Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
Daniel Mitchell, Brett Hawksley, Angela, Daniel Coriat
and Tina Braithwaite
12 October 2010
Q1 Chair: Good
morning, and welcome Mr Hawksley, Mr Coriat, Ms Prince, Mr Mitchell
and Ms Braithwaite. We are really grateful to you for coming
along to help us with our work on the probation service, which
we see as having a very important place in future strategy to
deal with crime. You have all, in different ways, had some experience
of it so we are anxious to learn from you what you actually think
of it. Feel absolutely free to respond and to indicate if you
want to come in because somebody may say something you do not
even agree with and you want to give your own particular point
of view or they may miss something out which you think is important.
Different members of the Committee will put questions to you
on different subjects, but I would just like to start by seeing
if anyone would like to tell me, when they first walked into their
first appointment with a probation manager, what they thought
it was all supposed to be about and what it was like. Any offers?
I will go first.
Q2 Chair: Yes,
so what do you think?
Obviously, at first, for me, it was really daunting. You hear
lots of things about probation but for me myself, when I first
went into probation, I was told about my licence, about what it
was all about, what I would have to do, what would happen if I
didn't do it, and, for me, I thought that it was quite an information
overload. I thought there was too much information for me to take
on board and it took quite a while for me to understand totally
exactly what I had to do. So that was my experience.
Q3 Chair: What
did you think it was for? Did you see it as part of the punishment
or did you see it as something else?
As far as I understood, I was given a probation order for six
months so I could stay within the community. I would be assigned
a key worker, keep to appointments, and, instead of going to prison,
it was a way of being able to stay within the community, work
with my key worker on some of the issues that had brought me to
prison in the first place and go through with my probation officer
Q4 Chair: So had
you served a prison sentence?
No, I hadn't so this was the very next step. So, if you like,
I was lucky to have been given a probation order, if you likethat
is how I looked at itbefore actually going into prison.
Q5 Chair: Do you
think you have been treated lightly or that this was a last chance
I thought that if I was going to prison then I just didn't see
that as rehabilitation at all. I would just have seen that as
me going to prison and that would be it, whereas I thought, "Actually,
I'm being given a chance to do a probation order." No, I
don't see it as lucky, but as just more of a chance to deal with
the problems that I was going through rather than going into prison
and not dealing with them.
Q6 Anna Soubry:
Had you been on remand? Were you on remand before you got your
Mine was totally different because I actually had been to prison.
I got six years, but I did three years in prison so I was on probation
and still am on probation for another six months. So it was different
for me. I wasn't scared to go because my licence was just not
to leave the country, but I had to work with a probation officer.
Basically, I think that everything I basically did for myself
really. What they could do for me, I could do that for myself.
Q7 Chair: So if
you had not had the probation order, if you had not had that,
would you have changed your behaviour?
Yes, I would have done it myself because I think, as an individual,
it is for you to make that change. If you don't want to make
that change, that probation officer can't make you make that change,
whatever they say. It's up to you if you want to make that change.
If you don't want to change, if you want to keep reoffending,
that is what you are going to do.
Q8 Chair: But
aren't we, as the public and the public we represent, entitled
to know through the probation service that somebody is checking
whether you are making a change in your behaviour?
Well, from my experience, I don't really think they bother. Half
the time, it was just like they are just doing a job and they
are getting paid for it and that is how I saw it.
Q9 Claire Perry:
May I ask on that point, Ms Prince, was your appointment or were
your appointments about a processyou kind of ticked off
boxesor was somebody actually working with you to address
the specific issues that you were dealing with?
This is something we talked about yesterday. It's like, I didn't
see any papers they were ticking and basically that's all it was
about. Personally, I would have said it all myself. There was
nothing that made me think that they're helping me.
Q10 Claire Perry:
Would anyone else have a comment on that?
Yes, I would. I've had a couple of probation orders and I've had
ones from one end of the spectrum to the other. I've had one where
I've actually built up a rapport with somebody and they've actually
looked into my needs and actually built, you know, the probation
order around the needs of myself to help me get better and that
has actually got me to the stage where I'm at now. But I've also
been given appointments where I've gone in, "Hi, I've signed
in." "The key worker is ready to see you." You
go on into the room. "Hi, what have you been up to this week?",
"Oh, nothing much", "Okay, thanks, sign this bit
of paper, get your bus money back, and off you go." Done.
It is easier for the probation officer to do it that way and
it depends on the person on the order, what they are willing to
gain out of the probation. If that's easier for them then they
are going to be happy to do that as well.
Q11 Mrs Grant:
Can I just ask both. Prior to being ordered to do probation, did
you have any explanation of what it would entail, what the expectation
was on you and what it was all about, or were you standing there,
you were ordered to do probation and that was it, and at least
it wasn't prison?
All mine used to say was that I had to turn up once a week to
probation once I was released. Then, if you'd been good, then
I would turn up once a month, but my licence was just not to leave
the country and I feel that all that they wanted to see was me
Q12 Mrs Grant:
Did you know what probation was, though?
You generally hear from your solicitor what you are going to be
facing when you go into court. So they will say, "Okay,
well, the possibility is that you might have a sentence or you
might get probation so this will entail
" then you'll
be told what the probation is.
Q13 Mr Llwyd:
I think there is a theme developing here. Brett said that in
his first interview, it was an information overload, implying
that it was rather rushed. Daniel said it is ticking the boxes.
Could it be that the whole process is being rushed and you are
not spending enough time with the appropriate officer?
For me, yes, there was an essence of a hurried sort of procedure.
They did tick all the boxes for me but, at the same time, there
was an effort on the part of the probation officer to form a relationship
with me. So there was that side of it too, yes.
Q14 Mrs James:
Did you get the impression that they had many clients to see?
Q15 Mrs James:
And that on some occasions, it was a relief if they could deal
with somebody quickly and then they had more time to deal maybe
with a person with more severe problems?
Yeah, I felt that they were rushing to pass me on to someone else
or they were obviously concerned about their next appointment.
There was that essence to it, yeah.
Q16 Yasmin Qureshi:
Ms Prince, I was going to ask you, and obviously Mr Mitchell and
Mr Hawksley, if you can briefly tell us, how would you have liked
the probation service to deal with you and what do you think they
could have done that could have helped you?
I think if you are asking me what I think an ideal probation service
Yasmin Qureshi: Yes, why
They definitely need to look more intothe people who get
put on the orders have multiple needs. So there could be a number
of reasons which brought that person to be on the order, whether
it's drug offences or mental health. My experience is that the
probation officer isn't equipped to deal with all these different
needs. So in a more ideal world then they would be able to or
at least be able to signpost you and have more information and,
like the gentleman said there, maybe a bit more time to
spend with us and find out what is actually going on. So that's
my view on what would be a bit more ideal.
When you first get to go to probation, I think that one thing
I don't think they do is they don't read your file. So, when you
come to them, I know what's wrong with me. So they should automatically
know, well, what is it I need, because you get a file and you
read about that person. I don't think they read my file because
I used to be under mental health and everything and they didn't
know anything about thatnothing at all.
Q17 Yasmin Qureshi:
Were you on licence?
