TWELVE community groups and organisations have been awarded grants totalling around £315,000 in the third and final round of the £1 million Innovation Fund set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.
Angus Macpherson has used the fund to commission community and voluntary projects which seek to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and support victims and vulnerable people in innovative ways.
Mr Macpherson said: “The Innovation Fund is a one-off fund I set up after I took office. It was a way of putting £1m from my reserves to very good use supporting new and exciting projects in line with my six main priorities.
“I have been keen to encourage organisations that are doing similar work to see if they can work together and provide greater resilience as well as covering a wider geographic area.
“I was particularly looking for innovative new ideas from within the 51 applications that would help to break cycles of crime and anti-social behaviour, including supporting repeat offenders.”
The Commissioner’s six main priorities are working with communities and partners to:
• Reduce crime and anti-social behaviour
• Protect the most vulnerable in society
• Put victims and witnesses first
• Reduce offending and re-offending
• Drive up standards of customer service
• Ensure unfailing and timely response to calls for assistance
The panel for the third round was made up of Mr Macpherson, Deputy Chief Constable Mike Veale, Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott, Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard and Chief Executive of the Community Foundation for Wiltshire & Swindon Rosemary Macdonald.
Mr Macpherson said: “Across the three funding rounds we have been able to support a total of 35 schemes.
“Now we must start to look at the early results of the schemes which we funded in 2013, so we will be asking them to feed back their experiences so far and the impact their projects are making in their area.
“We are drawing a line now under the Innovation Fund, but if any of the projects we have funded demonstrably reduce crime there is no reason why they should not be considered for mainstream funding.”
In the third and final Innovation Fund round, grants were awarded as follows (recipients listed in alphabetical order):
Alabaré - £20,228 to avoid vulnerable young people staying in police stations.
Vulnerable young people who run away face immediate risks including potential offending, sexual exploitation and criminality. Wiltshire Child Protection Unit reports delays in finding accommodation for young people picked up by the police who are unable to return home immediately. This can result in them spending an excessive and stressful time at a police station, as well as the time and cost implications for the police. Alabaré already provides supported accommodation to vulnerable young people under contract to Wiltshire Council. It proposes to use capacity in its existing accommodation in Salisbury and Trowbridge to provide out of hours access of up to seven days accommodation for a vulnerable young person. Two beds are permanently available. Based on the full stay of seven days, 104 young people will directly benefit, although it is anticipated that this figure could be as high as 250.
DASH (Discovering Autistic Spectrum Happiness) - £11,500 to help protect vulnerable people.
Adults with Asperger syndrome are seven times more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system than those without the condition. They can be confused by events around them and find unexpected situations difficult to cope with, quickly becoming anxious. Their anxiety can be misconstrued as aggression. DASH seeks to employ a part time worker who can help to protect vulnerable people and hopefully prevent their involvement in offending. Front line workers would be trained and supported to be more aware of the condition and how to adapt working practices for a better outcome. The benefits of the Autism Alert Card would be promoted and an out of hours outreach service would respond to individuals who are having problems dealing with services, including the criminal justice system.
National Ugly Mugs - £5,000 to improve safety and access to justice for sex workers.
National Ugly Mugs (NUM) aims to reduce crime and protect vulnerable people by improving the safety of sex workers and their access to justice. The National Network of Sex Workers project identified the need for the scheme and a pilot, funded by the Home Office, was run. Since then, individual police forces have each been providing a sum of money in order for the scheme to provide intelligence about crime against sex workers. Sex workers are often targeted by serial sexual predators who use them as test victims because they believe the victim will not report the incident to the police for fear of reprisal. More than 700 incidents have been reported since the scheme began with less than 25 per cent willing formally to report the crime to the police. These include 122 rapes, 60 sexual attacks and 305 acts of violence. The majority (95 per cent) allow us to share the intelligence with the police and the Serious Crimes Analysis Section (part of the National Crime Agency (http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/about-us/what-we-do/specialist-capabilities/serious-crime-analysis-section) anonymously but to provide all the information about the perpetrator. This project will provide for a training event and support for Wiltshire Police officers and further support for the project to reach sex workers across Wiltshire and Swindon.
