Offender Journey Mapping with Clients of the Bristol Impact Service
Authors: Novas Scarman Offender Services; Government Office for the South West; Department of Health
From October 2010, Novas Scarman Offender Services have been conducting an Offender Journey Mapping exercise with offenders supervised specifically by the Bristol Impact Service. This is a unique Bristol-based Integrated Offender Management team made up of staff from the Police, Probation, Prison Service and the Criminal Justice Intervention Team. They work closely with offenders, providing a comprehensive approach to dealing with their criminal behaviour and diverting them away from a life of crime.
The scheme concentrates on those offenders who are causing the most harm to the community and for whom other sentencing options have failed. Police intelligence and Probation records are used to place individuals within a targeting matrix to ensure that only the most prolific offenders are adopted by the service. The clients of the service, men or women, will qualify if their offending has a serious impact on the community in which they live. This will usually include domestic burglary and/or car theft. They will satisfy a number of criteria in terms of the nature and frequency of their previous offences and previous sentences, which ensure that the most prolific and troublesome offenders in this category are targeted. Experience suggests that most will have a Class A drug habit – (e.g heroin, cocaine, amphetamine) and/or alcohol abuse issues. In many cases offenders would be assessed as having complex needs involving combinations of drug, alcohol, mental health or learning disability issues.
Novas Scarman were asked by Government Office South West (GOSW) and the Department of Health South West (DOH) to undertake this piece of work in line with their commitment to Public Sector Agreement 16 and to further contribute to delivery of PSA23/25 by gaining a better understanding of how to more successfully integrate offenders back into the community whilst breaking the cycle of reoffending.
The overall aim of the work is to support the work of the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service and their partners in better understanding how offenders experience and engage with the Bristol Impact Service by creating journey maps of their experience over a given period of time.
The work required a great deal of co-operation by both strategic and operational managers and staff within Avon and Somerset Probation service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Criminal Justice Intervention Team and administrative staff across all organisations.
In addition it has to be recognised that this is a strictly voluntary process from the perspective of the offenders themselves and the exercise could not have been conducted without their valuable contributions and in many cases deep insight into their own offending drivers and histories.
We would want to commence this report by noting our appreciation to all of the above for their patience and understanding over a protracted period of nearly four months and would hope that the results prove to be a suitable recompense for that effort.
Offender Services Manager
Novas Scarman (South West)
Copyright © Paul Housden 2011
What is Offender Journey Mapping
Offender Journey Mapping is based on the Customer Journey Mapping technique. Customer Journey Mapping is the process of tracking and describing all of the experiences that customers have as they encounter a service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their own personal responses to that experience. Understanding both the physical and emotional journeys that customers must navigate in order to access services is crucial and if used well, it can reveal opportunities for improvement and innovation, acting as a strategic tool to ensure every interaction with customers is as positive as it can be.
Offender Journey mapping is a qualitative mapping technique. It tracks the main steps in a customer’s experience and records how customers think, feel and act at each step. The focus is on generating emotional insights and deep understanding in order to build customer engagement. This is not a quantitative technique and is not supposed to be representative of all offenders.
We track those steps and experiences on a graph style Map which shows in simple form the positive and negative experiences of each offender over a given period of time, which in the case of this study is 3 months. Critical moments in those journeys are indicated as “moments of truth” or in the case of this piece of work we have designated them as “hot-spots”. These hot spots will be explained in greater detail later but they are points where an intervention from an individual or a service would have been most likely to impact upon the individual’s chances of either offending or avoiding re-offending.
We have left space at the bottom section of the graph to give a brief description of those issues but will examine them in greater detail later in that section.
What do we hope to Achieve?
For any piece of work, there is always a desired outcome but in the case of Offender Journey Mapping we hope to produce a number of local and regional recommendations that will improve not only the offender experience of Impact but also assist those staff tasked with delivering the service to identify in advance where an individual offender may face difficulties.
Offender Journey Mapping has its origins in the Cabinet Office’s Service Transformation Agreement which is being used to drive forward the citizenship agenda. Journey Mapping allows public service agencies to get a better understanding of the experiences of their key stakeholders.
