PCC funds programme pilot to cut reoffending rates

A pilot programme which has more than halved reoffending rates and stopped young people being drawn into the criminal justice system in Ipswich is to be rolled out across Suffolk, thanks to a grant from the police and crime commissioner’s Crime and Disorder Reduction Fund
The ‘Challenge 4 Change’ programme, run jointly by Suffolk Constabulary and Suffolk’s Youth Offending Service, has seen reoffending rates among young people involved in relatively minor offences drop to just 9.7%. Previously young people would have been dealt reprimands or final warnings – and reoffending rates were 24.5% and 29.4% respectively.
The scheme works by encouraging offenders to think about and address the fundamental causes of their poor behaviour – and in return avoid getting a criminal record.
Offenders between the ages of 10 and 17 are initially taken to a police station. But instead of going through the usual criminal process, they are offered the opportunity to go on behaviour change programmes. These involve structured sessions, run by skilled case workers, to make young people aware of the consequences of their actions and the effects of their behaviour on victims of crime. Involving parents in the work is a key element of the programme.
All programmes include an element of ‘Restorative Justice’, in which young people are required to think about the consequences of their actions for victims. This can involve anything from writing a letter of apology making good some of the harm caused or meeting victims face to face.
A total of 105 young people have been through the Challenge 4 Change programme in Ipswich since April 2012.
The programme has also contributed to reducing the number of young people coming into the criminal justice system for the first time – down by 33% between 2011/ 12 and 2012/13.
Because of the success the pilot scheme, Challenge 4 Change is now to be rolled out to the rest of Suffolk from 14 October 2013.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said:
“I fully support this excellent initiative and am very pleased that I have been able to fund the extension of the programme across the county. It is extremely important that we help young people to avoid getting caught in the criminal justice system. If the young people on this programme are made to realise the consequences of their actions for victims there is a real chance that they will turn their lives around. I want to see people given this second chance, but not a third or fourth.”
Stephen Toye, Suffolk County Council’s head of integrated youth support and Suffolk’s Youth Offending Service, said:
“We wanted a system in Suffolk which challenges young people and stops them offending, demands that parents are fully cooperating, invites victims to be involved if they want to and has all the professionals working together with no delays. We are delighted that the programme has proved effective.”
Suffolk Constabulary chief inspector, Jennifer Powell, said:
“We are really pleased to see the roll out of Challenge 4 Change across the county after the successful pilot that has been running in Martlesham Police Investigation Centre. Working in partnership with the Youth Offending Service, this is an excellent project which uses the expertise of youth offending team workers to make early and quick assessments of young people who have committed low level offences. In so doing, rather than young people entering the youth justice system, it allows us to offer young people alternative outcomes focused on reducing reoffending and helping them to realise a positive future.”