Yeah, for three years. I'm still there. I've got six months left
Q18 Anna Soubry:
I just wanted to establish where everybody is coming from in this
respect. Mr Mitchell hadn't been on remand, but you have had
two what I call DTTOs.
They were at that time, yeah. One was a DTTO and one was a six-month
Q19 Anna Soubry:
Right, but you have been on two separate orders; is that right?
I have, yes, in different areas as well.
Q20 Anna Soubry:
Yes, and from Angela's point of view, you had served a custodial
sentence and then were you released on licence?
Q21 Anna Soubry:
So yours was part of your supervision as a requirement of your
Q22 Anna Soubry: Which
arguably is different from when you stand up in court. You have
had your pre-sentence report so you have got an inclination of
what is coming. You have been released from prison; so it is
a follow-through service.
Yes, but they still do pre-sentencing reports and sentence planning
and things like that for when I come out, which is sent to my
probation officer. Nine times out of 10 they come and visit you
in prison before you are released, but even though they visit
you in prison, when you get back to see them in the office, it
is a whole new different experience. I just felt like, "Everything
I said to you while I was in prison, you can't remember."
Q23 Anna Soubry:
I just wanted to establish this because you are one of those people
who should have been seen properly and extensively in prison.
Are you saying you weren't or was it the fact that you didn't
have the same person and you didn't have the continuity of service?
No, I'm lucky because I've still got the same young lady I've
always had, butdon't get me wrong, she is a very nice ladyshe
more became like a friend, like she'd say, "Do you want to
come over for a cup of tea?" or, "Shall we go out this
weekend?" instead of, like, "As my probation officer,
I want you to help me." So, the way I decided to do things
was I just went and did things myself and came back and reported
what I did that week.
Q24 Anna Soubry:
And just with Brett, you've been on orders, but have you been
Yes, I've been on sentence and released. I think different to
Angela. I think that it's important to have a good rapport with
the probation officer and I think that your probation should start
not when you get released on your licence, but I think it should
start from the moment you get this prison sentence. I think there
should be contact from then until you are released and then on
Q25 Anna Soubry:
And how long was your sentence, just so we have an idea?
Q26 Anna Soubry:
So you got four. You served two years and then two years on licence.
That's right, yeah.
Q27 Anna Soubry:
Yeah, I did a two-year community order which I carried out in
an approved premises because I was homeless. The condition was
that I remained drug-free and there were curfews attached to the
order, but I had to carry the whole order out in an approved premises,
the bail hostel, because I was homeless. That was one reason,
but I think that they wanted to punish me in that way as well.
Chair: We have moved actually to the
point where I want to bring Mr Evans in.
Q28 Chris Evans:
This is a question for all four of you. How good is your relationship
with your present probation officer at the moment?
Mine is excellent.
Q29 Chris Evans:
It is excellent. Why is that, though?
Excellent for the reason being very flexible because there are
times when other things have come up that would benefit you in
rehabilitation, but some probation officers would be like, "You
can't do that because it is going to clash with the appointment."
So my probation officer is flexible and there is a good relationship.
There is no personality clash. So, I'm not, you know, dreading
to go and see my probation officer. So, in that respect, because
it is a good relationship, I will ask for things that I want,
whereas if there wasn't a good relationship there I'd be wanting
to ask somebody else, sort of thing, and that's not available
Q30 Chris Evans:
Can I call you Angela?
Q31 Chris Evans:
Angela, you said that you felt that your probation officer was
more like a friend. Why was that such a bad thing? I'm just
a bit confused what are you actually looking for? I've had stuff
with people saying, "I felt my probation officer was too
judgmental in many cases." Now, I would have thought that
the flip side of that was that they need to be a friend and there
needs to be some sort of relationship really. You made that sound
like it was a bad thing in some ways.
I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but I just look at it as, "You're
there to help me." It is like, "I'm a mentor. I'm a
voluntary worker. I'm there for you. I'm not there to really
be your friend, but I'm there to support you", and that is
what I wanted to feel from her. She's a very nice person, as
I said, but I wanted to feel that from her. As Brett said, she
is very flexible. I'm a mother of four children and I live so
far from my probation office. Sometimes it is difficult for me
because I have got to pull my little girl with me and then my
little girl will say, "Mummy, what's this place?", and
I don't really want to explain to her what this place is and things
like that. If I phone her and say, "Can I make it tomorrow?"
or something, she's very flexible like that because I've got kids.
I just find that I don't feel likehow can I explain it?
I think where the confusion is is that there needs to be a level
Yeah, that's it.
Because if you're actually looking for that rehabilitation, if
that person is going to be that lax and he can just walk in there,
it's like the order just tends to slip away. If you have a certain
level of authorityand obviously that is going to be different
for each personthen you might need that to finish your
Q32 Chris Evans:
Is it important to respect the person who is your probation officer?
Yes, it is.
And for them to respect you as well.
Q33 Mrs Grant:
Angela, can I just ask you, is she very young? Is it a personality
issue or is she just a kid that is sort of out of university?
Yes, she's young. She's half my age.
Mrs Grant: That is probably
a lot to do with it.
She is half my age, yeah.
Q34 Mrs Grant:
So about 22 or 23, or 19 or 15?
She is 24 and I am 45.
Anna Soubry: You see,
that is the wrong matching up, isn't it?
Chair: Order, order, Mr.
Evans has a question.
Q35 Chris Evans:
Daniel, I have been through the form. It says in the biography
that we have here that you have been through four different probation
officers. What has been the problem there if you don't mind me
Yeah, well, what happened was that I carried out the first part
of my community order in Manchester because that is where I was
sentenced and then I wanted to come back to London because I have
lived in London so they transferred me to London. I saw a probation
officer and I did form a relationship with him. For me, it was
the first time that I did probation, so it was important that
I formed a good relationship with him but, in many ways, I saw
him as a bit of a role model because I needed that. I mean, I
was pretty desperate. I had been homeless for so long and had
lots of trouble with the police so it was a relief for me to have
someone to kind of support me. So I looked up to him in that
way. You know, there were ups and downs and eventually I was
passed over to another probation officer and then two others after
that so, yeah, there was no consistency in it and I found that
was a bit negative towards me because I was putting a lot of effort
into rehabilitating myself. I was trying to find my feet again
and to have so many different probation officers who didn't really
understand my issues at the time was confusing.
Q36 Chris Evans:
If the chemistry is not there, how easy is it for you to change
your probation officer?
I think it is difficult. Personally, I didn't have the courage
to ask. If I wanted a new probation officer I wouldn't ask, but
I think it is quite a difficult procedure to change a probation
officer. I don't know.
Q37 Chris Evans:
Do you think that is an issuethat it should be easierif
it is just not working, to go and put your hand up and say that
it is not working?
Yes. I think people should have a right to say if they want a
different probation officer.
Can I just say something? I think it is different for different
probation officers, because one probation in Leicester will let
you change officer but the other one won't. Just touching on
the same thing, I can't believe how different every probation
is in England. I thought that they would all have the same guidelines
in every single probation, but they ain'tthey are all run
Q38 Chair: So
you have spotted significant differences in the different probation
services you have been under.
Q39 Chair: What
sort of things?
