Dr Coral Sirdifield and Dr Rebecca Marples from CaHRU are continuing to engage with parliament and raise awareness of the research that they are doing around healthcare for people on probation. Earlier this month they met with Dr Phillip Lee, MP for Bracknell and former Minister for Youth Justice, Victims, Female Offenders and Offender Health. Coral and Rebecca discussed their current work on their Improving Healthcare Commissioning for Probation: Mapping the Landscape project, and Dr Lee agreed to be part of the external advisory group for this project.
Coral and Rebecca have also recently contributed to the Ministry of Justice Consultation on the proposed changes to the structure and content of probation services Strengthening Probation, building confidence. Here they have highlighted the importance of focusing on the health of offenders to reduce health inequalities in society, meet public health targets, reduce reoffending, and save money that is currently wasted on avoidable use of crisis services and the costs associated with reoffending. Here and in their research, Coral’s team are providing an evidence base and offering practical solutions to some of the problems around improving offenders’ health and access to healthcare.
Dr Coral Sirdifield and Dr Rebecca Marples were invited to give a presentation on offender health at the Probation Institute Trainees’ Conference held at De Montfort University, Leicester in May 2018.
In their presentation to Trainee Probation Officers called “Offender Health: Why Should We Care?” they discussed:
• Preliminary findings from their systematic review on research on healthcare provision for offenders on probation
• Key issues in relation to offenders’ health needs and access to healthcare
• Organisations’ roles and responsibilities in relation to providing or commissioning healthcare for offenders
• The role of probation in offender health
• The benefits of focusing on offender health for offenders, probation and the wider society
• Some principles for improving offenders’ health and engagement with health and social care services
Dr Coral Sirdifield and Dr Rebecca Marples from CaHRU were invited to meet with Sam Giymah MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Duty Minister in November 2017. Coral and Rebecca discussed their current work on their Improving Healthcare Commissioning for Probation: Mapping the Landscape project, and how it fits with work that will shortly be undertaken by the department.
Together with Professor Charlie Brooker (Royal Holloway, University of London), Coral and Rebecca have also contributed to a consultation on standards and ratings for inspecting probation services.
They also attended training (along with Dr Stephanie Armstrong, CaHRU) on working with parliament hosted by De Montfort University. Here they learnt about contributing to Select Committee enquiries, and ‘POST notes’ produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. This was particularly useful in terms of identifying plans for a future POST note focusing on Sleep – an area that CaHRU has done a lot of research in.
Dr Coral Sirdifield, Research Fellow in CaHRU was asked to speak at a Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the 7th of November 2017.
The event was attended by people from a variety of organisations including the voluntary sector, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, the House of Lords, the Ministry of Justice, and Community Rehabilitation Companies. It focused on the future of the Transforming Rehabilitation framework and priorities for Through the Gate resettlement. It included sessions on operational challenges for the probation framework, and whether probation services can deliver what we all want and expect.
The afternoon session, chaired by Lord German, focused on the future of Through the Gate resettlement – next steps for housing, healthcare and new partnerships.
Dr Sirdifield was the speaker for the healthcare section, and presented on how we can improve communication and referral processes between probation and health organisations. Her presentation focused on three main themes:
- Clarifying organisations’ responsibilities:
- Many CCGs are unaware of their responsibilities in relation to offender health,
- Offenders’ health needs are not always considered in Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, and
- Health can sometimes be seen as a ‘tick box’ exercise to CRCs
- Dr Sirdifield called for the government to produce an overarching offender health strategy, part of which would remind organisations of their responsibilities in relation to offender health. She suggested that outcomes could be tracked through probation inspections as part of their developing standards
- Improving service provision and access – here she made suggestions about how health agencies can work more proactively with probation, and new ways of working can be trialled
- Improving formal and informal communication between organisations – suggestions including co-locating criminal justice and health staff, and giving probation a voice on healthcare commissioning groups