Just as private sector organisations need to understand the needs and perspectives of citizens/customers it is right that Criminal Justice agencies also begin to take a stronger interest in their “customers” experiences. By ensuring that the customer experience is as positive as possible, the chances of a successful completion are inherently improved and stronger, more positive outcomes will be achieved. This is not only good for the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service but assists Police and Probation to meet its ever more demanding targets. More importantly it gives the offender a much better chance of successfully breaking the cycle of re-offending and enables them to start the process of community reintegration.
Uniquely this piece of work will not just look at offending behaviour, but in the spirit of the working ethos of the Bristol Impact Service it will examine the offender experiences across eight different strands that are very similar to the Reducing Re-offending Pathways. This recognises the fact that there are potentially many barriers in our lives that may determine our abilities to meet the demands placed upon us and that issues in one particular area will, on many occasions, cut across into others.
At the end of this process we would hope to identify any patterns that might indicate a systemic problem, possibly related to Government or Local Authority Policy and Procedures, for instance on issues like Benefits, Health or Housing and offer suggestions that might help alleviate these issues. Equally, if indicators are strongly positive in any particular areas we would want to promote these as good working practice and publicise them.
We hope that this report will ultimately assist Government Office, Department of Health, MoJ, NOMS, Police, Probation and Prisons to build on the very solid foundation that is already working in Bristol as the Impact Service and by looking at the recommendations and good practice, be able to guide any changes that it may be necessary to make. We also hope that by better understanding offender experiences, we can employ fresh measures that help to better manage expectations and misgivings amongst this particularly difficult offender group, and ultimately ensure that they themselves have better outcomes.
We want to recognise the assistance given to us in conducting this exercise by guidance from a previous Offender Journey Mapping exercise that was carried out on a cohort of offenders released from prison into the Tower Hamlets area of London. This exercise focussed on journeys from prison into the community and differs from our work which is, as we mentioned earlier with a group of offenders who are striving to avoid prison by working with the Bristol Impact Team. The exercise is aligned with the “Customer Journey Mapping” (CJM) technique as defined by the Service Transformation Agreement Model to support the objectives of PSA 16.
We set up a series of meetings with the Bristol Impact service at the outset, to thoroughly brief their staff on the purpose of the study, and to reassure them that this was not in any way a critique of their service delivery but a demonstrative process designed to obtain quality feedback from their offenders relating to the impact of a wide range of issues that may affect the offenders interaction with the Bristol Impact Service. It is very important to get that acknowledgement from staff at the outset in order to facilitate access to customers.
After consultation with Government Office, Department of Health and the Impact Service we agreed that we would select two cohorts of offenders to interview and map.
Cohort 1 – This was a proposed group of 15 Impact offenders who had quite recently begun their interaction with Impact, and whom we would follow closely for a period of three months. We also asked these offenders to keep weekly diaries for this period of time. In the final analysis we were able to engage with 8 offenders in this Cohort.
The average age of Cohort 1 was 34 yrs, ranging from 26-38. They were all male and all white British in terms of ethnicity.
All of the offenders in Cohort 1 were within the first two weeks of their orders commencing and naturally all satisfied the acceptable admittance criteria to be managed by the Impact Service.
In terms of what type of orders the participants were on, the breakdown is as follows;
Community Order with Supervision/DRR (drug rehabilitation requirement)
2 X Post release licence
2 X Suspended Sentence Order with Supervision/DRR
2 X Community Order with Supervision/Programme
Community Order with Supervision
The process was to meet up with them at regular intervals throughout the 3 month period, ask them the same set of questions and ask them to define their own “journey” through the process by rating their experiences on a predetermined scale of positivity.
Cohort 2 – This was a proposed group of 15 Impact offenders who had successfully completed a three month period already, and were still engaging with Impact. The interviews with these offenders were “retrospective” in the sense that we asked them to consider what had already happened to them, rather than what was happening at that exact time. These were single interventions of approximately 45 minutes to one hour. The number of offenders participating in this Cohort was 11.
The average age of Cohort 2 was 34 years, ranging from 22 – 51.
The Gender breakdown was 9% Female and 91% male.
The breakdown of the specific nature of their involvement with the Impact Service was;
7 X Community Order with Supervision/DRR
Community Order with Supervision
Community Order with Supervision/DRR/Specified Activity
Community Order with Supervision/DRR/Programme
Post release licence
The offenders in Cohort 2 had successfully completed at least three months supervision with the Impact Service, in some cases this was 3-4 months and in others much longer. The longest period of supervision relative to an individual in this Cohort was 8 months.
Again we asked the participants to describe their initial 3 month journey, indicating any points at which things were going well, or had taken a turn for the worse. We asked them to rate their positivity levels at the beginning and then at the end of the 3 month period.
We realised that prior to commencing with Cohort 1 that we would need to draw up a specific confidentiality procedure that whilst endeavouring to protect the disclosures of the individual offender also took note of the fact that we were required to report any disclosures that may impact upon an offenders’ ability to successfully and honestly complete their orders. We worked closely with the Impact Team manager to draw up a form of agreement that would be acceptable to them and also not be objectionable to the participants themselves. We recognise the argument that in circumstances where we might have to report a disclosure to an Offender Manager, there is a possibility that the intervention may artificially alter a participants’ “journey” experience but after a great deal of consideration and discussion it was felt that it was in the best interests of all concerned (including public protection), that disclosures involving further offences or potentially harmful behaviour, were reported to the appropriate authority. Offender participants were made fully aware of this at the outset of their interaction.
To ensure some form of consistency, we notified both cohorts of this requirement, although obviously it would be far more significant for the “active” offenders in Cohort 1.
All participating offenders were required to sign off this disclosure form prior to commencement of the mapping exercise.
Initially we asked the administrative officer and individual Offender Managers to identify possible candidates for the mapping process but this was not altogether successful. In the end our researcher camped out at De Courcey House Probation Office during the drug testing process and was able to “ambush” a number of volunteers when they turned up for their mandatory drug testing sessions.
We devised two separate questionnaires, specific to Cohorts but which contained very similar questions.
As mentioned previously we also asked members of Cohort 1 to take away and complete a Diary over the course of the three months to demonstrate any positive or negative occurrences that presented themselves during this period.
Offenders in were paid in the form of a £20 shopping voucher for their contributions during the interviews and for the completion of the diaries.
Following the collection of all data, a meeting was convened with the Impact Service Manager to validate any issues raised by offenders regarding statements they had made about specific operational procedures. This was not to obtain an opinion on those procedures merely to ascertain whether they were in fact correct.
In order to get the most complete holistic picture of life as an Impact Service customer, we wanted to see how many different aspects of daily living might affect how an offender engaged with this service. To do this, we adopted a number of distinct Pathways that we wanted to look at.
The Reducing Reoffending Pathways are :
Accommodation and Support,
Education, Training and Employment,
Drugs and Alcohol
Finance, Benefits and Debt.
Children and Families
Attitudes, Thinking & Behaviour.
In this study we will utilise 8 similar Pathways as follows;
Drugs and Alcohol
Housing and Accommodation
Family and Relationships
Finance and Benefits
Mental Health/Learning Disability
Coping with the Order
Work, Training and Education.
After looking at these we will then go on to chart a combined Cohort Journey for each pathway and eventually an overall Cohort Journey.
The Hot Spots highlighted by a lightening strike in the box above the map show the moments where an intervention from a service would have been most likely to affect the offenders chances of re-offending in a positive manner. Equally it may also highlight where a lack of support has lead to a negative experience. A box has been left at the bottom of the map in order to note where potential interventions could have made a difference to the offenders experience or where an offender has provided observations for the study to consider. These are most likely to be completed where a section has been indicated as a hot spot.
The Hot Spots are normally generated as a direct result of the offender assessing a significant positive or negative change in their journey experience as an event occurs. It is important to note that these “experiences” are self-defined by the participants and not assumed by the study itself and as a result are a much more accurate and honest description of their interaction with a wide range of services during the course of their journeys.
