A fresh focus for PCCs: Trauma, poverty and rehabilitation

Burcu Borysik

Today, Revolving Doors publishes a review of strategies and activities led or supported by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to address the impact of trauma and poverty among people who are in, or at risk of entering, the revolving door. The review provides a snapshot of the strategic thinking and collaboration between policing, health and local authorities, and highlights a growing focus on vulnerability and a commitment to prevention across the offices of PCCs since 2016.

The review showcases lots of examples of good practice in areas such as early intervention to support children who experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), multi-agency partnerships to support children in the criminal justice system, women’s centres that adopt trauma-informed approaches, and a growing focus on the role of trauma in violence reduction. These emerging practices, alongside the commitment of PCCs to divert young adults away from the criminal justice system bode well for the future. The challenge ahead is  to make the strategic link between trauma, poverty and discrimination, specifically to prevent a new generation of young adults (18-25) from being caught in the revolving door of crisis and crime.

Statistics prove that children and young adults living in deprived neighbourhoods are more likely to suffer traumatic incidents, like witnessing or being the victim of violence, and parental neglect or abuse. Children and young adults also struggle with the daily stress caused by food poverty and housing insecurity, and they most likely experience persistent poverty throughout their lives, exacerbated by school exclusions, unemployment, or working in underpaid jobs. Factors associated with poverty such as low neighbourhood safety, daily hassles, alongside racial discrimination increase the risk that trauma will negatively impact the lives of young adults.

We know that the right intervention can make all the difference. The preventative measures, including diversion schemes supported by PCCs, have reduced the number of children entering the criminal justice system to the lowest levels on record. We can do the same for young adults. Evidence shows that effective diversion, alongside an offer of long-term and culturally competent support, can foster positive and stable relationships and reverse some of the combined impact of poverty and trauma and help to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Revolving Doors is working with PCCs and their offices across the country to make this a reality. Our partnership with PCCs is important to us, and we hope this review will spark a conversation and encourage the spread of good practice. With PCC elections around the corner, there is an opportunity for candidates to reset or re-affirm their priorities. We hope many will take the change to focus on the examples of good practice we found, and the next iteration of police and crime plans will say more about tackling trauma and poverty.