If someone commits a crime they can find themselves labelled as an offender. We believe that each person is able to change. Many studies have researched how people stop offending and move to crime-free lifestyles.
This is a long process rather than a single event, which involves ceasing offending and is made up of two stages:
Stage one - a person stops the offending behaviour or there is a gap in a person’s offending.
Stage two - a far deeper change in the person which is shown in their development; they view themselves as a non-offender.
Key factors critical to supporting a move away from crime.
People often ‘grow out’ of crime naturally. Research shows that those who have taken part in street crime (such as burglary, robbery and drug sales) begin when they are in their early teens and peak when they reach early adulthood. Those aged 16-24 form just 10% of the population but are overrepresented in criminal justice services.
Studies have shown that prisoners believe that having a place to live is important for them to stop reoffending. Providing good quality housing in a way that people feel secure can help people to refrain from committing offences.
Cutting down or stopping drinking and/or drug use
Drug and alcohol use are heavily linked with offending. Recovery or better control of alcohol and drug use will help with this process.
Management of mental health
Mental health can play a role in crime; living in supported housing where support is readily available can be beneficial for the individual.
Gaining employment can help with the movement away from crime. It can give an individual a sense of achievement and purpose.
Forming supportive bonds with family, a partner or friends can help the process of moving away from crime. Developing such relationships can provide emotional and practical support for a person on their journey to non-offending.
Arts-based activities can be used to help people engage with their own creativity. Taking part in the arts needs dedication and patience and can help clients to build their self-esteem and allow them to form a more positive identity.
Hope and motivation
Those who move away from criminal activity are likely to be motivated to change other aspects of their life and in turn gain more positive outcomes.
Identity and self-belief
Overcoming the negative label ‘offender’ is difficult, particularly if the person is continually referred to by this label even after they have taken steps to move away from crime. Moving away from this self view will assist individuals to believe in themselves and will give them a sense of identity.
and involvement We encourage client engagement. We will work with clients to discuss the service and to set targets, which will be reviewed on a regular basis. This will start relationships based on respect, loyalty and commitment.
We support clients in their journey away from crime and we provide specialist services tailored to respond to the unique needs of each individual client.
We recognise and work to develop clients’ strengths, rather than focusing solely on the offence they have committed. We encourage clients to focus on their skills and talents.
We have a lot of experience of developing partnerships that are critical to enabling clients to access the range of support required to move away from crime. For example, tackling issues linked to housing, health and mental health and substance use.
We often work with families and other sources of social support. As these relationships may support positive change, it is critical to work to strengthen and restore them.
We give clients a voice to enable them to feel empowered and valued. Active participation and being listened to helps reverse the feeling of marginalisation that clients often experience.
Making clear what services we provide and how decisions made can help clients to understand what factors can impact on their lives.
Research is still looking into the distinct issues facing women and members of ethnic and other minority groups in their journey away from crime. It is important to find out this information so that we can make sure the help offered is the most relevant.
A sense of belonging
Helping clients to feel part of their community can create a sense of belonging and lead to an increased sense of responsibility. Benefits gained from joining new social networks can be vital in supporting moves away from crime.
Peer support and staying clear of “bad” associates
We encourage “peer support”. Whereby people with the same shared experience provide social or practical help to each other. Getting peer support can inspire and motivate clients on their journey away from crime as they can see the change in others. Giving peer support can help clients develop self-belief and skills. Of course, staying away from those who have been involved in trouble in the past can be a great help and people may need to find a new social network in order to help themselves.
Theory of change
The theory of change shows how support can assist clients in their goals. It can assist the client to:
- Focus on helpful relationships
- Give strong, hopeful messages
- Avoid labelling
- Focus on strengths
- Recognise what they have done well
- Make practical help the priority
- Work with parents, partners and important others
- Work with supporting communities
Finally, we should note that the move away from crime is a challenging and lengthy process that can involve a person lapsing and relapsing. Clients may need long-term support, often after their place with a project or service has ‘officially’ ended.