Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association

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CPHVA Response to the Consultation Document - Reducing Re-Offending Prisoners
 

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association is an autonomous section of the MSF Trade Union with 18,000 members. It is the third largest professional nursing union and is the only union which has public health at its heart.

The CPHVA supports any initiative that will improve the life chances of ex-prisoners by making positive changes to their existing circumstances

Past experience shows that initiatives have worked which have supported prisoners and reduced the occurrence of re-offending. These initiatives should be used, not necessarily as a template to adopt in all prisons but after examination of the processes or other elements that have contributed to their success and these principles should then be used in each setting to develop a support system.

1. A Strategic Approach

As much should be known about the prisoner and their home environment as possible. Whenever possible, preparation should be provided. This may be visits out, practical activities such as shopping; budgeting or employment opportunities.

2. Education and Training

The need to assess prisoners’ skill levels in order to offer training and development to equip them better for release is an obvious one. However,

this should be done sensitively and potentially a development plan that will show some early achievements to increase confidence is preferable.

In the instances where the prisoners have families especially with young children, parenting skills courses should be made available. Prior to discharge, some input should be given regarding the parenting role and reintroduction back into the family environment.

3.Employment

There should be more promotion of a successful employment situation – and targeting of potential employers. If some work in this area (job counselling and preparation) takes place that can inform training and development needs, prisoners’ chances of employment may be improved.

4. Health, including Mental Health Problems, and Drug and Alcohol Misuse

There is a need for some real preventative and public health aspects to be addressed as well as treatment. Sexual and reproductive health components including HIV/AIDS should be included in any such program. The opportunities for education regarding these aspects should be explored especially where there are young families involved. Some successful work has been done with fathers and parenting. Similar schemes may be implemented. A senior nurse consultant named for prison populations with a remit to address public health role of prison nurses should be considered. Work in this area may be addressed as a "Healthy Prisons" programme.

5. Housing

Work across agencies should be optimised so that, whenever possible, the stability of the family is maintained. When released, whenever possible, support should be given to secure housing and hostels as an interim step back to full independent living. There should be support visits available sometime after release to ensure adjustment is working.

6. Impact on, and Role of, Communities

The community should have a role on reintegrating ex-prisoners that could be done in a variety of ways. This may involve a limited community ie; neighbours or the whole community, from informal support to opportunities for prisoners to meet and participate in support groups.

7. Prisoners’ Families

A contact person to perform a liaison function between the institution and the family should be offered. During incarceration and for a period after release.

8. Groups at Risk

The CPHVA believes that when dealing with groups at risk, consideration should be given concerning their different needs because of their different cultural backgrounds. This again means that it is very important to carry out an accurate and in-depth assessment upon entry to the system.

9. Training and Skills of Professionals

Supervision, support, training and development should be provided regularly and routinely and should be according to identified need.

10. Children Remanded into Care

The issues that we would like to see considered are issues relating to the Children Act ie; child in need and child at risk. The CPHVA would like to see steps taken to reduce the marginalisation of the children in question and also positive input should be provided eg; foster carer, activity program


Professional Officer/Professional Support
Health Visiting Policy

01 February 2001

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