The prestigious awards are presented annually by the Howard League for Penal Reform to people and organisations whose innovative work helps to make communities safer.
From a high-quality field of nominations, 40 entries from England, Wales and Northern Ireland were shortlisted for this year’s awards, giving them the chance to promote their work on the national stage, including a programme from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner. They tuned into a Howard League online celebration event this morning to hear the winners and commended entries being announced.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The Howard League Community Awards celebrate successful projects and pioneers who make our towns and cities safer by guiding people away from crime.
“This year’s awards are particularly important as they come at a time of great change, with parliamentarians currently scrutinising the biggest piece of sentencing legislation for two decades – proposals that will pile more pressure on prisons and do nothing to invest in community prevention or intervention.
“The success stories celebrated today are proof that we can change lives and reduce crime if we take the right path.”
Catryn Yousefi, Programmes Manager at the Howard League for Penal Reform, added: “The awards attract a flood of entries every year and, once again, it is striking to see so many schemes deserving of recognition and praise for their excellent work in the community.
“The range and diversity of the nominated programmes, each delivering services under such difficult circumstances during the pandemic, is remarkable.
“Every winner should be applauded for their best practice in encouraging desistance from crime.”
Sussex Police was the winner of the ‘Children in care and care leavers’ category for its Switch intervention programme. The project provides independent mentoring for young care leavers aged 17 to 25, who may be involved in violent crime, victims of exploitation or on the periphery of criminality and victimisation and at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
The ‘Policing and children’ category was won by the Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner for its REBOOT programme. The early intervention diversionary programme has supported almost 1,200 young people in its first two years of operation, with statutory services, private organisations and community groups working together to reduce the risk of them becoming involved in crime.
Police and professionals - including coaches - have worked alongside the most vulnerable young people, identifying their strengths, diverting them away from crime and encouraging more positive behaviours. Of this cohort, 72 per cent have not re-offended.
The scheme has demonstrated that, the longer a young person engaged with their coach, the less likely they were to come to police attention again. 80 per cent of the young people said that involvement with REBOOT had led to improved hope for a positive future, empowering them to make good choices and improving their general wellbeing.
Sussex PCC Katy Bourne said: “I am absolutely delighted at today’s news. We welcome the recognition this prestigious Howard League award brings to a youth scheme we have worked hard to implement in Sussex and of which we’re all rightly proud.
“The figures over the past two years speak for themselves and this is what matters most. REBOOT has always been about strengthening protective factors around vulnerable young people, showing them alternatives to crime and positively changing their future outcomes and lives.”