Arrived in Sheffield early afternoon and went to visit two really excellent projects.
Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership As I said in my previous post, I inherited recently, the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) portfolio. So I was very keen to see the new way that Sheffield was handling its Domestic Violence agenda – as they have a new way of working. It’s called the ‘Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership’ – and the major difference is that for the first time the volunteers from the sector and the police dealing with Domestic Violence incidents are housed together. This co-location brings together multi-agency working in a new way. The colocation means that things can be handled across so many departments all by speaking to each other.
Having seen the ghastly mess of people in different agencies not knowing what each other was doing, not sharing information appropriately in a timely way n the Peter Connelly case in Haringey, this seems to be an answer.
Areas elsewhere aspire to this way of working – but having the helpline, the Independent Domestic Violence Advisers, the citywide outreach service, the youth offending service worker and the police Domestic Violence Unit tother with the Children’s Specialist Services Joint Investigation team all in the same space makes the world of difference. Everyone knows each other, what they do, how to approach things. When an incident happens – they can immediately put together the right intervention for the situation – and be on the scene within the hour. This just doesn’t happen elsewhere. There is really too much to put in a blog post – but I have copious information to study now as I think this was a real innovation.
Community Justice Panels I’d always been impressed in the past when I’d heard about these panels but this is the first occasion on which I had had the opportunity to hear first hand from the volunteers and managers – how it all worked.
Restorative Justice works. The figures speak for themselves. From ninety young people who went through the process – only three have re-offended. Those are stats to die for!
The level of nuisance to which this process can be applied is relatively minor – ie anti-social behaviour that people call the police or council about time and time again. Often it is neighbour disputes – and there cannot be a councillor or an MP in the land who doesn’t have a raft of those – long running and with no resolution ever really reached.
An incident happens. The police decide to refer it to the Community Justice Panel. The volunteers go to visit, for example, both parties and talk to them to find a way forward. If the perpetrator agrees to the proposed Justice Panel – it goes forward to the panel where both parties have to appear and speak to each other . Sometimes it is just the process of facing the reality of the impact that your thoughtless or nasty act has had on another human being’s life that makes the break through. Reparation is sought which is appropriate to the ‘crime’. If the perpetrator doesn’t want to go through this process or goes through it but mucks around or doesn’t take it seriously – then it reverts to the law.
But that statistic – out of ninety youngsters only three have re-offended, is truly incredible. And the thing about early intervention like this – is that from what the volunteers were saying – it actually not only deals with the current situation but seems to change those involved for the better.
It’s only been up and running for eighteen months – so early days – but could be a significant model for how to address some types of anti-social behaviour.
So – all in all – a really worthwhile afternoon.