RR3 roundtable on substance misuse and addiction for people involved with the criminal justice system
RR3 is the the ‘Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group’; the group provides third sector opinions to government on issues surrounding the criminal justice system. On the 11th October the group met to discuss substance misuse and addiction for people involved with the criminal justice system. Two members from the NECG attended the meeting alongside group facilitator Sarah Robinson. The blog below is the reflections on the day by one of the attendees.
Chris Panikkou, South East Fulfilling Lives
Chris Panikkou, project consultant based at Fulfilling lives in Hastings attended the CLINKS reducing reoffending (RR3) roundtable meeting on the 11th October 2017. The day was attended by professionals within the prison system, a peer led organisation manager, sex working staff and probation service staff.
The agenda included ‘How does it look for somebody going to prison with substance misuse issues’. The discussion was aimed at what support the offender has in place prior to entering prison. The support given once the offender enters the prison population. The discussion also highlighted ‘What does a service user’s journey through the criminal justice system look like?’ The points raised were mental health support, housing, benefits and substance misuse. The ideal package would be for all the services supporting the individual to work closer once the person enters prison. To follow the person up until incarceration. Support then handed over to carry on with the offender until release. They have some of said issues in place prior to release. Our summary was to allow much more data sharing so that all the support services have positive outcomes for the offender upon release. Another part of the agenda was the ‘Service users priority needs’. One thing that was highlighted was the lack of substance misuse training for prison officers/staff. Again what has been stated previously is a shared support service for the individual to allow them a chance of not reoffending.
After lunch we discussed what the challenges were for voluntary sector organisations providing services in addiction, substance misuse and recovery. After much talk and ideas on this matter. The thought came to the lack of people with lived experience working within the prison system. There are already professionals and volunteers providing support in the prison system, so why is a problem for many with lived experience not getting prison clearance. We know that this will be at the discretion of each prison governor.
The discussion also moved to the subject of ‘through the gate work’ which is the support or lack of support for those leaving prison. Some ideas were that more volunteer sector support services were needed to guide the service user to all appointments upon release, as so many do reoffend and possibly not engage with services in the community.
So how can these challenges be addressed. The obvious is more money. The other ideas that came up were data sharing, support services working closer with the individual, more recovery focused support for the offenders that want to change, training for prison staff around substance misuse.
Documents from the roundtable
There was a considerable level of interest in this subject matter across the NECG and so the group will be answering the same questions posed by the RR3 in their next quarterly meeting in Newcastle in December.