It is from these Hot Spots that the study hopes to generate suggestions and recommendations for the commissioners around future working practice, policies and procedures and even sentencing options. Recommendations that will be solution focused and in many cases driven by the offenders themselves. These recommendations will not focus solely on the criminal justice aspect of the service but will cross all of the Pathways including housing, health and education.
In addition to the Hot Spots we will examine the comments made by the offenders during their interviews and the diaries completed by the offenders in Cohort 1.
The diaries will be displayed in a separate report, (See Addendum 1) and any suggestions generated as a result of these will be identified in the Summary Report, to try to ensure that they do not get lost amongst the huge amounts of data contained within this document.
Drugs and Alcohol Pathway
This Pathway asked the offender to consider their experiences specifically in relation to their management or in some cases non-management of their drug and/or alcohol issues over the course of the three month period. In some cases, an individual offender’s experience in another Pathway would cut across into this one and directly affect their ability to manage issues here successfully. This is only to be expected as we recognise that we cannot deal with any Pathways effectively if we exclude the impact of others.
The experience will cover interaction with drug related medical treatment, contact with GP’s, intervention from specialist drug and alcohol services, an offenders’ own methods for dealing with the addiction and of course any support and intervention provided by the Bristol Impact Service, including an offenders view of the drug testing procedures.
Because this process focuses on the offender experience through the three month journey it may also include descriptions of relapse and drug/alcohol use and the subsequent measures put in place to deal with those regressions. It should be understood that a relapse does not necessarily mean that an individual has failed their order, indeed it is refreshing to see that from the Impact Service perspective, this can be a point where some of the most effective interventions have taken place.
It should also be noted that at the time of this study, there were very effective operations run by Avon and Somerset Police that managed to significantly reduce the level of supply of Class A drugs in general circulation in the Bristol area. Equally cannabis was also in short supply at this time.
These police operations were not in any way related to the Bristol Impact Service other than to note that their effectiveness would have had an impact on the clients of the service, in terms of their ability to easily obtain street drugs.
Comments from Offenders on Drugs/Alcohol Pathway
Offenders were asked to comment on whether they felt that the Impact Service was improving their ability to deal with their drug and/or alcohol issues.
(Interview after 4 weeks)
"My drinking has come down quite a bit and I can access more help than I thought. The Impact Team are talking about what I need. Before I saw probation as more of a punishment than a help”.
“Things have got better, because my drug use is more under control. I’m more in control in a positive way. And my day to day life is quite fulfilled.”
“Better, I am not taking any drugs and not shoplifting”
“Better, I am no longer on Methadone and haven’t used any class A’s for 7 months. Now I am not on a script I am not a prisoner to Heroin.”
“Pretty much the same, haven’t started the groups over at BDP yet. But they should start soon.”
“I think it has got better, I don’t know with me, when I’m not on probation for me it’s easier to offend. Just coming for supervision keeps me on the straight and narrow. Although I ‘m not perfect, I might have a smoke now and again.”
(Interviews after 8 weeks)
“I had a relapse that lasted approximately three days. I didn’t commit any crime and only spent about £10 a day. The cold weather set in and it stops me using my bike and I got bored. So I started using, I did that for three days then I went to the doctors and told my probation officer. I have learnt that boredom is a trigger for me. My probation officer put a really positive spin on what happened, you know, when you look at the bigger picture, I am better off now”
“I am cutting down on methadone. With all that has been going on I went through a phase of wanting to hide away. But things are going well and I have stopped topping up.”
“No major issues, my drug use has been the same and that would be thing I would need the most help with. So it’s OK”
“I am waiting for Cynthia [probation officer] to sort out my tag, we have a good relationship. I trust her, she trusts me. I tested positive for cocaine, she has tested me again and then it tested positive for methadone. So she has sent if off for more testing. I tell Cynthia that I use cannabis, I’m not going to hide anything from her”
“Just being staying clean. Staying in – that’s about it. Nothing’s happened at all. Staying in watching films, sticking out till after Christmas, then start doing things then.”
(Interviews after 12 weeks)
“I am drinking much less, I am only drinking now when I need it. And I am feeling much more positive. Like yesterday, I bought a bottle and today there is half of it left. Which is a lot better.”
