Pioneering policing and probation work

Letters

The Durham constabulary’s deferred prosecution scheme looks like a good example of doing “something different” to achieve the transformational change that the criminal justice system is crying out for (Pioneering police scheme slashes reoffending rates, 15 February). But as its champion, Jo Farrell, reminds us, “context is everything” and your article raises bigger questions about the part preventative work plays in rehabilitation, not to mention a properly resourced probation service.

Mental health problems and substance abuse form with domestic violence the toxic trio that underpins so much violent crime and, as the criminologists observe, finding a long-term solution means going back to the root problem and designing tailored support that, quoting Farrell again, considers “the situation you’re dealing with and their background”.

Far from “trying to do things on the cheap”, the public health approach underpinning schemes like Durham’s challenges us to consider how public funding can be targeted in a more intelligent way than the traditional calls for more prosecutions, prisons and police officers.
Steve Phaure
CEO, Croydon Voluntary Action

• Your article on work with offenders by Durham police to address the cycle of reoffending was interesting. It’s great that they have such good results and also involve victims of crime. But I was baffled by the fact that there was no mention of the probation service, which has been doing exactly the same work (albeit post conviction) nationwide for many years. Despite huge cuts, its dedicated and underpaid staff do an amazing, widely unrecognised, job.
Sarah Clark
Bristol

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition