater Manchester Police, Partners of Prisoners (POPS), G4S, Work Solutions, Manchester Alcohol and Drugs Services, Men’s Room, Salford Alcohol and Drugs Services and mental health specialists MO:DEL.
Tony Lloyd said: “Prison is an expensive option and in a lot of cases doesn’t make a difference, whereas the results of the kind of imaginative things being done here, and across Greater Manchester, are really promising.
“The justice system has got to show that crime doesn’t pay so this is not the easy option but it makes sense to help people out of crime, not just for those individuals but for people who won’t become victims in the future because of the rehabilitation process.”
Mr Khan said: “I have heard so much about the work going on at IAC in Manchester and Salford that I was determined to come and see for myself the kinds of things that is being done and which is making such an impact on re-offending rates of young people.
“I’m coming away from the visit with a much clearer idea of the best practice that could and should be adopted all over the country, learning from the trailblazing done here.”
Roz Hamilton, GMPT’s chief executive, said: “I am delighted that Mr Khan took the time out of his busy schedule to travel up from London specifically to see the work being carried out in the city, and that Mr Lloyd also took the trouble to attend.
“We are proud of the results that IAC is consistently delivering. It is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by partner agencies working together under the management of probation in a co-located setting.
“I look forward to further developing our relationship with the Police and Crime Commissioner, and to explore how we are most effectively able to work together to protect the communities we are proud to serve.”
IAC launched in April 2009. To date the team has achieved commencement targets month on month by convincing judges and magistrates that IAC offers a viable, robust alternative to short custody that is likely to achieve better results with regard to reducing reoffending than would short term jail sentences.
Mr Khan and Mr Lloyd met Daniel Davenport, an offender who has been on probation and served time in a young offenders’ institute, as well as having had numerous jail terms. He was
sentenced to IAC for two commercial burglaries, is on a curfew, got a 200 hour Community Payback sentence and regular supervision.
He said: “I think IAC is better than probation and jail. Here they get inside your head. I’m here today because I wanted to come in to get help sorting out my housing, the fact I can come in when I need to as well as when I have to is a great support.
“IAC is a lot more challenging. After you’ve been once jail is easy, nothing to it – same old faces inside, people who are there for years and years.
“I would like to say ‘yes, I’m not getting in trouble again’, but I don’t know, you cannot predict the future. What I can say is IAC is challenging me to do more, and I want to do more with my life.”
IAC delivers tailored interventions that address issues offenders may have, such as educational and employment needs, emotional well-being and accommodation.
Outreach staff monitor behaviour in the evenings and at weekends and the service is set up to offer round the clock involvement with offenders.
Requirements that offenders are subject to on IAC orders can include – as well as regular supervision by an offender manager – enhanced electronic monitoring, community payback and attendance at programmes aimed at addressing criminal behaviour.