They are all doing completely different things. Like, in Leicester,
we are doing a lot of changes within the probation that are done
by the service users. There was a lot of peer-mentoring. You
know, we have done it so the probation office that we are at,
the service users have got it so we can change that officer if
there is a personality clash. It is not because you don't like
the person; it is just a personality clash. We have changed our
probation waiting area so that it is user-friendly for kids.
There is a TV in there with information. Other probation offices
won't do that. Other probation offices won't have flexibility
on your appointments and there are numerous other things as well.
Every probation office is just absolutely different and I thought
it was all the same.
Q40 Chris Evans:
Can I just end with asking each of you what is the best experience
of probation and what has been the worst?
For me, my best experience was going out for a coffee with my
first probation officer and the worst experience would be the
lack of consistencythe changing of probation officer.
My first good experience is the probation officer who I have got
now because she is flexible. I think the worst experience is the
toilets. You have got to share it. If you have got kids, the
kids use the same toilet, the men use the same toilet and we are
using the same toilet. The facilities are not there.
Q41 Chair: Is
that in a city office?
Q42 Anna Soubry:
Are you two both under the same probation service?
Q43 Anna Soubry:
But it is as simple as that?
Anna Soubry: Okay.
My best would be that I was actually managing to get myself into
some voluntary work and the probation office recognised this.
So they moved me from a weekly appointment to a fortnightly.
My worst is the court room being adjourned and me having five
minutes to tell my whole life story to a probation officer in
a room beside the court, for that to go in front of the judge
and then to sentence me on the five minutes I had been given with
the probation officer. So that is my worst experience.
For me, my best experience would be the peer mentor group that
was set up. That was because that was a chance for me to give
something back and help others in the same situation as myself.
Probably the worst experience was when I got what was called a
MAPPOM. I don't know if any of you have heard of that. It is
like a prolific offender sort of thing. The reason why that was
the worst experience for me was because, upon release, I was told
that I would have to go five times a weekMonday to Friday.
I asked if I could start a nine-to-five job and I was told that
I could not work for six months until I was deemed safe within
the community, and that was a real kick in the teeth.
Q44 Chair: Was
this not an attempt to demonstrate public safety in the decision
that was taken rather than doing the same thing by sending you
to prison, which would have been the other way of doing it?
But I had had my punishment inside. I had done my rehabilitation.
I had done my sentence planning. I had done the courses that
was asked of me. I was ready for society. I had been a role model
inmate and then I was released into something, you know, that
was even more punishment.
Q45 Mrs James:
Can you explain MAPPOM? Is that what we call in Wales POPthe
Prolific Offending Programme?
Yes, that's right.
Q46 Mrs James:
Do you want to explain what that is because maybe some of us on
the CommitteeI know what it ismay not know?
People who are prolific offenders, people who constantly are in
prison, get released, reoffend, go back in within short spaces
of time. People go on what is called a MAPPOM or-
Mrs James: POP.
POP, basically that is what it means.
Q47 Anna Soubry:
It is a prescriptive term, isn't it, and you can't appeal it either.
No, you can't.
Q48 Anna Soubry:
You are told. I am just looking at your age. Presumably, your
previous convictions started when you were quite young.
Q49 Anna Soubry:
So you have got a lot of previous convictions. I don't think
it is probably fair that you should say it, but I suspect that
a lot of them are quite minor. It looks like you have got a lot
of them and there is no discretion in that. That is right, isn't
Yes, that is right.
Mrs James: You have got
Anna Soubry: That's why
it is wrong.
Q50 Mrs James:
And you have daily telephone calls.
Yeah, it was really strict.
Q51 Mrs James:
And you have to be there when the police call.
It was too much. It was really difficult. For me, it felt like
they were setting me up to fail because I just looked at what
I had to do and I thought, "I can't do this", you know.
Q52 Chair:Is there
not a role for that kind of intensive measure in some cases?
You are simply saying that it was not appropriate to your circumstances.
Everybody I know that has been on that has not completed it.
I myself thought that it was too harsh and it was just too much
for me and because I could not work and I wanted to work, and
I was really struggling financially, I thought the best place
for me was back inside so I did something to make sure that I
Q53 Chair: You
actually did that.
Q54 Chair: So
you actually did something because you wanted to get back.
I did something to make sure that I went back, yes.
Q55 Claire Perry:
I wanted to pick up on what I think is an extremely important
point that you made, Mr. Hawksley, about work and the inability
to work. I would love to know whether witnesses are encouraged
to work during the period when they are under probation care and
what has been that experience. You were basically told that you
could not get a job and you were not allowed to apply for a job
until you had completed your six-month POP programme. Has that
been the experience of the other witnesses today? Are you working?
Are you encouraged to find work during this probation process?
Q56 Chair: You
were not working or you were not encouraged to work?
Neither. I was not working and I was notthat did not come
Q57 Claire Perry:
The rehabilitation did not include an attempt to get you into
No, I think there would be more things that needed to be addressed
Q58 Claire Perry:
Did you feel that you were ready to work? Could you have worked?
I think you could work if you wanted to, but I think it is a decision
that you make for yourself. I think that because I have a criminal
record now, I decided to do the mentoring and a lot of voluntary
work to get my education back up. The only thing is that, I think,
if you have been good, then while you have been on probation,
because the licence is differentI have got six months leftI
would have liked them to go back to court to say, "This person
did this, that, this. Can you put that six months on hold?",
or something so that now I can go out and look for a full-time
job, because I do not want to be explaining to my boss, "Oh,
I'm sorry, but I've got six months' probation left. I have got
to pop out just to sign the paper and come back." I don't
want to do that. So I have put that on hold and will keep doing
the voluntary work until after six months.
I wasn't encouraged to work at all. If I had said to them that
I would like to work, they would have found that rather ambiguous.
That is how I see it. I was encouraged to engage with the local
services like mental health, the drug team and people like that.
Q59 Yasmin Qureshi:
Can I just briefly ask about the procedure? Once you have been
found guilty or you have entered a guilty plea and the matter
is adjourned for a probation report or a community service report
to be prepared, sometimes, as you know, the courts have what is
called a stand-down report, which is done on the day, or the fast
delivery ones. I just wanted to ask firstly whether any of you
had been subject to what is called a stand-down report, which
is done on the day?
I have, yes.
Q60 Yasmin Qureshi:
Did you find that as something that was the right thing to do
or do you think that
I think you can tell by the way you are asking it is an unmanageable
thing to do on the day, to go in and, like I say, I was given
five minutes. That was my worst experienceto have the
sentence passed on what I spoke to the probation officer about
on the day.
Q61 Mr Buckland:
Daniel, that is a very important point that you make. Were the
options explained to you because it was a fast delivery report
that they were doing for you, which means that the judge had already
excluded custody as an option, hadn't he? Had that been explained
to you before you were interviewed because that is what it means?
Basically, when it is done quickly, the benefit in terms of your
point of view is that the court has already said, "We are
not going to send you to prison, but we need to look at another
option in terms of the community order or otherwise." That
is what it means. Was that explained to you?
Anna Soubry: That is why
you got it.
Q62 Mrs James:
I wanted to turn to offending behaviour programmes, because we
have taken evidence previously which said that it is very, very
difficult to get on the appropriate courses and appropriate programmes.
