Merseyside aims to rehabilitate and educate offenders through new initiative
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The Liverpool Integrated Offender Management (IOM) Team is made up of staff from the National Probation Service and Merseyside Police, offering a multi-agency approach to tackle knife crime and organised crime.
Together, they offer a programme aimed at rehabilitating offenders safely back into society whilst educating them on the dangers of knife crime and how they can make more positive choices going forward.
The programme, which is delivered on a one-to-one basis covering 6 modules over 8-12 weeks, was developed following the murder of Sam Cook in 2018 when it was realised that there was no bespoke programme for adults involved in knife crime.
Those currently enrolled on the programme range in age from 18 to their late 70s and have committed offences including possession of a bladed article, assault, aggravated burglary and murder.
Statements from Service Users:
“I first started carrying knives at the age of 14. I liked to 'show off', it made me look tough.”
“Carrying a knife became like putting on your socks.”
This programme focuses on a variety of aspects where the service user is asked why they committed the offence, to consider the feelings of those also affected, including families, medical staff, police and passers-by, to explore the reasons behind them carrying a knife, to devise a realistic plan to move forward and to share letters to and from their own families and understand how life could have been, but still can be different.
Joy Keenan, Senior Probation Officer said: “If you are carrying a knife, the intent to harm someone is already there regardless of whether you believe it or not. Therefore, we want to educate service users that this is not normal behaviour and they can achieve much more instead of getting sucked in to a life of crime.
“Individuals who carry weapons are likely to think that it will help them to protect themselves, add to their sense of ego and make them look good in front of their peers. In reality, by carrying a knife you are much more likely to end up injuring yourself or using it.”
The feedback from those that are currently on or have been on the programme already has been really positive and has given us a greater understanding of how people can be deterred from carrying and using weapons, getting involved in crime and reoffending.
What’s next for Liverpool IOM?
Joy Keenan, Senior Probation Officer continued: “The plans for the future are to roll this programme out to all IOMs across Merseyside as well as to other forces in the country who have already shown an interest in what we do.
“We also plan to work more closely with street doctors, often who are students from university, housing services and other partners to provide service users with the best chances of success and capability to move on with their lives.”
For more information on diversionary activities, please follow @OurMerseyside on social media. #BladeFree