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Scheme for female offenders expanded

A scheme to help female offenders turn their lives around is set to be expanded across the county thanks to a new partnership supported by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green.

The *WONDER Project was launched as a year-long pilot in February 2017 to offer help and support to women released from police custody facilities in Wymondham and King’s Lynn.

Following its success the initiative, funded by PCC Lorne Green and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), has now secured further funds to allow the addition of more services over the next three years.

And the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner can announce today it will be working alongside St Giles Trust, in collaboration with City Reach and Future Projects, to deliver the WONDER+ programme.

PCC Lorne Green, said: “I am delighted that we will be working with St Giles Trust, City Reach and Future Projects to deliver WONDER+.

“The female offenders coming into contact with our criminal justice system often have complex needs, and can be some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged women in society.

“The latest MOJ funding will not only see the initiative grow geographically, to cover all rural and urban areas of Norfolk, but also beyond Norfolk’s custody facilities which is fantastic.

“It is vital women are able to access help and support to address the root causes and consequences of what they’re doing and, together, these three organisations have a whole raft of knowledge, experience and advice to offer them.”

Norfolk was one of just four areas in the country to receive the original funding from the MOJ.

The pilot scheme sought to divert female detainees eligible to take part in the project, away from police custody facilities in Wymondham and King’s Lynn. The women participating in WONDER were those who received a conditional caution or those who voluntarily referred themselves on to the project, which put a particular focus on making support more accessible for women in rural areas.

WONDER+ will now work across the whole criminal justice system, utilising a number of diversion points including interactions through community policing, police custody, district council-based multi-agency early help hubs, victim services, health services and other help and support networks for vulnerable women.

All women taking part will meet with a project link worker, who will assess their individual needs and develop a tailored support and development plan for addressing those needs.

Lorne added: “Vulnerable women can become entrenched in offending behaviour, impacting on their children, families and the wider community, and it is crucial they are able to access the help and support they need to address the causes and consequences of what they’re doing.”

Rob Owen CEO of St Giles Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in Norfolk offering vulnerable women in the criminal justice system the care and support they need to turn their lives around. We have many of years of experience in doing this type of work and are pleased to be sharing this by working in partnership with Future Projects and City Reach.

“Our peer-led approach of using professionally trained former service users to offer our services means they can reach the most vulnerable individuals who may not usually respond to other services.

“By offering support from someone who has been there themselves, we are confident we can make a real difference to many lives. We look forward to delivering an effective support service to women through the Wonder+ Project.”

Daniel Childerhouse CEO of Future Projects, added: “Future Projects is delighted to be involved in the partnership which will be taking the WONDER project forward.

“We firmly believe that specialist early interventions are the best way to deliver the help and support that women in Norfolk need to move forward in their lives and avoid offending or risky behaviours.

“We believe that every adult matters and that as providers of support services we must take the time to understand the strengths, needs and ambitions of the women of Norfolk so that we can better help them realise their potential.

“We are really looking forward to delivering this through the WONDER+ Project, along with our partners.”

The total cost of the three-year WONDER+ Project is £524,000 – joint funded by the MOJ, the Office of the PCC in partnership with the Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company and Norfolk County Council Public Health.

*WONDER stands for Women Offenders of Norfolk Diversion, Engagement and Rehabilitation Project.