I am also coming across prisoners in my constituency who identify
a programme when they are in prison and then cannot get on it
and don't have that continuity then when they leave prison. Would
you like to tell me a little bit about your experiences of offending
Mine was done in prison and I found it very helpfulmost
of the programmes I went on anyway. I think the only downfall
of it is that, when you have such a long sentence and you have
done those programmes early in your sentence, when you leave prison
now, probably half of that has already gone out of your head.
They should be while you are on probation. I think they should
make like a little retouch programme which you can actually do
in probation so that you can remember half the stuff that was
taught to you. That is the only thing. Now I have come out of
prison, that is all left at the prison doors. I have not re-done
Q63 Mrs James:
Right, so there has been no continuity.
I totally agree, because the courses that I was put on at the
beginning of my four-year sentence were done right at the beginning
of the sentence and, like what Angela was saying, by the time
you get released, most of those key skill keys that you were taught
you kind of forget so I think that courses should be done upon
release and not while in custody. There should be some kind of
rehabilitation in custody but not these courses. They should
be done on release, I think, apart from obviously for offences
of angera course for violence. Obviously you should do
the anger management in there, you know.
Q64 Chair: Are
you saying that anger management courses should also not be until
No, I was just explaining that obviously if your crime is through
violence then you should do anger management in there, but, you
know, I think the majority of the courses should be done on release
or towards the end of the sentence.
Q65 Mrs James:
And what about the difficulties of getting on things like treatment
for drug and alcohol programmesthose particular ones?
I have never experienced a problem with getting on a course.
Q66 Mrs James:
Okay, anybody else?
I was given what was called a DTTO at the time. I breached the
order. I wasn't able to manage it. Six or seven months later,
I was speaking to probation again about maybe giving me another
chance to go for rehabilitation, but I was told that because I
had had my one chance, if you like, then that was it and I was
not eligible, if you like, to go away to do another order.
Q67 Mrs James:
So that in effect then delayed your progress in a way.
Definitely, yes, whereas I would see other people and they perhaps
may be given another chance to go ahead and do something else,
Mrs James: Daniel?
My experience is that, when I have engaged with drug teams, it
has taken three or four months before they have actually started
working with me properly so there is this perioda kind
of block of three or four monthswhen you start and then
it takes them four months before they actually start working with
you properly. I found that quite difficult to adjust to at the
Q68 Mrs James:
So it is questions of continuity that you are raising all the
Q69 Mrs James:
This is just a quick one because I know that other people want
to ask questions. CRB checksI assume you have all been
CRB-checked. How quickly did they come through?
Sorry, what is a CRB check?
Q70 Mrs James:
Criminal Records Bureau. You know, if you are going to do voluntary
work, as Angela has done, you would have then been CRB-checked
from the Criminal Records Bureau.
It depends though you can get short ones for CRB and then you
can get a full one. They know because you are mentoring. Obviously,
they knew what I did, but it was a short one because it was only
like this mentoring.
Q71 Mrs James:
So there were no recognisable delays.
No, they are up to a year. CRB checks can take for ever.
Q72 Mrs James:
So really you could have lost your opportunity in that time, couldn't
Mrs James: That is what
I am finding.
Q73 Claire Perry: May
I ask about the experiences? It sounds like, between the panel,
you have done quite a lot of rehabilitation courses. What happens
if you fall off a course? Is there any sanction? Who tries to
get you back on those courses or is it relatively easy to fall
off the rehab courses? As I think you mentioned, Mr Mitchell,
nothing happens until six months later.
I think we spoke about flexibility. It will be down to how you
are with your officer, how you have done and how you are doing
while you are on probation. It is out of your hands. So it is
down to them whether they feel that you able to have another chance.
"All right, so you didn't do too well that time, but you
seem to have made some progress so maybe we can try again",
or you could be in a position, "No, you've had your chance.
So custody is your next option."
I think it is different for what sentence you are on. If you are
on a sentence that is not parole, if you don't complete your course
then you will be asked to do it upon release through probation,
but if you are on a parole sentence and if you fall out halfway
through then you will have the CARATs worker and you will have
a personal officer assigned to you and between them they will
get you back on to the course, probably the next one or the one
after, but you would have to do it before you are released actually
Q74 Mrs Grant:
But can I just ask you this. You were saying that with your MAP
or POP, these two different descriptions, it was too hard and
it was so hard that you did something else to make sure that you
went back into prison. Why was it too hard?
Because they wanted me to go there Monday to Friday. I couldn't
work. I had the police officers coming round to me.
Q75 Claire Perry:
How many times Monday to Friday? Was it once a day or twice a
Once a day. On one day, it was twice a day. Amongst seeing them
every single day, there were courses that I had to do. I had to
see the police officers as well. There was, like, sometimes three
or four people in that day that I had to see and having the police
coming round to my own property, which in my area it is not good
for the police to be knocking on your door, you know. You get
a kind of bad name, sort of thing. It was just too difficult
for me to do and because where I came from, which was in prison,
I feel that prison is too easy.
Q76 Chair: Sorry,
you feel? I just missed it then.
Claire Perry: It is too
Too easy, yes.
Q77 Claire Perry:
So you felt that this was harder than prison.
I thought I was better off in prison because I had an easy time
there. So I thought I would be better there because then, if I
went back to prison, I could finish the rest of my sentence, come
out and I would have no supervision.
Q78 Chair: It
is a very interesting point that you make because in one of our
previous reports we have said that members of the public just
tend to assume that prison is the really tough thing from your
standpoint and that anything outside prison, non-custodial, that
is easy, that is just being let off, but what you have just said
is the opposite of that.
It depends on the individual. It is different for different people.
Some people have a really hard timewell, the majority
of people do have a hard timebut myself, I found it really
Q79 Mr Buckland:
It really goes back to Sir Alan's first fundamental point. We
tend to sub-divide sentences and we look at prison as a punishment
and then probation as we used to call it, community orders as
we now call it, as some alternative to a punishment. Would you
accept that punishment is actually an important element of a community
It definitely is. I would just like to say that I found myself
in society having to deal with multiple needs and I have been
and got myself arrested on purpose to go back to prison, whether
it is easier or whether it is harder. I had to make that decision
because I did not know, whether I was on an order, what services
to turn to. So I actually went out and got myself arrested because
it did not matter whether it was a little amount, you know, the
smallest amount. At least I know when I go into prison I am going
to get some kind of help, whether from the CARATs worker, officer,
Q80 Mr Buckland:
Mr Mitchell, what you are saying really is that what you wanted
on a community order was some element of challenge from your probation
officer, not to confront you all the time
No, I understand.
Q81 Mr Buckland:
But to say, "Look, you have got a problem. This is what
you need to do to try to challenge your problem and deal with
it. Let us face up to it. Let us not all be fluffy and have
a cup of tea. Let us actually talk brass tacks here." That
is part of the punishment, isn't it, getting you to own up to
the causes or the background to all of this and you then moving
on and dealing with it.
Yes. Involved with that as well would be the people who are there
to help you out. If you have a mental health issue then they can
signpost you there. That is what worked for me the last time.
They had these different areas set up so when they needed to signpost
me they knew where to signpost me. These guys were ready to pick
me up, ready to work with me, "Okay, you have got an accommodation
issue"; "Okay, you have got a mental health issue."