Social Care in Action - £29,600 to provide support for vulnerable adults leaving custody in Swindon.
Social Care in Action will offer support to between 150 and 200 vulnerable adults leaving custody in Swindon. This is short-term targeted support within one to three days of leaving custody. There will be help and guidance designed to reduce the likelihood of re-offending because of problems with housing, benefits, jobs, health or debt. Individuals needing support will be referred by police staff. The project will be run by an Advocacy Manager and will use 20 trained volunteer advocates. After an initial six meetings of targeted support the volunteers will continue to support the individual for a further three months.
SPLITZ - £35,000 to tackle date abuse among young people.
SPLITZ wishes to address the issue of dating abuse (physical, emotional, verbal and sexual) among young people. Research has shown that this is common and considered normal by many. A 2009 Wiltshire survey revealed that 23.6 per cent of those who responded thought it OK to abuse someone and 54 per cent thought that victims were responsible for the abuse which they may experience in a relationship. Young people need to be able to develop healthy and respectful relationships so as not to become victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse. The project aims to run a programme in four contrasting schools in Wiltshire (rural, urban high incidence of domestic abuse versus low incidence), culminating in a conference to share the learning. The programme consists of weekly two-hour sessions over a 12-week period. Ninety six pupils identified by their school will be invited to take part and parents will receive a briefing on the project. Through the project young people will gain a greater understanding of what is respectful behaviour in a relationship and be given strategies to challenge abusive behaviour. A baseline assessment and end-of-project evaluation will map changes in attitude as well as feedback from schools and parents. Young people will be asked to develop a personal safety plan for dating.
Swindon Youth Offending Team - £78,000 to help young offenders to overcome communication barriers.
There is substantial evidence to suggest that communication difficulties are a considerable contributory factor when looking at offending and anti-social behaviour. Research shows that 60 to 90 per cent of offenders have communication difficulties. These difficulties often remain unidentified and this results in a lack of comprehension and minimal change in behaviour. A lack of understanding about the impact of the offence on their victim can also affect the outcomes of using the restorative justice approach. Swindon Youth Offending Team wishes to employ a specialist speech and language therapist. The aim will be to diagnose disabilities and then work with individual young people, helping them to overcome barriers or identifying coping mechanisms to improve their communication skills. An additional benefit will be that other members of staff will also receive training to increase their knowledge and confidence in how to deal with communication disabilities in young people.
The Nelson Trust – £34,382 to employ a sex work outreach worker.
The Manchester Road area of Swindon is known to be a place where sex workers operate. Aside from kerb crawling in the area, which presents a risk to local women and girls, there are a range of anti-social behaviours which represent a threat to local residents and businesses. The most vulnerable are the sex workers themselves who are at risk of rape, sexual assault, violence, trafficking, robbery and a range of serious health problems associated with sex work and substance misuse. Home Office research recognises outreach work as one of the most effective ways to address street sex working. The grant will be used to employ a full-time sex work outreach worker (SWOW) who will liaise between the Swindon Sex Worker Forum (and its partners) and women sex workers. It is anticipated that between 20 and 30 women will be provided with support. The ultimate goal of the project will be to move women away from sex work, although this is only likely to apply to the minority. Other support will focus on assessing and dealing with priority issues which might include physical or sexual health, drugs and alcohol etc to minimise the impact on the women and the local community. The service will be based at the ISIS Women’s Centre in Swindon, a partnership between the Nelson Trust and Wiltshire Probation Trust which serves the whole of Wiltshire.”
Wheels Workshop at the Oakfields Project, Marlowe Avenue, Swindon - £1,000 for road safety and responsible vehicle use for young people at risk of exclusion.
