Gwent Diversion Scheme for Women
The IOM Cymru Women's Pathfinder 'Diversion Scheme' began to be implemented at the custody suite in Newport Central Police station last week (Thursday October 1st). The 'Diversion Scheme' does what it says on the tin and seeks to divert lower risk women away from the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and into voluntary community interventions and support.
Under the scheme, women with complex needs, often victims themselves, will receive the support they need to help them address any underlying issues, avoid future contact with the Police and build positive relationships with their families and wider communities.
Following a successful pilot project which began in Cardiff in 2014, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, in collaboration with the three other Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in Wales, secured nearly £235,000 from the Home Office to develop four additional pilot sites throughout Wales - one in each Police Force area. The custody suite at Newport Central Police Station was selected for Gwent.
Currently in Gwent, the intervention and support provided to women in the community is delivered on an individualised case by case basis and is dependent on the needs of the woman and the resources local community agencies have at their disposal.
However, from tomorrow, all women who are arrested and brought into the Newport Custody Suite will be in scope for consideration for the Diversion Scheme and will undergo a rapid eligibility assessment. If deemed suitable, Diversion Scheme staff located within the custody suite will be responsible for undertaking the assessment on each eligible woman referred.
Following the assessment, Diversion staff will make a proposal for the most appropriate intervention. They may include housing support, debt advice, access to mental health services, domestic abuse support and substance misuse interventions. However, the Custody Sergeant has the final authority to agree to the Diversion Scheme at their disposal.
The Diversion scheme in Gwent is delivered in partnership with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Gwent Police, Newport Women's Aid, local partners and women's centred services in the delivery of specialist support and intervention.
Highlighting the importance of the project, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "Female offenders often have multiple problems which contribute to their offending which cannot be addressed by a single agency. This new scheme will ensure that women who come into contact with the criminal justice system will have the co-ordinated support they need to help them stay on the straight and narrow. I'm really excited about the prospect of this pilot project. If successful, it's something that can potentially be rolled out to other parts of Gwent and Wales. This project has the potential to reduce demand on all four Police Forces in Wales by reducing repeat offending amongst women."