The Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, in partnership with Probation Service, has launched a new intervention aimed at making communities safer by breaking the cycle of offending in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.

A community alternative to short prison sentences is a new and innovative intervention to divert individuals causing the most disruption in communities by addressing the root cause of their offending behaviour.

Reducing re-offending is a key priority of the Violence Reduction Unit and research has found that short prison sentences of 6 months or less can often lead to higher re-offending rates.

This is due to the disruption from positive factors and influences such as family relationships, housing, employment and access to healthcare and support, meaning individuals return to crime, which has a huge impact on communities.

This exciting project, coordinated by the Violence Reduction and Local Criminal Justice Board, is initially available to Newcastle and South Tyneside Magistrates’ Courts.

Those who are eligible for this intervention will be determined by the local courts in conjunction with the North East Probation Service. Any crimes involving domestic abuse and sex offences will not be considered.

This diversionary route will see probation staff working intensively with individuals to provide practical and mentoring support. They will also ensure engagement with community based services to address issues that trigger their offending.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness said: “The North East is a wonderful place and it is imperative that we do everything we can to make sure our communities remain a safe place to live. That’s why, along with the Violence Reduction Unit and Local Criminal Justice Board, we are working with offenders who repeatedly bring disruption to our communities, in order to tackle the underlying causes of their offending. This intervention will bring vital benefits to our communities by understanding and changing those individuals offending behaviour to prevent crime”.

Bronwen Elphick, Regional Director for Probation Services in the North East said: “I am really excited to be supporting such an initiative in our region. A Community Alternative to Short Prison Sentences gives us and our key partners, a real opportunity to try and intensively address re-offending outside of the prison walls, and ensure a level of continuity for individuals in an attempt to enable them to change their behaviour”.