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Innovative mental health project receives worldwide attention

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An innovative mental health project, based at the Milton Keynes probation office in Buckinghamshire is attracting attention from across the world as a beacon of best practice.

As well as being named Runner-Up for a Howard League for Penal Reform award in July, it was selected to be the focus of one of the workshops for the World Probation Congress held in Los Angeles earlier that month.

The innovative project, which began in April 2014, has seen a dramatic improvement in the use and effectiveness of mental health treatment for offenders, which, in turn, can lead to a significant reduction in re-offending. It is proof of the successful way in which multi-discipline agencies can effectively work together.

It offers enhanced and coordinated mental health services to offenders who present with mental health vulnerabilities at their first court hearing.

The pilot brings together a number of therapeutic psychological treatments and social care models, which are being independently evaluated. The approach is holistic, so that health and social care issues are addressed both before and after sentence.

More than 100 offenders have now passed through the pilot. This contrasts with just one in Milton Keynes and 13 across Thames Valley as a whole in 2013.

It demonstrates how effectively psychological interventions can be sequenced with other psychiatric illness treatments or offer those with lower level mental/psychological needs an alternative treatment.

Independently evaluated health and justice metrics are being used to look at each person’s criminogenic score, to ensure that the service offered is leading to a reduction in re-offending.

This, in turn means fewer victims and less cost to the public purse, in terms of police, probation and courts’ time, compared to the cost of treatments provided.

The project is a partnership between Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (TV-CRC), St Andrew’s Healthcare (a specialist mental health charity), P3 (a social enterprise charity) and the National Probation Service (NPS).

It is supported through a wider steering group, which includes representatives from NHS England (which funds the pilot), Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service, solicitors, the Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England.

“What we’re offering is an integrated wraparound service at the right time and with the right connections,” said Denise Butt, who chairs the project’s steering group and is Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company’s lead for public protection and partnerships.

Denise will be travelling to Los Angeles to deliver the workshop presentation, alongside the project lead from St Andrew’s Healthcare, Mignon French. The presentation will detail the training programme for the Judiciary, probation and health staff and will describe the process and treatment models, plus the evaluation and results to date.

“Poor health and particularly poor mental health gets in the way of people getting on with their lives. What we’re trying to do with this project is not a ‘sticking plaster’ option but a real way of removing obstacles to good mental health treatment and additional community support, which can stop someone from going on to harm their own life and those of others,’ said Denise.

“If you’ve got no home, no job, no future and, on top of all that you have mental health issues, you won’t have any self-worth or hope for the future. We’re trying to give people the right skills and confidence, plus the right support, at the right time and signposting, so people can access the help they need to get on with crime-free lives,” she added.

This pilot is taking place at a time when it is generally recognised that across England and Wales there is a lack of provision in the mainstream mental health services that support the specific needs of offenders. Many present with complex mental health and social care issues and it’s important that the underlying causes of the offending behaviour are addressed, if we are to reduce the likelihood of further offending.

Research has estimated that at almost 40% of offenders supervised by probation services in England and Wales have mental health problems. However, investment in research focusing on the mental health needs of offenders serving community sentences has been limited.

Transforming Rehabilitation: Announcement of acquisition – 01 February 2015

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As of yesterday (1 February) the transfer of ownership of Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company, to MTCnovo is complete.

MTCnovo is a new venture between the third, public and private sector, which has been established to provide rehabilitation services across London and Thames Valley from February 2015. The venture comprises of Management & Training Corporation (MTC) and novo – a consortium of a number of public, private and third sector shareholders including RISE, A Band of Brothers, The Manchester College, Thames Valley Partnership and Amey.

Rebecca Grattan, Chief Operating Officer of MTCnovo said: “We are pleased to confirm that MTCnovo has completed the acquisition of London and Thames Valley CRCs.  We will now draw on the skills and expertise of our staff and supply chain partners to focus on the critical task of reducing reoffending across London and Thames Valley.”

MTCnovo will become a partner in the wider transformation of the offender rehabilitation system in England. MTCnovo will reduce reoffending by delivering comprehensive rehabilitative services ensuring that for the first time, prisoners with sentences of less than 12 months will start to prepare for their reintegration back into society from the day they are imprisoned. Harnessing the professionalism and expertise of the workforce, MTCnovo will ensure time in prison is spent productively on activities, education, and health programmes that will help to reduce the chance of reoffending on release.

MTCnovo will also introduce an offender cohort model for the first time, which will see groups of offenders – women, 18-25 year olds, working age males, older males and those with a chronic illness, mental illness or intellectual disabilities – identified before services are tailored around the needs of each cohort. MTCnovo will work with a range of locally relevant supply chain partners from the voluntary sector to ensure provision is tailored to these cohorts and links offenders back into communities.

TV-CRC awarded EFQM Committed to Excellence Award

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Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the EFQM Committed to Excellence Award 2*.

This is our first move back on the EFQM stepladder since becoming a CRC in June 2014. Previously, as Thames Valley Probation Trust, we achieved EFQM 5* Recognised for Excellence. Now, as a new company, we are thrilled to have achieved the 2* rating on our first attempt. EFQM Levels of Excellence is Europe’s leading certification programme for recognising high levels of organisational performance.

We are as committed as ever to EFQM and hope to continue our journey towards excellence.

To see the full details of award on the British Quality Foundation website, follow this link:

Transforming Rehabilitation: Announcement of Contract Signature

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The Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has signed contracts with the new providers for the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). This announcement marks another significant step towards completing the government’s probation reforms.

The confirmed new owner of Thames Valley CRC is MTCnovo

MTCnovo is a Joint Venture involving:

  • MTC (Management Training Corporation) – a private company
  • novo a consortium with a number of public, private and third sector shareholders including, but not limited to:

RISE – a probation staff community interest company
A Band of Brothers – a charity
The Manchester College (TMC) – a public sector education provider
Thames Valley Partnership (TVP) – a charity
Amey – a private company

Paul Gillbard, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company said,

”Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company is committed to our aim of ‘less re-offending, fewer victims’ and keeping communities across Thames Valley safe. We look forward to working with MTCnovo to develop even more effective services.”

The transfer of ownership of all the CRCs will take place on 1 February 2015.