Scheme for prolific crooks praised
A CRIME-fighting scheme in Bristol that targets the most prolific criminals in the city has been praised.
The Integrated Offender Management Service, known as IMPACT, involves a number of agencies and is overseen by the Safer Bristol Partnership.
The IMPACT team covers about 1,000 offenders responsible for crimes such as burglary, robbery and theft – the vast majority of whom commit crime to support drug addiction.
Started in 2008, it has been estimated that IMPACT has resulted in a 28 per cent reduction in re-offending by those men and women across the Bristol area.
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Police, the probation service, prison service, council, NHS, housing services and local drug agencies all work together.
The offenders are not given a choice whether they are supervised by IMPACT or not.
An "offender journey mapping" study has been published by the People Can's Offender Services, based on the first-hand experiences of 19 people from within the scheme.
The study examined how everyday issues such as housing, health, disabilities, benefits, employment, training, education and addictions can influence the overall response of the offender to the demands placed upon them by the IMPACT supervision.
The report, commissioned by Government Office South West and Department of Health SW, found the biggest improvement among people on IMPACT was in relation to addressing their drugs and alcohol use.
Most offenders felt there was a "significant" and "positive" change and also appreciated the personal approach, which led to a positive working relationships with offender managers in many cases.
The report recommended that the approach in Bristol be adapted and/or adopted in other areas, both regionally and nationally.
The few criticisms included some inconsistency in drug testing results and a recommendation for better use of mediation to resolve issues that may end up with people being made homeless.
In the report, author Paul Housden, People Can's Offender Services manager, said: "It is fair to say that as far as the offenders themselves are concerned, the Bristol Impact Service is performing extremely well.
"Their opinion is that this service is by far the most effective intervention that they have experienced when working with any criminal justice agency. They report real and measurable improvements in their lives as a result of the work and commitment shown by their offender managers and other staff within the Bristol Impact Service."