HACRO has been working with Hertfordshire Constabulary and BeNCH on a programme which aims to assist the rehabilitation of prolific offenders. We deal with the hardest to reach cases; those who do not want to engage with the police and the probation service. We work with a small number from a group of around 100 who are responsible for a very large proportion of acquisitive crime – Burglary and Shoplifting – in Hertfordshire.
LEAVING PRISON BEHIND- An Overview of Our Work
After 4 years of working with and being supported by the Police and Bench, we applied to be a partner in the HCC Building Better Opportunities project and were delighted in August 2016 to be advised that we would be moving forward as one of 27 partners across Hertfordshire in this project (see our blog page for ongoing information on the project).
The HACRO Mentor on the project is Tony Franklin (himself an ex-offender), who supported by HACRO Trustees ,Members and other Partners works with the Police Integrated Offender Management Team and BeNCH in referring offenders to HACRO.
HACRO’s mentoring programme is intensive and provides practical support in meeting employment, health and housing needs. Our support helps to keep the majority of offenders clear of crime, saving community costs of prison, court time and police resources.
The road to rehabilitation is long. Many of those we work with have a background of drugs and alcohol problems, they have had a chaotic lifestyle and find it difficult to find a normal life in the community.
We bring the offenders together in groups and involve them in project work and engagement activities including tiling, decorating, bricklaying, plumbing and other relevant trade and horticultural skills.
This involvement is voluntary and the participants have to show that they want to do jobs which help the community. Invariably, Tony Franklin uses the group activity to mentor the team members and iron out personal problems.
Current Leaving Prison Behind Projects include:
Digswell Nursery in Welwyn Garden City where the team learn horticulture, have built a play area, carry out general ground maintenance and make garden furniture for sale. The teams obtain new skills via engagement activities including tiling, bricklaying, plumbing and other trade skills, working together and most importantly, get used to working as an alternative to committing crime. Some move on to obtain a City and Guilds qualification and a growing number have moved on to full-time work.
Hemel Rugby Club, where the project team have re-decorated the club house, retiled the changing rooms, updated the plumbing, working alongside professional tradesmen, and installed decking around the club house giving spectators a good spot to watch the matches. Three of those involved in the Hemel project have gone on to find jobs.
Emmaus, St. Albans is a well – established homeless charity with a difference, providing accommodation and work for people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. In 2015 with, we started work on projects with Emmaus in St. Albans.
The work to date has included, gardening within the grounds and surrounding areas of the Emmaus property, rubbish clearing and repairing of pot holes in the roads of the Emmaus property and grounds, shrubbery tidying and cultivating throughout the front and back of the property, building and putting up Marquees for the Emmaus Open Days and helping to set up and organise the Emmaus workshop areas.
Some Leaving Prison Behind Team Members comments:
Luke, 22 from Watford was a prolific burglar and has been working on projects for the last eight months, two days per week.
Luke says “I don’t mind doing it; it keeps me out of trouble. It is something useful to do and I learn new things and meet new people. I hope to start work soon and can put this down on my CV as volunteer work.”
Will, 20 is also from Watford said. “It kept me out of trouble as I was doing a day’s work. As I became trusted I was given more things to do, such as driving machinery.”
Will has since got a job doing maintenance work at parks and cemeteries. “I am not being forced to do this – I have made the decision to help out myself and that makes me feel good about myself.”