Last week I wrote about the changes that Hampshire Constabulary had made to their safeguarding teams in relation to domestic abuse, and how victims are safeguarded.
In the case of domestic incidents, the offenders will harm a specific person, or sometimes a few, therefore the safeguarding efforts completed by officers involved in this type crime is concentrated on a relatively small number of victims when compared to victims of other types of crime, such as non-domestic violence, burglary, sexual offences and the exploitation of young people.
In all these other types of crime, there are a large number of potential victims, therefore concentrating efforts on the offender is the method used to safeguard the community as a whole.
Take for example violent people: these are a risk to anyone at any time, because they have the personality to become violent over simple disputes, or for no reason at all, quite often when under the influence of drink or drugs.
There are also people who will commit crimes such as burglary, breaking into cars, or shoplifting, but they are what is called `prolific` which means that they will be responsible for numerous crimes.
There are officers who work in Offender Management Units, who will be assigned to manage these offenders and work with them.
The purpose of this role is to work with the Probation Service and assist the person in changing their ways which in turn will prevent offending and result in fewer victims.
It is not an easy role and the success is varied, mainly because you are trying to change someone whose background will be very complex. It is difficult for them to understand things in the way that other people do as well.
Officers in Offender Management will concentrate on something called the `7 Pathways`. These are specific aspects of someone`s life considered essential to assist in change and ensure offenders willing to stop committing crime can do so.
The 7 pathways are:
- Education, training and employment.
- Drugs and alcohol.
- Finance, benefit and debt.
- Children and families.
- Attitudes, thinking and behaviour.
A person who is under the Probation Service and who has at least one of the above needs will be managed by Offender Management Units.
Officers will assist by signposting people to support services where there is an expectation for them to engage and try hard to change. For example, someone without a home and who is drug dependent will struggle without support, because they will `sofa-surf` and therefore associate with other drug or drink dependent people, where the environment will no be suitable to create change.
Therefore, officers will visit them and check that they are progressing. Those willing to receive support are more likely to achieve sustainable change.
However, for those people who fail to engage and continue to commit crime, the officers in Offender Management Units will be responsible for ensuring they are arrested at the earliest opportunity and put before the court, where a remand into custody will be sought.
Sexual offenders and those who groom children to become involved in crime, or to engage in sexual activity with them, are of high risk to the public.
Offender Management Units will have other functions within, including Multi-Agency Assessment Public Protection (MAPPA) and Missing, Exploited and Trafficked (MET) who will closely monitor people who are at risk of offending sexually or against children.
Again, they will seek to engage these people with the support services who will steer them away from committing these types of crime, which will include medical services and mental health provision, which will usually be necessary.
As before, if these people fail to engage and they either offend or behave in a way that increases the risk of them offending, then the officers will ensure their quick arrest, or the application of court orders to prevent them offending, where their internet use is closely monitored and they will be prevented from going to places or in company with young people, for example.
This is a specialist area of work and it will often involve working in partnership with other agencies. It is also relentless and hard work, because the hardest of the 7 Pathways, `attitudes, thinking and behaviour`, is considered the hardest to change because most offenders have known nothing different in their lives, despite their wish to change.
The officers who work in offender management and safeguarding are the unseen people who make a huge difference to community safety. It is important for the community to know about these aspects of policing, which they might otherwise not know about.
If you hear about someone near you who may present a risk to the community, please report this via 101 or through Crimestoppers (https://crimestoppers-uk.org/ or 0800 555 111)
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Station.