The Wheels Workshop is based at the Oakfield Campus. It works with a range of young people who have learning disabilities or anger issues. The workshop also caters for disengaged students aged 14-18 who are at risk of permanent exclusion and potential disengagement from society as a whole, as a result of anti-social and criminal activities. Wheels Workshop provides training about road safety, mechanics and the laws surrounding vehicle crime. The project attracts young people who have already driven vehicles illegally, committed car crime or, by the nature of their peer groups, are likely to do so in the future. It also provides practical instruction on mechanics and tuition on riding motor cycles in a safe, controlled and legal manner. The two weekly workshops are each attended by two groups of up to six young people. Statistics suggest that a high percentage of road deaths and casualties are caused by inexperienced young people. As a result of the project, young people will understand the law and the consequences for their future of engaging in car crime. Young people will be more aware of road safety and understand why recklessness is a danger to them and other road users. Success is measured through attendance and engagement and the young people not engaging in car crime.
Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (Salisbury) - £2,175 to promote first aid for young drivers.
First Aid for Young Drivers will provide five sessions of three and a half hours for groups of 15 young people aged 17-25 in south Wiltshire to promote safer driving and training to prevent accidents and equip young people with practical first aid skills.
Wiltshire Mind counselling project - £28,405 for counselling for people at risk of offending.
Wiltshire Probation Trust estimates that at least 25 per cent of its clients have mental health problems linked to a risk of them re-offending. Wiltshire Mind, working with Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Targets for Change (SWITCH) has identified the need for a non-clinical intervention, in this case a counselling service. Referrals will come primarily through SWITCH, but can also come from the new Court Assessment and Referral Service (CARS). The aim of the project is to enable individuals to manage their lives better, moving away from dangerous and harmful lifestyles and offending. Referrals will also be made to other specialist agencies such as Swindon and Wiltshire Alcohol and Drug Service (SWADS). The project will be a six month pilot providing a counselling service for 36 adults with mental problems who are at risk of offending or re-offending. The counselling will take place in Melksham, Swindon and Salisbury. Three part-time counsellors will be employed, together with a part-time project manager. Over each two month period, 12 clients will use the service, each with a one-hour assessment and then an average of up to eight sessions of 45-50 minutes per client.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust - £58,149 for training and work experience for long-term unemployed young people.
Young people who are not in education, employment or training (known as NEETs) are 20 times more likely to commit crime. It is thought that 6.8 per cent of Wiltshire young people are NEETs. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) carried out research into local needs and other agencies working in this area. Those organisations then decided to come together to form the Repair Academy (RA) to increase their effectiveness. The RA is a consortium of related organisations: Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Kennet Furniture Refurbiz (KFR), Waste Not Want Not, Community First, Hills Waste Solutions and Wiltshire and Swindon Colleges. The RA will be set up as a social enterprise. The project will provide training and work experience to long-term unemployed and NEET young people, particularly those at risk of offending. The training will consist of the refurbishment and recycling of white goods and furniture, much of which will then be provided at low cost to low-income families and those in crisis. This will be supplemented by a traineeship programme by the colleges to attain qualifications. The estimate is that 96 young people will be trained each year. Recipients of the refurbished goods will also benefit. This will reduce the number of NEET young people and the likelihood of crime.
Wiltshire Council ZeeTee campaign - £11,775 to counter homophobic bullying.
Extensive research shows that homophobic bullying has a very detrimental effect on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) young people. Fifty six per cent of these young people self-harm and almost 25 per cent attempt suicide. Thirty two per cent do not go on to attend college or university as a result of their negative experience at school. It is estimated that six per cent of the population are gay, so for an average-sized school of 1,000 pupils, some 60 will be gay. Others will have gay parents or gay brothers and sisters. The ZeeTee campaign will deliver a special 18-minute assembly into ten secondary and primary schools, benefiting an estimated 10 to 20,000 pupils. The session will include a film made by LGBT young people from Trowbridge who talk about the issues that affect them. The presentation also includes the story of a young man who took his own life after an incident on social media. Pre and post campaign surveys will be carried out and there will also be the opportunity for a follow-up survey after four to six months.