A programme which gives Cleveland’s first-time and low-level offenders a second chance to turn away from crime has won a national award for its efforts.
Cleveland Divert was the winning scheme in the Policing and Adults category of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Community Awards this morning (Tuesday 19 October 2021).
The Howard League’s judges said: “Divert is a testament to both how the OPCC can play a key influencing role within their communities and the sector to reduce reoffending, and the strength of the cross-agency partnerships within Cleveland.”
Divert was launched in 2018 to provide early intervention to divert offenders away from the criminal justice system and towards support to address the underlying causes of their offending behaviour.
Since its inception, more than 700 referrals have been accepted onto the programme. Re-offending rates for participants show that for every 100 participants taking part in the programme, less than six go on to re-offend.
Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner said: “It’s fantastic news that the Divert scheme has been recognised for the work it is doing to divert offenders and prevent more people from becoming victims of crime.
“The data makes it very clear that this approach works. The re-offending rate for the programme is just 5.8% – significantly lower than Cleveland’s total re-offending rate of 36.7% and the national figure of 28%.
“I passionately believe that when we present people with an opportunity to leave their mistakes in the past, that most will grasp it – and make positive choices in their future.”
Participants are identified as suitable for the scheme via their engagement with the police and are supported by specialist workers from the Probation Service.
Jo Foreman is a Senior Probation Officer with the Probation Service, she said: “We’re so pleased to be involved in this brilliant programme to rehabilitate offenders, many of whom need help to address the issues in their lives causing them to offend.
“The team have done an outstanding job and this recognition is well-deserved.”
As well as deterring offenders, the scheme aims to free up future demand for police and other services, saving public resources and money in the long-term – as well as creating fewer victims of crime.
Chief Inspector Martin Hopps from Cleveland Police said: “I’m delighted the Divert Team have been recognised nationally for their sustained efforts and ongoing commitment to reduce reoffending in Cleveland.
“Their hard work ensures offenders are presented with an opportunity to address their offending and allow them to pursue an alternative path in life. The reoffending rates prove this scheme has a positive effect on those who partake, which in turn reduces demand and more importantly reduces the number of potential victims.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Cleveland was the only OPCC in the country to receive a nomination in the prestigious ‘Organisation of the Year’ category.