“I’ve taken off daily supervised methadone scripts. So I get it weekly now. That shows things moving forward and I’m getting negative tests.”
“I do one-to-one with Nillari, I don’t like the groups, because, mostly people are still using, so I do one-to-one with my key worker. I started using 12 years ago, now I’ve been clean for 11 months. That’s the longest I’ve been clean” (The Nilaari Agency is a community based drug treatment provider that administers accessible high quality culturally appropriate services).
“The only upset I have had was a positive test. I know I hadn’t used, so Cynthia [probation officer] sent it away because I disagreed with it. It came back negative, so it was the machines here.”
“It is the same as last time we spoke. I get more emotional support from Sophie [BDP]” (BDP is an independent agency delivering an accessible and confidential information, advice and counselling service to drug mis-users, their relatives and friends and to other professionals working with drug mis-users).
Summary of the Drugs/Alcohol Pathway
Looking at the Combined Cohort Journey for the Drugs/Alcohol Pathway as depicted on Page 22, the overall experience for these offenders is a positive one. In terms of their success with managing their drug/alcohol issues, offenders state that this due to a combination of support from the Impact Service, Drugs/Alcohol Agencies, Doctors, friends and family and their own ability to deal with their addictions.
There is a general feeling amongst this cohort that the Impact service is a far more effective scheme than those that may have gone before it, and that the staff there demonstrate a real understanding of how addictions can impact upon their lives. Participants have mixed feelings about group-work, but this is understandable as it doesn’t suit everyone. There is overwhelming praise and support for the way that the Impact staff support and advocate on behalf of Impact offenders.
In one particular case an offender advises that the current lack of available “street” drugs has had a positive impact upon their ability to manage their own addiction.
There does appear to be an issue around the accuracy of some drug testing procedures – which could have had a serious impact upon an offenders’ experience but swift intervention by Impact staff has to some extent mitigated that.
In some cases the way that methadone is dispensed could have an effect upon how an offender feels about their own self-worth – the quote from one individual was “Usually drug addicts have to go in to a chemist and take it there and then. It is really about making sure we know we are addicts”.
Interestingly there are two schools of thought about being required to attend the probation office and potentially come into contact with other drug users who are not under the supervision of the Impact service. Some believe that it is potentially dangerous and makes the likelihood of relapse more probable whilst others say that it allows them to reflect on their own history and shows them not only what they used to be like but acts as a deterrent as they don’t want to go back down that route.
Drug and Alcohol Hot Spots
Supportive GP/Supportive Family
Setting up a Script
Support from Offender Manager following relapse
Lack of available “street drugs”
Mandatory Drug Testing/Inaccurate Drug Test Results
- Relapse/Additional Support
Housing and Accommodation Pathway
This Pathway considered an offender’s experiences in relation to their housing or accommodation situation throughout the three month period.
The breakdown of offenders by accommodation for this cohort is;
Staying with Friends or Family 2
Council Accommodation 2
Housing Association 2
Temporary Accommodation 1
Private Rented Tenancy 1
None of the participants in this Cohort owned or had mortgages for their own properties.
The experience covered how they manage their properties, how they related to their landlords and what the critical issues were for them.
Comments from Offenders on Housing and Accommodation Pathway
Offenders were asked to comment on whether they felt secure and happy where they were living…
(After 4 weeks)
“I love my flat, it is beautiful. I live by an industrial estate, so once 5pm comes it is really quiet. It is a lovely setting, nice and quiet. Sometimes I walk in and am proud that I have made it so nice.”
“Not ideally where I want to live, it’s emergency housing, but I am happy there.”
“Yes, I have been there a couple of years. Just signed for a permanent tenancy.”
“No, although I can’t really complain as there are people out there without anywhere to live. Only problem is it is full of people using drugs. So I stay out all day and just go back there to sleep. Also there is a £10.50 weekly service charge and you have to pay for washing.”
“Yes, it’s my family home.”
“I love the house, I was there by myself for a while, now there are two other people in there and there are things going on in the house that I’m not really liking, that could put my liberty at risk. I need to move out, but not to a hostel.”
