Tony Lloyd has visited Stockport’s Problem Solving Courts to learn more about pioneering work being done to tackle crime in the borough.
The Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner saw two offenders being sentenced and met with Greater Manchester Probation Trust (GMPT), court, other partnership staff, and Justices of the Peace at the town’s Magistrates’ Court.
The Problem Solving Court, which was launched in 2011, sits once a month and offers a service that is only being used in a few places across the country. Its aim is to make communities safer and reduce the number of victims of crime.
Agencies including GMPT, housing, drugs treatment, alcohol treatment, NHS, employment and mental health attend. Magistrates are then able to enforce an offender’s sentence plan involving partner agencies from the outset.
“This is a common-sense approach and I applaud the work being done in Stockport.
“We know early intervention plays an important role in stopping someone from reoffending, and that is what this initiative achieves.
“Magistrates can make an assessment of the offender in their court and provide a sentence package knowing that they have support from partner agencies from the outset. It reduces the risks Magistrates face.” Tony Lloyd
Mohammed Farooq, the head of Stockport probation, said: “I am delighted that Mr Lloyd took the time to visit the Problem Solving Courts and saw the pioneering work being carried out in the borough.
“We are seeing that this approach is making a real difference. Offenders know what they have to do and also if they fail to meet those targets, then Magistrates can send them to prison. It’s a tough punishment.
“It stands to reason that if an offender has a drug problem, then tackling that at the outset will mean they are more likely to succeed than if they have to wait months for an appointment.”
The court specifically targets offenders who have committed crimes that would result in either tough community sentences or short prison terms – rather than low level offences.
Offenders return to court to keep the Magistrates updated about their progress. This keeps their behaviour in check and drives better engagement.
Margaret Parker, chair of the Stockport Magistrates Bench, added: “We are able to set the offender challenging targets, such as addressing substance misuse, which they must promise to keep. We get to know the offender, how they are developing, and this is extremely beneficial.”
Featured image: Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd; Chair of the Stockport Magistrates’ Bench, Margaret Parker; and Head of Stockport Probation Mohammed Farooq.