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Why is this issue important?

Offenders and people released from prison are likely to be a socially disenfranchised and excluded group. Offenders are far more likely than the general population to suffer from mental illness, learning disability, substance misuse, alcohol misuse, homelessness, poor educational achievement and unemployment.

The financial costs to society for drug related crime is considerable.  On average a typical addict spends around £1,400 per month on drugs.(1)  Any drug addict not in treatment costs society on average £26,074 a year. (1)  There is evidence that investing in prevention and treatment is cost effective.  For every £1 spent on drug treatment, there is a saving of £2.50 to society.(2)

Offending behaviour is damaging not only for offenders and their victims but also for their families and the wider community. It is closely linked with deprivation, drug and alcohol misuse, mental health, loss of accommodation and employment as well as affecting outcomes for families and children. Improving the health of offenders reduces the chance of their re-offending, which in turn reduces the future impact on both victims and the families of offenders.(3,4)

Children who have experienced the incarceration of a parent are more likely to become involved in offending themselves and experience more mental health problems.

Following the National Transforming Rehabilitation Programme, the way offenders are managed in the community has changed. Since the 1st June 2014, Probation Trusts have been replaced by the National Probation Service (NPS), which manages the most high-risk offenders and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), who manage medium and low-risk offenders. Kirklees CRC works with people sentenced to Community Orders and Suspended Sentence Orders to reduce the likelihood of further offending.

What significant factors are affecting this issue?

There are nine key factors that can influence re-offending (5,6):

  • Accommodation.
  • Education and employment.
  • Finance.
  • Relationships.
  • Lifestyle.
  • Drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Mental and physical health.
  • Thinking and behaviour.
  • Attitudes.

Unless these factors are addressed, the risk is high of re-offending soon after release. The Ministry of Justice estimates 47% of released prisoners re-offend.  For those serving sentences of less than 12 months, this figure increases to 57%.(7) Community sentences are more effective, with re-offending rates of 37%.

Local data shows that offenders in Kirklees, not just those in prison, experience the following (8):

  • Relationship Issues             65%
  • Drug misuse                         30%
  • Alcohol misuse                     37%
  • Accommodation                  41%
  • Poor employability              49%

Nationally, the risk of death for men recently released from prison was 8 times higher than the general population, with suicide a major factor. Women were 36 times more likely to take their own life.(5)

Which groups are most affected by this issue?

Young Offenders

Young people under 18 who offend have complex health and support needs, and the needs of this group are particularly apparent for those who receive a community order.(9) These needs include mental health, substance misuse, learning disability and serious difficulties with literacy. While the numbers of young people involved with the YOT are declining, there is evidence that these young people have a greater complexity of needs. Almost 40% of the YOT population have identified learning difficulties/disability and 70% of the YOT caseload have additional health needs, including detailed therapeutic work and sexual, mental and physical health.  Around 30% of the YOT caseload are working with substance misuse specialists.  Cannabis continues to be the most frequent substance used while use of Non Psychoactive Substances (previously ‘legal highs’) has stabilised following a period of rapid growth.

Women offenders

Women offenders make up approximately 1 in 10 of the statutory caseload in Kirklees. In addition to the problems already outlined, over half of women offenders said they have suffered domestic abuse and one third said they have experienced sexual abuse. Women Centre Kirklees works with some of our most vulnerable female offenders, with 2 in 3 (68%) having experience of domestic abuse and over half (55%) presenting with mental health issues.(10)


Over 200,000 children in England and Wales experience the imprisonment of a parent each year.(11) Prisoners’ families often experience increased financial, housing, emotional and health problems during a sentence.(11) Nearly 30% of children with a parent in prison experience mental health problems, compared with 10% of the general population. Children of prisoners are also more likely to take part in anti-social behaviour and have a greater risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).(11)

Where is this causing greatest concern?

Offending behaviour is an issue across Kirklees. Offenders as a group tend to live in the postal districts of greater deprivation, namely Huddersfield North, South, Dewsbury and Batley3

What are the assets around this issue?

The new Drug and Alcohol service has put specific emphasis on developing an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. This approach encourages service users to see themselves and the community as an asset and utilise these assets to support their recovery journey. The service uses recovered service users as community assets to promote a prevention-based approach for future communities to reduce drug and alcohol abuse and to reduce offending and re-offending linked to substance misuse.

There has also been an emphasis around the use of ABCD as a way of engaging young people who are not in education employment or training (NEET) and excluded from education.

Kirklees Council has commissioned Employability Solutions, a local social enterprise company.  They have demonstrated how, using ABCD, young people have been diverted away from crime and anti-social behaviour, re-engaged in education and made positive contributions to their communities.  This approach uses grass roots community engagement to build activities around the young people deemed “challenging” within any ward.