It is not just that you go out and offend. They look at all
of these and then the ball starts rolling. That is why, you know,
things are a lot better for me now because those different areas
were taken into consideration.
Q82 Anna Soubry:
Was that a different probation service? Was that a different area?
Anna Soubry: Than where
you had been before?
Q83 Anna Soubry:
Because why hadn't you had it before?
Yes, it was a different area.
Anna Soubry: I think that
is what I meant.
Yes, it was a different area, yes.
Q84 Anna Soubry:
So it was a different area with better services than the previous
area which you dealt with; is that fair?
Q85 Yasmin Qureshi:
I just want to ask Mr Mitchell and Mr Hawksley this. I think you
have both had the DTTO ordersthe drug treatment orders.
I have not had a DTTO.
Q86 Yasmin Qureshi:
Sorry, I have misread the information I have got. Mr Mitchell,
you had two of them. How useful were they in actually getting
rid of your drug addiction problem?
They didn't work. They didn't do anything for me.
Q87 Yasmin Qureshi:
They didn't do anything.
No. I was sent away to a detox centre and I was back within my
local area within a week. It was not suitable for myself for
how I needed to rehabilitate myself. The DTTO did not work. So
then when I was brought back to court, because obviously it was
a breach, I was given a community order where I would go to a
day group and attend that. That worked better for me, but the
first one failed because one size does not fit all, you know.
There are different things.
Q88 Mr Llwyd:
Could I go back to what Mr. Hawksley said earlier on about the
failure to complete the Prolific Offender Programme. When you
were on that five-day programme, what were you living on in terms
Q89 Mr Llwyd:
Did it entail travelling there and back?
Q90 Mr Llwyd:
What sort of financial pressure were you under at that time?
Huge financial pressure. I was, you know, barely struggling to
get by. That is the main reason why I wanted to work. I had set
myself up to work. I had gained a qualification while I was in
prison to come out and work and then I was told that I couldn't.
Q91 Mr Llwyd:
So, in other words, you were asked to do a five-day programme,
sometimes twice a day, and you were spending all your money on
just trying to comply with it and virtually nothing left.
Yeah, basically, yes.
Q92 Mr Llwyd:
There must have been a temptation to reoffend.
There was a temptation, yes.
Chair: It proved to be,
Q93 Mrs James:
I just want to go backbecause the public are listening
to this now because it is being televisedthis easy option.
I have worked in the prison service and I know it is not an easy
option. I wanted to ask you what did you mean by "easy option"?
Did you feel safer in prison? Did you feel that there was less
pressure on you? Did you feel that you would not be forced into
doing things their way and not your way? I am just interested
because I think that "easy" is a very difficult word
for the public to understand.
"Easy" in respect of I was institutionalised basically
so it was an easy option for me to go back, in the sense that
I was going somewhere that I was comfortable with, I was familiar
with, I would know a lot of people, I was getting fed, there wouldn't
be no money issues. So I thought that was a better option for
me. I didn't do something extreme to get a huge sentence. I did
something minor that would make me get recalled where I would
have to do the rest of my sentence and I did that. I think I had
to do something like an extra nine months or something, but I
was prepared to do that.
Q94 Mrs James:
Because you felt the pressure, that that was what was best for
you at that time?
Yes, I would rather do the extra nine months than do that order.
Q95 Anna Soubry:
But you had not really been properly prepared for being released,
I was told probably two months before release about what I was
going to be up against basically. So I knew what I was going
to do and I told them before I got released, "I don't think
I can do this", you know?
I think a big percentage of people who do get released aren't
ready to be released or don't have anything set up for them when
they are. So when the courts find them back in front of them
within the month and they ask themselves why, I think it is quite
Q96 Claire Perry:
I am just so struck by the glaring truth that surely if rehabilitation
starts in prison and it is joined up with what happens on your
It does not, no.
Q97 Claire Perry:
Exactly, and if it did, if you were basically, as you said, getting
qualifications, working on the drug problems, dealing with things
within prison, you are far, I would have thought, better prepared
for your release and the rehabilitation has started. Trying to
join that up so that people are looking after you all the way
through prison and on release is really something that we have
to get to grips with as a Government.
I was just going to say that I think it starts when you are in
prison because in prison they have favouritisms as well. Prison
officers have favourites of prisoners and they sometimes choose
who they want to help. I think that, when I was released, they
opened the gates: one plastic bag. I had just finished three years:
£93 in my hand and that was it. I had to find my own accommodation
and everything because they couldn't find me anywhere. I did this
two weeks before my release myself. As Mr Buckland was saying,
probation is too cosy. I am a headstrong person and for my age,
I should have somebody my age so that they can talk to me as an
adult; do you know what I mean? I don't need a young person talking
to me because I am a grown-up. I'm a mother with children. I
need somebody who is my age to say, "Well, Angela, we are
going to do this", or, "We are going to do that."
Put your foot down for me. I don't want a coffee. I want to sort
my life out.
Q98 Mr Buckland:
Which brings me neatly on, I think, to one of the fundamental
points we are looking at today, Ms Prince, and I am grateful to
you for your robust answer. In other walks of life, the involvement
of service users is now seen as key, for example, in mental health.
It is good to have Tina Braithwaite here, who has great knowledge
of this subject, and perhaps we can get on to this in a little
while. But when it comes to the criminal justice system, there
has been a reluctance to cross that frontier, to start involving
what we call service users, in other words offenders, in shaping
the services. I just wanted to ask you primarily, but everybody
really on the panel, would you see a particular use, in effect,
in some of the responsibility for shaping the programme being
given to you, as the offender, as part of your rehabilitationin
other words, not just allowing you to sit back and be told what
to do? It is to say, "Now, come on, Angela, what do you
want and how are we going to do this together?"
That is what I am basically trying to say. If you are like me,
I am telling you what I want. I am already telling you. I have
already decided. With three years in prison in your cell, you
have got time to think. You know what you want. So when I see
you I am going to try and explain to you, "This is what I
would like." Even though, sometimes it takes so long for
them to get back to you in what you asked them to do. It would
be quicker if I was outside doing it myself than wait for you
to do that or wait for the probation to do that for me. "I
have done it already so it is all right." "Oh, that's
really nice. Oh, you've done everything." "Yes."
Q99 Mrs Grant:
Is what you want and what you need the same thing truthfully?
That is the issue.
We are all part of a national service users' forum, okay. In
any organisationand we will talk about probationhaving
the service users' perspective is key. It has got to be. We are
seeing it from this side of the fence. Whether it is a meeting,
a board meeting, how the place is run, surely seeing it from our
point of view on the decisions that are made, it has got to have
some weight. On any decisions that are made, to know what we are
going through and what is happening, to hear it from the service
user's perspective also has a place.
Q100 Mrs Grant:
But is that what you need to fix your problem?
It has been the biggest part of my rehabilitation.
Sometimes the need could be something like, "I need to have
this to get that. It is not that I really want that, but I need
that. I want to have that. I don't really need that, but I just
have to have it because I am trying to get back into the community
or rehabilitate myself", do you know what I mean? I want
to have this now.
Q101 Mrs Grant:
Because it is really about ultimately getting your life back on
Back in order, yes.
