3 July 2012
Joining-up intelligence and resources to target better integrated interventions, gain efficiencies and improve outcomes has become a mantra across Whitehall. In the criminal justice system we have seen numerous attempts at this at a local level, each adding a new acronym to the lexicon, including CSP (Community Safety Partnerships), MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements), and DIP (Drug Interventions Programme).
Integrated Offender Management (IOM) is one such approach that has survived the transition from Labour to the coalition government and is being promoted by the Home Office.
IOM differs from area to area and while some are further ahead than others, all share a basic approach that involves targeting people at risk of repeat offending and offering support to those who agree to take part alongside enhanced supervision. Often it is targeted at repeat offenders on short sentences who would not normally come under the wing of probation.
Given that the men and women who fall into this group are likely to have multiple needs, getting the right partners working together and coordinating approaches is essential. Drug and alcohol addiction, poor mental health, homelessness and lack of positive social networks trap people in live of chaos and crime. Our work in London with IOM teams shows that there are mutual benefits when police, probation, health and other partners work closely together.
Our new briefing, Integrated Offender Management – Effective alternatives to short sentences, published today as part of our SPARK programme, draws on this experience and emerging good practice from around the country to highlight some of the ways that IOM can identify and improve access to services for people who often find that help is fragmented or non-existent. Successful approaches include linking statutory services such as police and council services together and in many areas the voluntary sector is providing additional options in terms of treatment or support. This week, for example, Penrose Housing, launches a new service working alongside IOM in Luton.
It's still early days for the approach. It will be critical, especially given diminishing resources, that IOM is effectively linked to other local initiatives such as criminal justice liaison and diversion schemes and alternatives to custody projects.
Making these links will require local leadership. Police and Crime Commissioner candidates should be thinking how their new powers and responsibilities can help leverage the necessary relationships. Health and Wellbeing Boards will be essential to ensure that the social and other needs of the IOM cohort are considered and suitable pathways to support and treatment are provided.
One of the approaches we'll be promoting is the opportunity to improve IOM approaches and engagement through good quality service user involvement. People who have benefited from IOM and made a change in their lives will be the best advocates of the approach to others who may be sceptical that it will make a difference. They will also help IOM partnerships understand how they might tailor their approach to meet the needs of their local cohort. In London we will be working with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to consider how user involvement might be incorporated in to the IOM approach.
IOM won’t be a panacea, but it will provide a useful new tool to tackle repeat offending and if integrated with other services in the criminal justice system and the community, it could provide a means of engaging people who have previously been caught in the revolving door.
Please get in touch to let us know how IOM is working in your area. We are keen to highlight schemes especially those have been evaluated.