Changing how the police work with repeat offenders – Bev’s story
A life transformed
By sharing her life story, Bev Hardman, a Project Support Assistant at Birmingham Changing Futures Together, is lifting theory off the page for Police Officer training, in a new approach to offender management. The result is new outcomes, built on a deeper understanding amongst the police of the challenges faced by many repeat offenders.
A new approach
WMP2020 is changing the face of policing in the West Midlands. One of the projects in this programme is Next Generation Local Policing, which is creating a new model for the policing of local neighbourhoods. The aim is to intervene earlier before issues escalate and serious offences are committed.
Fundamental to the success of Next Generation Local Policing is a new approach to Offender Management. Traditionally the police arrive on scene and deal with the incident, managing and moving on the ‘problem’ for now.
To achieve more than just this short-term fix, officers now dig deeper. Seeing a person instead of a ‘problem’, they can engage with the individual in a way being shown to reduce repeat offending.
To embed the new approach officers are taking part in Offender Management Training Days. Delivered in a class room, each day is packed with evidence-based theory and new techniques. But it is the contribution of Bev Hardman and the Experts by Experience, people with lived experience, at the end of the day that lifts the theory off the page and fundamentally shifts perceptions.
Passionate about changing the way services are delivered to people with multiple and complex needs, which are defined as offending behaviour, mental health, homelessness and substance misuse, Bev is now employed by Birmingham Changing Futures Together. But much of her life, which has involved abuse, addiction, homelessness and offending behaviour, has been chaotic and self-destructive. By telling her life story with searing honesty Bev is turning ‘problems’ into people and transforming perceptions in the process.
By telling her life story with searing honesty Bev is turning ‘problems’ into people and transforming perceptions in the process.
Sgt Spike Webb was inspired by Bev. “I found it incredibly humbling to hear Bev’s story,” he said. “It was a very powerful human connection.
“We have a duty to safeguard the public and listening to Bev brought home what I already knew – that means all members of the public.
“All of us could immediately think of someone caught right now in the ‘revolving door’ of the custody suite, and with Bev’s insight, could see a way of helping them out of the trap and onto a new, more constructive path.”
The power of lived experience
As well as the talking to officers on the training days Bev is working on Birmingham Changing Futures Together’s Inreach Outreach programme. A former Expert by Experience herself, she supports current Experts by Experience (people with lived experience who are on the journey of change) to visit vulnerable people identified by Crisis Point organisations, which include the police and hostels.
Bev herself has worked with Verity Fraser-Dickson, a police officer in the new post of Engagement Officer for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, to build trust-based relationships with people stuck in repetitive, destructive patterns.
“We have tried many times to engage a woman in her 50s who was experiencing domestic violence and had problems with alcohol,” explained Verity. “I had worked hard to build a relationship with her but getting her to connect with the services available felt impossible. Everything changed when we took Bev with us.”
“Bev said ‘this is what I was living’. The woman’s shame fell away and she opened up as she had never done before. The West Midlands Police is a member of the No Wrong Door Network and because of the connection built that day we have successfully referred her to the services she needs. There is a long way to go but she is now engaging with the support that can help her transform her life.”
“I will never stop going back to people who are struggling with these problems,” said Bev. “I am where I am because someone refused to give up on me, so I will not give up on others.”
About Birmingham Changing Futures Together
Birmingham Changing Futures Together improves the effectiveness of service provision to those with multiple and complex needs (homelessness, substance misuse, offending behaviour and mental health) by creating a ‘community of support’ comprising organisations in the sector, identifying and sharing best practice and establishing new approaches.
Often the best person to talk to is someone with similar experiences so our Experts by Experience take information on services directly to where the clients are, Crisis Point organisations where they may fall through the gaps, e.g. hostels.
The No Wrong Door Network
At the heart of the Changing Futures approach, the No Wrong Door Network is a group of organisations, which includes West Midlands Police, working together to ensure service users, with at least two of the four complex needs (homelessness, substance misuse, offending and mental health) can access a whole system through one referral.
But engagement in the Birmingham Changing Futures Together programme is not limited to those charities and organisations formally part of the No Wrong Door Network. All organisations working in these areas can benefit from evidence- based best practice approaches being developed, the personal development opportunities available and the access to a community of others in the sector.