Views of local people

Local perceptions around community safety and cohesion provide us with insights into how safe communities feel.  Alongside our work to monitor and improve health outcomes for offenders, our work to monitor and manage community tensions and fear of crime is crucial in understanding what is happening in communities and how people are feeling.  It helps us to understand what we can do to prevent breakdowns in relationships, maintain harmony between communities and enable people to be safe and feel safe.

The majority of people in Kirklees (81%) feel that anti-social behaviour in their area has stayed the same over the last 12 months, with 11% of people feeling that it has increased and 8% feeling that anti-social behaviour has decreased.  Further details of the public perception of crime can be found here.(12)

Overall in Kirklees, the majority of adults (88%) said that they felt safe in their local area during the day and 65% after dark.(3) People living in the Kirklees Rural area felt significantly safer after dark than those living in the other district committees and feeling of safety were lowest within Dewsbury and Mirfield. Feelings of safety were higher in females during the day and in males after dark.(12)

Please see the community cohesion section for more information.

Local qualitative research findings revealed that young offenders felt that they suffered more than any other group from issues surrounding unemployment. They felt that being unable to find work increased the risk of them re-offending.(13)

“Yeah it is right to find a job, but when you go to so many job interviews and everyone turns you down, it just doesn’t give you much motivation”.

Young offenders were also aware that health related behaviour, particularly drinking and smoking cigarettes and cannabis, were issues for themselves and other young people.  They felt that the majority of young adults in Kirklees were unhealthy:

“Yeah but these young kids take drugs and smoke. They drink and how many old people do that or get out and about and stuff, they don’t, do you know what I mean, yeah?”

What could commissioners and service planners consider?

  • Integrated working by key partners can improve outcomes for offenders, their children and the wider community, ensuring services are commissioned for outcomes on an intelligence led basis.
  • For young people, commissioners should consider the value of comprehensive and holistic approaches which address community engagement, education and youth work.
  • Ensure that support for offenders includes:
  • Access to mental health, substance misuse, learning disability and social care services.
  • Access to accommodation, education and employment services.
  • Gender-responsive provision for women and support for families.
  • Health based support for young offenders
  • Restorative Justice. This evidence-based approach encourages offenders to take responsibility for their harmful behaviour in a meaningful way, to gain insight into the causes and effects of that behaviour on others and to make a positive change.
  • Develop additional support for preventative activities which do not require a court order.
  • Ensure that effective links are in place between services focussed on adults and young people.  This will help to manage the risk through the offender journey.
  • Consider an increase in face-to-face support for victims and wider access to services for children affected by crime. This would help to reduce the longer-term impacts on victims and their families.
  • Make good use of local evidence and insight to ensure that services/ interventions are intelligence-led and build on local assets/strengths that are already contributing to the prevention of offending and positive outcomes for offenders.
  • Focus on preventing offending and ensuring that people are rehabilitated at the earliest opportunity.
  • Support community resilience to help develop positive communities who are able to do more for themselves and each other.

The scope of work will continue to evolve as the result of continued financial challenges and also as a result emerging priorities such as child sexual exploitation, forced marriage and human trafficking which cuts across the community safety and safeguarding arena.


    1. National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. Estimating the Crime Reduction Benefits of Drug Treatment and Recovery. 2012.
    2. Jones A, Donmall M, Millar T, Moody A, Weston S, Anderson T, et al. The Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study (DTORS) Outcome Report. 2009.
    3. Department of Health. The Bradley Report: Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system. Department of Health. 2009.
    4. Department of Health. Improving Health , Supporting Justice. 2009.
    5. Prison Reform Trust. Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile June 2012. 2012.
    6. Social Exclusion Unit. Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners. Crim Justice Matters. 2002;50:33–4.
    7. Ministry of Justice. Proven Re-offending Statistics Quarterly Bulletin October 2010 to September 2011 , England and Wales Ministry of Justice Statistics Bulletin. 2013.
    8. West Yorkshire Probation Trust. Kirklees OASys Data June 2016. 2016.
    9. Jacobson J, Talbot J. Vulnerable Defendants in the Criminal Courts : a review of provision for adults and children. 2009.
    10. Women’s Centre Kirklees. Service user data. 2009.
    11. Action for Prisoners’ Families. Facts and Figures September 2012. 2012.
    12. West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. Public Perception Survey. 2015.
    13. NHS Kirklees; Kirklees Council. CLiK Qualitative Research 18-24 year olds. 2011.

Date this section was last reviewed