Q102 Mrs Grant:
That is the thing that matters. That would help everybody. It
might not be necessarily what you need so there is a potential
conflict of interest there that we have to be mindful of.
Yeah, that's it.
Q103 Mr Buckland:
I agree with what Helen Grant said. In other words, it comes
to this. It is not just, "I want and therefore I will take."
Sometimes a probation officer may say, "Well, I'm sorry,
we don't think that is right for you"
Well, they haven't said that.
Mr Buckland: Which brings me to what you
were saying earlier. You would actually welcome, if you like,
that clash, that challenge, which sometimes you need. Let us take
Mr Mitchell, for example. I am not saying you did this, but you
may have said, "Well, I want to meet you less frequently"
and the probation officer says, "Well, actually, no, we think
we should meet more frequently", but then explaining why
rather than just saying it; explaining why to you so that you
gain a greater understanding.
And you can come to an agreement on what would work better for
Q104 Mr Buckland:
Yes. That is important and I am not decrying that, but it is part
of the process of punishment as well, isn't it? Would you agree
with me that that is an important element of this? Rehabilitation
of course, but the fact that you are subject to a particular regime
is part of the punishment as well, isn't it?
Part of that punishment is the rehabilitation as well.
Q105 Mr Buckland:
Absolutely. Perhaps we should look at it in a different way.
Perhaps we should look at it in terms of making our society a
better and safer placeprotecting the public. The aim of
it should be that when you finish your particular community service,
the risk of you reoffending is low, or lower than it was when
you went in. Would you think that that was a realistic objective
and a proper objective for any community order that you were on?
That is what an order is about, so when you finish it, you are
an abiding citizen and you can start giving back to society.
Mr Buckland: Exactly.
And then what you spoke about with the CRB checks, you can be
waiting a year before you can actually start giving back to society.
Q106 Mr Buckland:
Exactly, because, Mr Mitchell, it is not just about you, is it?
It is about the rest of us. You are a member of society and what
you do, or all of us do, has an impact on somebody else.
Of course, yes.
Q107 Mr Buckland:
So if somebody goes out and starts stealing, the impact on all
of us is huge, isn't it? So the punishment element is an important
thing because it is you understanding that there is a bigger society
here which deserves better.
So as well as there being the person on the order who is having
a say-so in what is happening, then you could have the victim's
side of things as well on how that order operates.
Mr Buckland: That's very interesting.
Q108 Chair: Does
anybody have any experiences of restorative justice and meeting
victims? Have any of you been through that?
I volunteered for the Witness Service about five, six, seven years
ago, so it was a part of my rehabilitation because I had just
done a short prison sentence and I was at college. I was volunteering
for Westminster Magistrates and I was meeting victims.
Q109 Chair: Victims
not of your crimes.
No, of other crimes and informing them about court procedure etc,
so, for me, that was a big part of my rehabilitation.
Q110 Chair: And
did it really help you to look at life differently?
Yes, it did, yes.
Q111 Mr Buckland:
In the Criminal Justice Act 2003, one of the requirements that
was laid out by statute was something called a mental health treatment
requirement. My experience of it is that it is hardly ever used.
I was wondering whether you have any view as to why that is and
what could be done to bring that, which could be a very useful
requirement, more into general use when dealing with offenders?
I think what often happens is that there is no recognition of
people's mental health issues, when they are arrested and right
through to going to court and into prison. I think there needs
to be a lot more in-house awareness among all the people that
associates are likely to meet so that, right from the start, the
police actually have much more mental health awareness so that
they can actually pick up on that there may be an issue and that
they then know what to do with it, who to refer to, how to get
support for people and how to get them diverted really. Then a
proper assessment and reports should be done so that mental health
orders and treatment orders can be considered.
I think for our Revolving Doors group of people,
they have often got common mental health problems rather than
serious mental health problems, so they are below the threshold
of attracting any secondary services. Quite often their mental
health issues go completely undetected so they don't get any help
at all right the way through. They certainly do not get any mental
health treatment orders.
Q112 Mr Buckland:
And that can lead to a failure of other requirements of the community
order, can't it?
That is right, yes.
Q113 Mrs Grant:
This is a question for Angela, if I may. Does the probation service
cater well for women? That is the $6 million question.
I think it just depends on who you have as your probation officer.
For the whole probation, I couldn't answer that question. I can
only answer the question from what I have. The building itself
could be a bit more different because there are no facilities
there. In probation offices, there are facilities there for kids,
but in ours there is nothing, so kids are just sitting there running
around. It is unhygienic as well, you know.
Q114 Mrs Grant:
So there is no crèche or anything.
The seats are dirty.
Q115 Mrs Grant:
No toys, nothing. People who have got alcohol problems come in
there and they are drunk themselves and falling over. Some of
them just come to sit down on the chair. People come in begging,
you know, all those sorts of things. There are no facilities to
change a child if you have got a small child, nothing like that.
There are no facilities for women themselves.
Q116 Mrs Grant:
And have you always had a female probation officer?
Yeah, I have always had a female one all the time, yes.
Q117 Mrs Grant:
Would you prefer a male probation officer?
Q118 Mrs Grant:
Because of the sort of person I am. To me, no disrespect to women,
but sometimes they are a bit soft, do you know what I mean? I
like somebody who is forceful.
Q119 Mrs Grant:
Yes, not any of us!
I like somebody who can say, like Mr Buckland is saying, when
Q120 Mrs Grant:
You like Mr. Buckland, do you?
Yes, because what he says is correct. If you are going to ask
me, "Would you like to do this?" and I went, "No",
I want you to say, "You are going to do that. That is what
I want you to do." Women won't say, or my probation officer
never said to me, "Well, Angela, you are going to have to
do that", you know. If I say, "No, I'm all right, I
don't need to do that", she will say, "All right then"
and that is it.
Q121 Mrs Grant:
I think you probably just need a strong woman, don't you? And
there are plenty of us.
Yes, all right then. There won't be a next time so you are all
Q122 Mrs Grant:
Good, that is what I wanted to here. Are there any specific BME
issues, would you say, to do with the whole process that we should
be aware of?
What is BME?
Q123 Mrs Grant:
Ethnic minority issue.
No, not really. I have never noticed any racism or anything like
that at all.
You have in prison, haven't you?
Oh, in prison.
Q124 Mrs Grant:
What has happened in prison?
People used to talk to me about racism in prisons, but now I
have really experienced it for myself from other officers. The
words we used to use were "Off the hook, sir." He would
say, "Yes" and then he would call me a black this or
a black that, you know, and then I would end up insulting him
and then that is itfinish. He doesn't report me and I
don't report him and that is how it was all the time.
Q125 Mrs Grant:
So there is a significant racism in prison.
Yes, definitely, definitely, yes. As Brett was saying, even if
I didn't have any children I would commit crime and go back to
prison because it was really easy. I think they need to make the
prison more harder to deter people from wanting to go to prison
because I have seen many younger people who have gone to prison
leave, and I say, "Give me a hug" as they are going
and they say, "Oh, no, I'm back by the weekend," and
I'm thinking, "What do you mean?" "Oh, I'll just
go and nick something and I'll be back" and they definitely
did come back, you know, things like that. So, if I have got
my Sky TV in my cell and I've bought my carpet and I've brought
my quilt and everything then why would I have to be outside?
