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Essex Probation

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Case Study: Released on Licence after armed robbery

In and out of prison all his life for a range of serious offences, Brad was due out on licence after a 7-year term for Armed Robbery. A Class ‘A’ drugs user, a fragile personality from a broken family with a violent father, his hostility in the prison had him kicking against the system with dirty protests. After a prison interview, his Offender Manager assessed his risk of reoffending, and of harm, as High.

Changing expectations

Dejected and demotivated, and not allowed back to live with his partner and children, he expected to return to prison as a matter of course. With this attitude, and drugs/alcohol as key risk elements, his OM set out to make him work, and face his future without resorting to the usual props afforded by drugs and drink.

The initial elements of supervision:

• Piling in the positives, “You can make it this time”. He was doubtful.
• Using tools well known in the Probation world, including:

o Work on the Cycle of Change
o Pros and Cons work
o Trouble Shooting work, particularly with negotiations over contact with his children, and…
o Motivation, Motivation, Motivation
o Counselling with a drugs agency
o Mentoring provided by a second agency, which gave him a Key Worker
o Regular drug testing. Clean.
o GP – medication
o The OM considered Training and Employment work – this would come later.

Support needed

Brad hated unburdening himself to others: previously he would go straight to his drug supplier when in difficulty. His OM reminded him constantly of the need to pack a lot of people around him: “Think of yourself as a fragile ball rattling around in a box, getting damaged as it bangs against the sides, but if you pack it with support, it’s safer.” He tried to take this advice.

Crisis nearly causes relapse

His worst crisis: his reaction to his mother’s cancer scare, setting off for a London drug dealer’s house. Knowing as soon as he walked in that he should get out quickly, he went straight back home and phoned his OM. He cried in front of her, apologising later for ‘unmanliness’. With her help, however, he was growing in self-belief and getting more confident in opening up.

Outcomes 15 months later:

• He sees his family daily. His OM said she would support his return to the household when he feels ready
• Increasing confidence in his abilities
• Drugs: clean
• No offences
• Licence ends this year
• The Drugs Agency is offering him the chance of mentoring for them
• His OM is considering mentoring training with Essex Probation’s new scheme
• Serious job search: currently Warehouse work

“My OM is great,” says Brad, “with loads of time for you, she goes the extra mile, and makes you want to get things right. I’m proud.”