National Probation Service – North East

The National Probation Service is a statutory criminal justice service that manages offenders under probation supervision who have been assessed as presenting a high risk of harm to others. Our priority is to protect the public by the effective rehabilitation of high risk offenders, by tackling the causes of offending and enabling offenders to turn their lives around. The NPS was set up on 1 June 2014, along with 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) that manage low and medium risk offenders. We work in partnership with the CRCs, with the courts, police and with private and voluntary sector partners in order to manage offenders safely and effectively. The NPS is split into a number of different geographical divisions. The NPS-North East has a responsibility for high risk offenders in the community from Lincolnshire up to Northumberland.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

Offenders in custody and in the community are at elevated risk of suicide. We are working with one of the high risk groups mentioned in point one of the NSPA declaration and the NPS are committed to exploring effective ways to reduce the risk of suicide by vulnerable offenders.  NPS NE staff have a key role in identifying, assessing and managing indicators of risk to self. If the offender is in the community this will include immediate crisis support as well as identifying collaboratively longer term sources of support. If the individual is in custody this will involve alerting the relevant custodial establishment of risk to self concerns in order that appropriate support can be offered to reduce the risk of self-inflicted death. We are therefore actively working to encourage those individuals to seek help when experiencing emotional distress. This also addresses point 2 on the NSPA declaration. Staff have an essential role to play in signposting offenders and victims to support organisations for those bereaved or affected by suicide. This links with point 4 of the NSPA declaration. NPS-NE will be providing a two day training on suicide prevention to staff which contributes to point 5 on the NSPA declaration. Point 6 is addressed through supporting research and local initiatives. Point 7 is addressed via the NPS NE suicide prevention forum and the NPS National Suicide Prevention Action Plan. This aims to reduce the number of potentially preventable self-inflicted deaths of offenders under supervision by the implementation of a series of objectives. The action plan is designed to increase awareness and understanding of the issue across the organisation, provide comprehensive support and guidance to staff working with this issue, and to promote effective monitoring and research in order to support new learning.

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What are your current priorities?

Maintain a Multi Disciplinary working group (NPS NE Suicide Prevention Forum) to develop and implement a Suicide Prevention Action Plan

The purpose of the suicide prevention forum is develop a strategic awareness, organisational overview and understanding of practice issues in relation to self-inflicted deaths completed whilst on supervision with NPS-London. The aim of the forum is to develop policy and guidance for NPS-London staff to minimise and reduce risks associated with suicide and intentional self-injury and to reduce the number of self-inflicted deaths under supervision. The forum also aims to develop guidance in relation to supporting staff affected by the deaths of offenders whilst under supervision. The forum meets a minimum of five occasions per annum.

Deliver Suicide and Intention Self Injury Awareness Training to NPS staff in the North EastBegin to deliver and regularly update specific two day suicide prevention training programme to disseminate new research findings, policy and practice guidance. The training is accessible to all NPS-NE staff; a training plan for delivery of this training is under development.

Establish effective systems for the dissemination of suicide prevention information using Information TechnologyOrganise and publicise relevant awareness campaigns e.g. World Suicide Prevention Day and Self-Injury Awareness Day. Make available to NPS-NE staff relevant information to support suicide prevention work.

Introduce and establish Approved Premises Suicide Prevention Champions in Approved Premises in NPS North EastApproved Premises offer residential provision to selected high risk offenders in order to provide enhanced levels of protection to the public and reduce the likelihood of further offending. The Approved Premises Suicide Prevention Champion (APSPC) role is considered pivotal in preventing self-inflicted deaths within Approved Premises (AP). It supports the implementation of actions and requirements outlined in the National Approved Premises Manual and will form a fundamental part of the NPS-NE Approved Premises Reducing Self-Inflicted Deaths Strategy-Action Plan (under development).

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What challenges are you currently facing?

The NPS was established on the 1st June 2014 and as such is a developing organisation. The move from being a localised trust to a national service has resulted in significant change and ongoing negotiation. This includes challenges in relation to information technology, training, staffing and developing new relationships with Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s) and ultimately post share sale with private providers. The move to a national service may mean less opportunity to locally implement relevant strategy action plans which are not centrally devised by the NPS.

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