Q126 Mrs Grant:
I know it is slightly off my question, but can I just ask, does
everybody here actually think prison is a soft option?
Can I just clarify that I think that is a better option if I am
homeless, if I have got no benefits. I will go to prison and
I have got seven months.
Q127 Mrs Grant:
Is it the same for everybody here?
Chair: It would not be
a soft option for me, but it would in the circumstances you were
Anna Soubry: It depends
on where you are coming from.
Mrs James: I have really
got problems with dealing with words like "soft option"
and "easy". Deprivation and de-liberty is your punishment.
It's easy in comparison to what I am going through while living
Q128 Mrs James:
I am not advocating this at all but I was in this position in
the prison service. You would take visitors around and then they
would say, "Is that it?" and you would say, "Yes,
you have seen everywhere" and they would say, "Yes,
but where do you punish them?" I think people think that
there are racks on the wall and we throw bread at you every so
often, and that is not what it is about. So I think sometimes
when you use words like "soft" and "easy",
the public think, "We've got to make it tougher for you."
How do you think we can make it tougher for you?
To meI am not going to use that word "soft touch"
any more because it is a habitit needs to be stronger.
It needs to deter young people or whatever age from going to prison.
If I can go to prison and buy my own digi box and my own games
Mrs James: From Argos.
I have that at home. If I can go to town on a Saturday morning
and if I come back by six because I have been good, I do that
every Saturday. Do you know what I mean? I am not saying make
it harsh where you are just going to have boiled rice and things
like that, but make it more punishable.
Mrs James: Unappetising.
Q129 Anna Soubry: You
have children, so when you were in custody, your punishment presumablyand
I know you will tell me if I am wrongwas the fact that
you couldn't give your children a hug before they go to sleep.
Yes, the only punishment I hadand I always tell people
thatwas being away from my children. That is why I said
if I didn't have any children, I don't see me with the life that
I have got. My life was always selling drugs. That's what I did.
Me not having any children, I would have probably continued selling
those drugs, do you know what I mean, whatever happened.
Q130 Mrs Grant:
Do you think if prison was more unpleasant, really unpleasant,
if it was really unpleasant, it would be more of a deterrent?
Yes, it would be, but don't get me wrong. It is unpleasant for
everybody as an individual.
Q131 Mrs Grant:
More, yes, but if you are a strong person like myself, I am not
scared of being bullied or things like thatthat never happened
to me. If someone younger was coming in now then they would be
scared because there are people there who can see you are vulnerable
so they are going to get bullied.
Q132 Chair: A
number of witnesses want to say something about this Daniel
and then Brett Hawksley.
Can I just say that from my experience, the majority of people
I have seen in prison have found it hard. It is only a few people
who find it, you know, quite an easygoing sort of thing. But
I have seen the hard end of a prison sentence and the easy end
of a prison sentence. The first time I went in prison, they did
not have TVs, and you was locked up 23 hours a day and it is not
like that now. You are constantly out your cell and when you
are in your cell you have got something to watch, something to
listen to. So I feel that giving them extra things has made prison
a lot easier to do.
Q133 Yasmin Qureshi:
I know people are suggesting that prisons are a soft option or
the conditions in prisons are quite relaxed and sort of genteel
and people don't feel as if they are being punished, but is that
because of certain types of prison, which are called open prisons,
where you have a lot more facilities? Most prisons that we have
are not those types of modern open prison. Most of them, like
in London, for example, where I have been a number of times, are
pretty unpleasant-looking places.
The old Victorian style of jails.
Yasmin Qureshi: Exactly,
and people in there don't look happy to be in prison. They may
commit crimes and come back and forth, but that is because they
have got other problems in their lives, so would it be right to
say that, yes, maybe there are some prisons that have all the
modern-state facilities? We have got to get this into perspective
that most prisons are not like those.
There are prisons that are easier than others. Obviously, if
you go into a Category A, it is more security. You have got less
movement in there and you have got less facilities in most of
the Cat A. I would say that the more low risk you are, the lower
the category it is. You know, you go from B to C. You know,
some Cs are semi-open prison and then obviously you get a D, which
is an open prison, so it depends on what category you are in.
Q134 Mr Llwyd:
I think I will follow Ms Prince's lead on this and I will ask
this question by banging on the table and shouting, if that's
going to help. That passes for humour in Wales. There was an
excellent piece of work in 2009 called the Bradley review which
recommended closer understanding between probation services and
the national health service in terms of provision of drugs, alcohol
treatment, mental health issues and so on. Do you feel that your
individual needs are recognised by probation services and, in
so doing, are the probation services able to help you to stop
I don't think so.
Q135 Mr Llwyd:
Why do you say that, Mr Mitchell?
Because I don't think the services are set up in the community
at the moment for them to be able to signpost people to help them
with those different needs. I think it is just starting to, but
I don't think it has always been there in the community for probation
for you to work alongside for you to rehabilitate yourself, whether
it is mental health or something else. I think drugs and things
like that, those kinds of orders, have been used more. It was
brought up earlier about the mental health side. Those sorts
of things, you know, they are not there in the community.
Q136 Mr Llwyd:
So the back-up that is referred to in the 2009 report, you think
is not therethe provision of mental health services readily
to hand, drug treatment and so on.
No, they are not there. When you are in prison, you know, excuse
the pun, you have a captive audience there so there you can go
to the meetings, but once you go to be released, there's no continuation.
There just aren't the funds, you know, for the services to be
there, or the numbers of people that are needed to access these
services are, so it's overthrown.
Q137 Mr Llwyd:
Are you saying that mental health provision in prison is adequate?
Not from what I have seen, no, and I think there's a lot of people
in prison who need to be elsewhere dealing with their mental health
needs, definitely not prison.
From what I've seen in prison, people with mental health issues
have been put on vulnerability wings and that's as far as the
help they get. That's it, from what I've seen.
I think that when it comes to mental health, there are so many
different forms of mental healthyou get low and then you
get high mental health. When I went to prisonI have always
suffered from clinical depression where I have always been on
medicationthe medication that I was taking, they refused
to give me, because the words were that they had got no budgeting.
There wasn't enough money for me to have that medication so they
said, "I tell you what, we are going to put you on this."
So I was on all different forms of antidepressants when I was
in prisondifferent strengths and different things. They
said, "Take that. See if that works. After three months
come back to me." Well, I know what I have always been on.
I know what works for me, but because of the finance, they couldn't
help me with that.
Q138 Chair: That
is puzzling because I thought that would come from the NHS budget.
I didn't get it.
I think different prisons have different rules for what medications
they can use.
Yes, and even when you move from prison to prison, even though
you take medication with you, they still change it again, you
know, and that is what really got me sometimes until, when I actually
came out of prison, my medication was sorted out proper.
Q139 Mrs Riordan:
Are you saying that you went three months without seeing anybody?
You said that you were given a drug for three months.
Yes, they give you a medication to take, and sometimes I would
say, "You know, this ain't working for me. I'm so tearful
and I don't feel right taking this medication." They would
still say, "Continue to take it and we will see what happens
afterwards" and then you could go back.