(After 8 weeks)
“Loads has happened, when I met you last time I told you I had to leave the Salvation Army, but I’ve come out of it ok. Basically I was homeless; luckily I have a lot of friends. I stayed with them 3 or 4 days. I was desperately searching; I was offered hostels but didn’t want them. Now I have a house in Stapleton. It is with a private landlord, he rang me back and I got a house until he turns it into flats. Then I get one of the flats”.
“My kitchen has been completely renovated, it’s done now, it’s finished and it’s nice. I was allowed to pick the kitchen”
“ I am in that private let now. That is a big difference from when we first met - I was just about to be made homeless, today I am in a private let and nearly settled.”
“Things are still the same. I am living with friends. I am still looking to move to my own place.”
“I am still at the Salvation Army, everything is going ok. I don’t like the fact I can’t have a visitor in my room. So me and my girlfriend can’t go up and talk privatively. I owe a bit on the rent top up as well, but that is under control.”
“I live with my Nan and everything is fine there.”
“I am living with my partner and kids. I don’t have any problems.”
“I have my own Housing Association flat, I am a bit behind with the bills, TV and water, but I don’t have any rent arrears. I have to wait until next week when I get paid, then I will sort it out. I will have to ring the TV licence people and sort it out.”
(After 12 weeks)
“I am still in the Salvation Army, there is no change. At the moment I want to get abroad, to travel with my girlfriend. But for now I am safe and secure in the Salvation Army.”
“I have been very lucky, I have my family home, with the Mrs and the two kids. It’s all good. The mother-in-law lives across the road and she’s a lot of help. Wouldn’t change anything, everything is fine.”
“I haven’t paid any bills over Christmas, I have to pay my water. I am very happy with my little flat, I love it. I am trying to get some money together now to decorate it. My neighbours seem to get a lot of money from charities for beds and things.”
“I am still in my flat with my mate, definitely safe and secure where I am, but it’s not where I want to be. I am seeing the housing support worker and they are considering whether to put me into hostels, but I don’t like the idea of that. We are going to talk about private renting a bedsit, that is something I want, but I don’t want to rush it.”
“I live with my Nan, very stable, I’ve lived with her for 14 years. I am looking to get my own place eventually.”
“Still with my family, housing has not been an issue for me. My family home is safe and secure.”
“Yes, moved into the private let. It is just about getting it all sorted now. You know getting pots and pans and things. I had a big sort out when my partner when to India. I really like my flat, the only thing I would change, is moving it to another area. I’d much rather be over the Montpellier side of Bristol. The actual house is ok. But I can’t see me staying there forever. It is short term and adequate.”
“I got my flat and that is good. To be honest, I wouldn’t make any changes. Actually, because where I live is an RSI [rough sleepers initiative] some people do come through this route. They are fast tracked and they are sometimes still using. I don’t like that.”
Summary of the Housing and Accommodation Pathway
By examining the Combined Journey for this Cohort on Page 37, we can see that the experiences of the group are broadly very positive. The Cohort has a good mix of tenancy types from Local Authority general needs flats, Housing Association flats, private rented tenancies, staying with family and friends to temporary accommodation in hostels or shared housing.
The Cohort has an average age of just under 30, which may help to explain the pragmatic way that they approach this issue. They seem to be realistic in their expectations and focussed on making what they have better, rather than demanding something which is impractical. Generally, the experience of this Cohort in terms of housing and accommodation is a settled one, and it may not have been the case has the group been a lot younger.
Those in settled permanent tenancies are managing them as well as can be expected and those in temporary accommodation display a reassuring level of patience when it comes to how long it may take them to move on. Not surprisingly those staying with family or friends appear to be the most positive, but this could be explained by the fact that the demands on them in terms of managing a tenancy and paying bills are going to be the least of all the participants.
Some of those with general needs tenancies have the support of external agencies or in-house tenancy support workers to assist them in managing their properties, and with that support are doing very well.
Very few members of the Cohort mentioned any negative experiences in Housing or Accommodation over the three month period, other than one who advised that they were waiting on the Social Housing waiting list which seemed to be taking a long time.
Note: Some participants talked about rent and/or bills being a slight issue but not negatively impacting upon housing.
