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Fears for future of rehabilitation
The Society of St James says it is “waiting with bated breath” to see if whoever is elected to the £85,000-a-year post will continue to support the schemes that help to rehabilitate offenders.
Some of the projects have cut re-offending by up to 80 per cent, and the charity says the schemes offer “stunning value for money”.
But the charity thinks that headline grabbing policies such as boosting frontline policing and increasing arrests are more popular with voters – who will elect a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) next week.
The election has thrown the future of projects to rehabilitate offenders into doubt, as it is unclear if whoever becomes the first PCC will continue to back the funding for them.
The Operations Director at the Society of St James, Mike Taylor, said: “It’s all uncertain next year because we don’t know what the PCC is going to do.
“What we’re nervous about is the PCC really focusing on frontline policing, making more arrests etc, which are very popular policies.
“But we want to see better community links and better investment in real practical programmes for offenders leaving prison to engage them in meaningful activities.
“I think we need to see much more joined up work with the police, probation and the voluntary sector.”
The Southampton charity runs a variety of projects – including specialist accommodation in Southampton for people that have just left prison, which has cut re-offending by 80 per cent.
Other schemes include training former offenders to go into schools and colleges and talk about the reality of prison life.
Mr Taylor added: “These projects are stunning value for money.
“Our volunteering scheme costs something in the region of £15,000 a year.
“The results of this are 12 offenders giving back to the community, which is hard to quantify.
“But we can clearly see a reduction in reoffending – and it’s fantastic value when you think how much it costs to lock them up for a week.
“There’s very few projects out there producing that level of result – and these are the ones with the most uncertainty.”
Hampshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner will replace the current Hampshire Police Authority and have the crucial role of setting police budgets, shaping crime-fighting strategies and hiring and firing the chief constable.
In the elections, a total of 41 new PCCs will be elected across England and Wales with the aim of making policing more accountable to the electorate.
Voters will go to the polls to elect a PCC in Hampshire on Thursday, November 15.
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