Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Promoting ‘Change’ in Offending Behaviour

It is very easy to be sceptical about any form of new initiative, especially if we have heard similar rhetoric before. ‘Change’ is a challenging process, not only for those trapped in the cycle of crime and depravation, but also for society and those responsible for implementing such change. All that said, the fact remains, if we keep doing the same things we must expect to get the same outcomes.

As the fourth richest country in the world, our current re-offending rates are shameful, costing billions of pounds and wasted lives. The situation is also generating increasing fear and undermining the very fabric of our society. We simply have to do things differently and start to recognise that punishment and retribution alone do not work. The solution is not difficult to realise and implement. Our behaviours are a reflection of our circumstances, upbringing, education and beliefs. Unless these change, behaviour patterns will remain the same.

Simply increasing the profile of community punishment working parties or custodial sentences will not address these innate needs. Prison and public humiliation are simply not conducive to such a process. Indeed, they perpetuate a feeling of failure, incompetence and worthlessness. Rather, there is now an urgent need to invest in programmes that enable positive personal development, learning and behavioural change. Real investment in meeting offender's needs will ultimately deliver massive financial and positive social returns. It is a process that requires focussed and joined up partnership, where responsibilities, risks and rewards are shared throughout society. For this to happen we have to view the situation differently and make a 'step change' outside our normal comfort zones, recognising that punishment more generally fails to meet the requirement.

If we all step back and ask what have been the most important drivers in our own lives, I suggest that whilst punishment and reprimand may have provided a temporary break, 'success and reward' have been the real accelerators.

Trevor Philpott


why close down the only thing that worked. said...

I am one of the fortunate ex-offenders who attended the Life Change programme that was run by C-FAR in Devon. It is thanks to that course and my experiences on it that gave me the confidence and belief to make a life for myself. Although I knew that prison was my punishment for my offences, except for making me realise that I did not want to return there, it did not give me the tools and support that I needed to change.

Most offenders do not believe in themselves, have no confidence and are afraid of life. Rehabilitation needs intensive learning and ongoing support by people who believe in you and your ability to change.  Prison and punishment only makes you believe you can't and are not worthy for society to invest in to help you get a better future. After leaving prison it is highly unlikely that you will be able to find a job because of your past, hence you resort back to crime, it is not a fact that all criminals are bad people in-fact most would embrace life change.  With the support we had at C-FAR we began to believe in ourselves and we took the first major step forward towards a new life.  I did it and you can too.

This blog and the Life Change UK web site describe how this could be achieved. I only wish that the government would understand and stop relying on punishment as the method of dealing with offenders.

My story is published on the Feedback page of www.lifechangeuk.com .

Craig Reece – ex-offender

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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Trevor Philpott OBE said...

Thank you Marry. Your kind comments are appreciated.