There is a definite rise in positivity in Month 2 which considering the stated already stable situation may simply be a reflection of an increase in positivity across other Pathways having a knock-on effect to housing.
Housing and Accommodation Hot Spots
Supportive Family Environment
Salvation Army Supported Hostel
Family/Friends assisted to find Private Rented Tenancy
Tenancy Support from external Agencies
Waiting for Local Authority Tenancy
Family and Relationships Pathway
By examining this particular Pathway we wanted to try to establish just how much people’s relationships and family support impact upon an offenders chances of successfully completing their order, and conversely to what degree being on an order with Impact would influence the dynamics of the family unit and relationships.
We wanted to see just how important, an individuals relationships were, in terms of overall ability to manage and complete the order, or whether the order itself could potentially damage or impair relationships.
We included friends and carers, and in the absence of anyone who normally falls into the family definition – anyone else who might regularly provide some form if support.
Comments from Offenders on Family & Relationships Pathway
(Interview after 4 weeks)
Respondents were asked to describe their current family support or alternatively support from other sources where they would describe a “relationship” taking place.
“Yes, my Mum & Dad, they look after my son, he stays with them a lot because of the drugs.”
“I don’t get any financial support, but I do get emotional support from Mum & Dad. They have always stood by me. In the last 3 years my life has got dramatically better. I would describe myself as a functioning addict. But in some ways this makes it harder to give up.
There is less incentive to give up. When things are bad I get motivated to do something about it.”
“Not really, I am happy doing it by myself.”
“I have a wife and two kids (4 & 16) they are supportive.”
“I have quite a supportive family, but they are not in Bristol.”
“Yes, to an extent. My sister is very supportive.”
“I have a partner, my Nan and my Dad.”
“My family are supportive – yes.”
Other Support –
“Friends and now Probation.”
“No, except my GP, he is brilliant.”
“Salvation Army, there are people there to talk to. My key-worker, Groups should be happening pretty soon. They should have started at the beginning of my licence. Don’t feel like I have moved forward at all, like I am still the same as when I started.”
“Nicky Hughes, mentor with the Impact Team, I haven’t seen him since I got out, but if you have got a problem or something is doing my head in I can ring him.”
"Steve West at Novas, he helped me with some debt stuff. Probation, Can’t stand all that NA stuff, can’t get my head into it.”
“Yes, my friends, clean friends. Other agencies like the Salvation Army prep unit and groups.”
“No, just Probation and Nilaari. Well I am on the waiting list for Nilaari.”
“BDP, Nilaari and Probation.”
After 8 Weeks - Question : What kind of issues, if any, have your friends and family supported you with over the past 4 weeks? Has there been support from anyone else ?
“My probation officer has been very supportive with my relapse. My GP is wonderful as well, normally. I have had practical support from my Mum and Dad, they are always popping around. My dad has helped me putting up some cupboard doors in the kitchen”
“I get support off friends and my partner. She is settled and is a child minder.”
“My one friend, I have been having really good chats with. She lives away from town. So it takes me away. She gives me general support and we have the shared experience of having cancer.”
“No haven’t needed any support, things are going well.”
“I have had help keeping my appointments, giving me lifts and stuff. My dad has helped me out. Probation also helps, where she can. Also the drug agency Allari (Nilaari), but everyone there uses. I’m only going to see what it’s like. But I’m not staying if everyone is off their faces.”
“I am having a few problems with my support worker at the moment.”
“No major issues, my drug use has been the same and that would be thing I would need the most help with. So it’s ok.”
After 12 weeks – Question - What kind of issues, if any, have your friends and family supported you with over the past 4 weeks?
“Me and my girlfriend are supporting each other with our drug use. She wants to travel, and she can see that if we want to be together we have to stop the drugs. She is seeing that the best times we have had together are when we haven’t been using.”
“I am getting all the support I can at the moment. Cynthia [probation officer] is keeping me busy: Nillari, ETS [enhanced thinking skills] to help me get back to work. I do one-to-one with Nillari, I don’t like the groups, because, mostly people are still using, so I do one-to-one with my key worker. I started using 12 years ago, now I’ve been clean for 11 months. That’s the longest I’ve been clean, I’ve been off meds for 7 months. I did a lot of courses in prison, it was on my sentence planning, so I had to do them. But I am glad they did make me do it. It opened my eyes. One thing was listening to other people on the course, who because of drugs lost their kids. That was not going to happen to me.”