Q140 Mrs Riordan:
Could you go back in between?
No, when you go back to see them, they are already telling you
off: "Why are you here again?" or, "Go back to
work" or something like that. When I came out of prison,
that is when I got the medication back.
This is what you start to come up against when you are in prison,
when people start calling it an easy option. When you actually
start to look at how you live your life while you are in that
environment that is when things start to become not easy.
The reason why there is such a long period of time for them asking
you to come back is because they say that it takes a certain amount
of time for antidepressants to work, so that is why they say,
"Come back in three months' time" sort of thing.
Q141 Mr Llwyd:
On the issue of drug treatment and testing orders, we know they
are often criticised because people find them difficult to complete.
Mr Mitchell has already told us that today. Mr Hawksley, do you
have any experience of such orders and how did they work for you?
I have never had a drug order, but I've been in drug treatment.
The first experience I had was absolutely terrible because I had
a drug problem and I sought helpthis was quite a few years
agoand I was told that there was a six-month waiting list
for help. I told them, "Look, if I don't get this help urgently,
I'm going to commit crimes to fund my drug habit basically."
I was told there was no help, "You've got to join the waiting
list." So, after a certain period of time, I was doing a
prison sentence basically. The last experience that I've had within
drug treatment, when I needed the help, it was instantly there
and it was a good service.
Q142 Mr Llwyd:
When did that happen?
The last one?
Mr Llwyd: Yes.
Three years ago.
Q143 Mr Llwyd:
And it was instant assistance?
Q144 Mr Llwyd:
Why the change?
I'm not sure, to be honest with you.
Q145 Mr Llwyd:
Yes, same area.
Q146 Mr Buckland:
Was it a high intensity DRR? Did you have to go back to court
every month to see the judge?
It wasn't a court order or anything like that. It was just something
that I did off my own back.
I just want to say that I think it has been a bit of a postcode
lottery as to where you are actually going to complete your order.
I've spent some time down in the South-West and especially down
there, where it came to waiting lists, they would be definitely
a lot longer than what it would be as if you were in, say, where
I have completed another order, say, somewhere like Milton Keynes.
So, it does make a difference, I think, where you are going to
be doing your order.
Q147 Mr Llwyd:
Mr Coriat, according to the notes we have, at some point you had
a drug problem. Were you subject to any such orders at any stage?
I did not have a drug treatment order, but one of the conditions
of my order was to be drug-free so, yes, I was encouraged to engage
with the drug services although there was no strictness around
it. I had lapsed and relapsed during my probation and I was truthful
about that too and there was no, like, breach or anything from
that, but I was encouraged to engage, yes.
Q148 Chair: Mr
Coriat, you were in a probation hostel, I think, weren't you?
I was living in a bail hostel, yes.
Q149 Chair: What
was your experience of that and was it positive or negative?
It was a tough environment for me because I had been homeless,
sleeping rough, and then I went into prison and then I went to
the bail hostel. Obviously, one of the big issues was housing,
and it seemed as though my probation order was meant for me to
be carried out in the hostel as a punitive thing, as another part
of the punishment, but it was a very tough environment. You had
cameras everywhere. The people who usually are at bail hostels
have sometimes some very long sentences so there is a kind of
institutionalised feeling to it. Yes, it is not easy.
Q150 Chair: Would
you rather have carried out the requirements, but not in a hostel?
Yes, I would rather have done it in temporary housing.
Q151 Chair: Perhaps
that is not the right question. My question is would it have
been more or less successful if you had not been in a hostel?
I think the hostel gave me a certain amount of discipline, and
I was able to carry out the probation order more effectively maybe
because I was at the hostel. I think if I wasn't in that hostel
then the probation order would have been quite a soft optionan
easy optionbecause I would only have to go up to the office
once a week maybe for 10 or 20 minutes and that was it.
Q152 Mr Llwyd:
Were you assisted towards the end of the two-year period, to get
accommodation and so on?
Yes, I was, yes, a little bit. I had a floating housing support
worker who found me temporary accommodation in a Hestia house.
Now I am a service user and involved in various projects with
Hestia, which is part of my rehabilitation as well.
Chair: And a last queestion
from Anna Soubry?
Q153 Anna Soubry:
I just wanted to know whether other people had found that accommodation?
Did it play a part in how you coped with your various orders?
Was it a problem for you, in other words, or was it not an issue?
It was a problem for me because while being in prison, people
used to come and try and help me get a house, but I don't think
they did a good job with me at all, because when I went on one
of my home leaves, I actually went around knocking on hostel doors
and told them my story and if they could accommodate because I
have got three weeks left on my release.
It was good, because with two weeks left on my release,
one hostel, a women's hostel in Leicester, phoned the prison and
said that they would accept me. You know, that was good. It
was a mother-and-baby hostel, but I went there on my own and ended
up staying there for two years. I did not want my kids to stay
theremy two girls; the boys are big and they have got their
own propertiesI could not let them live there because it
was unhygienic, there were mice and things like that. It was,
like, even being there for two year was really difficult. Even
though I was free, I still felt like I was in prison. I only
got a house this year, January.
I have just got a house for me and my kids. We have
actually got back together this year, January, but it is not nice
at all. I don't know why I had to wait that long. It depends
what crime you have done as well. Because mine was drugs, the
council finds it really hard to get someone who has committed
a crime like that another property.
Q154 Anna Soubry:
And did you have to drive getting a home for you and your children?
I did it.
Q155 Anna Soubry:
Did you do that or did you do that through the probation?
You have a service. You have a service, a worker who works with
you, but they never worked with me. They did not do enough. They
did not do a lot. They were out doing their nails and things like
that. I could have done a better job. I was helping most of the
girls in that house. I was telling them where to go or what they
should do, things like that. It was horrible.
Accommodation is key. Everyone needs a place to do their stuff
It helps you, yes.
For me, that is what caused the rift between me and my probation
officer. It was the housing issue that caused a big rift between
Q156 Anna Soubry:
And Mr. Hawksley, what about you?
I have never had any problems.
Q157 Anna Soubry:
You have never had any problems?
Q158 Chair: I
would like to thank you very much indeed for giving us such a
frank and clear exposition of your own experience and the views
that you formed on the basis of your experience. It was very
helpful to us. Can I thank Tina Braithwaite and Revolving Doors.
The fact is that Tina was very quiet throughout the proceedings.
It was very hard for me. I'm not used to being quiet.
Chair: It is as we intended
because it was to give you the opportunity.
I would like to ask a questionit did come upto anyone
who would like to answer on what is the role of the service user
and what they think that plays within probation, which is what
we are talking about today. It is what role the service user
brings to probation.
Chair: I think we have
learned that from you, rather than the other way round. We will
certainly want to refer to it because, in due course, we will
publish a report on what we have learnt in the course of this
inquiry. I confidently expect that we might be having something
to say about the role of the service user.
Mrs James: Could we, on
behalf of all the Committee, wish you well in the future.
Thank you very much.
Mrs James: You have done
Chair: Yes, indeed. My
final words are good wishes for the role that you are going to
play in society in the future and thank you for your help this
morning. Can I just ask Members to remain behind for a short private
session? I will just call order so that our witnesses can leave.
Thank you very much.