“Because of the money situation I have been eating at my Mums, I forgot to say I also went to Torquay with my Mum and Dad in between Christmas and New Year, we do it every year, it’s cheap if you book it up early.”
“I was really anxious leading up to Christmas, because it is normally a time when I go over the top. I did have support over this time. I went to friends who don’t normally drink at all. They kept me on the straight and narrow. We did things like playing board games, where I would normally have crashed out I had a laugh instead. Yes, normally I would just get wasted over Christmas.”
“Haven’t had a lot going on that needed support, I live with my Nan and my girlfriend is around for support. They are the two main people who I would go to if I had a problem. I also have a meeting with a one-to-one key worker who reviews with my script.”
“I have had support from Maximus [employment agency]. They email me jobs and jobs searches. They ring me every two weeks or so to see if everything is ok. Cynthia [Probation officer] referred me to them. She has also referred me to Cruise Bereavement counselling.”
“My GP has been supportive. Sophie from BDP, my partner and friends have been supportive. I have had support socially, emotionally, support eating well and budgeting. Just normal things. It’s a bit much when you stop using and I am just getting used to doing normal things.”
Summary of Family & Relationships Pathway
It should come as no surprise that the way that offenders interact with their immediate families directly influences not only how they are able to manage the conditions of their supervision, but also how they deal with issues that arise across the other pathways. In normal life we all draw heavily upon the support of our friends and family, so why should it be any different for offenders?
In those circumstances where an individual’s offending has created a rift between themselves and their immediate family, it is apparent that the traditional role of support is taken on by a variety of different people. Offenders rely heavily upon the support and guidance offered by a number of professionals from a variety of sources. Offender Managers, mentors, drugs counsellors, support-workers, GP’s and even employment agencies have been cited as examples by this Cohort of offenders, as alternative and on occasion even substitute family members.
Virtually all of the respondents have stated that at various times they rely upon someone to provide support, reassurance, guidance or practical assistance when they themselves cannot see a solution to their problem.
Those with strong supportive immediate family appear to be the best placed to cope with the many and varied issues that can arise across the other Pathways at any time.
Not one respondent stated that they had literally no-one to turn to, or that they would not seek help when they recognise that a problem is becoming too complex for them to deal with.
Equally it is true to say that when things go wrong in this Pathway it can have a profound effect upon an offenders’ ability to cope with any of the other problems in their lives at that time.
The Hot Spots Summary will draw upon some specific examples of both positive and negative influences in this Pathway.
Family and Relationships Hot-Spots
- Relationship issues with Support Worker
- New relationship onset – strong and supportive girlfriend
- Prevented from seeing children by ex-partner.
- Improvement in family relationships as drugs management becomes more stable
- Ban on visiting children rescinded triggering huge upturn in positivity.
- Wife becoming irritated by how much supervision interferes with normal family life.
Finance and Benefits Pathway
In the case of Cohort 1, all offenders participating in the Study were reliant in some form or another on state benefits. A number of offenders were actively seeking work during the course of their order and a number appeared to be taking on some ad-hoc minor amounts of unofficial work for friends, relatives or even their landlords. This seemed to be “cash-in –hand” work on top of their benefits payments, however this Study had no remit to investigate this further, nor was it deemed advantageous to any party to take this issue further. For the sake of good practice individuals were given the advice that if it was the case that they were receiving monies for work, they should report this to the Job Centre or Department for Work and Pensions so that the necessary adjustments could be made.
The Study was designed specifically to obtain the offenders experiences of managing their finances or benefits whilst they were receiving support from the Impact Service, not to debate the rights and wrongs of how they managed those issues.
We hope that despite this we are able to make some useful suggestions at the end of this report that will give pause for thought on how the issues of benefits and money management can be approached both now, and in the future when it appears that the benefits system will be changing and becoming much more regulated.