Preventing crime and unlocking human potential: learnings from lived experiences

While we campaign on a national level to disrupt the cycle of crisis and crime, we firmly believe that local partnerships are just as important to create meaningful change. This is why we were thrilled to explore pockets of creativity and forward-thinking practice all across England, with the overall aim of shaping policy and practice to break the cycle of crisis and crime, at our Diversion and Prevention events.

After two exciting events in London and Birmingham, we wrapped up our final event in Manchester yesterday, gathering people with lived experience, statutory services, policymakers, practitioners, and voluntary sector organisations to explore preventive and diversionary measures that prioritise addressing the root causes of repeat, low-level crime.

Throughout these events, the key aim of incorporating lived experience into all services and agencies that people caught in the ‘revolving door’ of crisis and crime encounter resonated strongly – which is something we have continuously advocated for at Revolving Doors. We hear from our lived experience members, time and again, that lived experience involvement is vital to address the lack of trust experienced by those who have often been turned away or denied the support they desperately needed to address their unmet health and social needs. In particular, they emphasise the unique ability of peer mentors to establish connections, both with them personally and with the services involved, thereby paving the way for successful interventions and marking the beginning of their escape from the revolving door.

The day started with a panel session consisting of three of our lived experience members, who talked to the audience about what diversion means to them, and what could have made a difference earlier on in their journey.

“I didn’t trust services. It didn’t make any difference whether you were a GP or a police officer … It’s the peer support that made the system work for me. Trusting relationships and a holistic approach – these were really important for me, and this is what I got from diversion.”

Lived experience member

“My crimes … [were also due to] the lack of support [with my addiction]. If I had had someone who was making the liaison between services, maybe that would have helped me back then.”

Lived experience member

A powerful message that came through from both our lived experience members – who have first-hand knowledge of what truly helps individuals to turn their lives around –and the wider audience, was that each arrest should be viewed as an opportunity to divert the person into appropriate support. Punitive approaches, such as short sentences, exacerbate social stigma, trauma, and financial hardship, without addressing underlying issues such as poverty, mental-ill health, or problems with drugs and alcohol. By neglecting true rehabilitation, we fail to address crime effectively, leading to a perpetuating churn within the criminal justice system and added pressure on the public purse.

 “When you go to prison on a short sentence, you get out and you’ve got nothing. You’ve lost your house. People are even worse off now with the cost-of-living crisis. You end up just going around in circles.”

Lived experience member

“It costs more to put someone in prison than divert them.”

Lived experience member

With this understanding, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) attended our event to shape the development of their new Out of Court Disposal (OOCD) model, to ensure that it is truly effective in reducing crime and supporting people to lead better lives. This led to dynamic and interactive discussions across tables, where a crucial element emerged: the importance of co-locating services and offering a wide range of comprehensive support under one roof. This approach aims to minimise unnecessary reassessments and create a more accessible and streamlined system for individuals to engage with.

Beyond mere dependence on traditional statutory services and clinical approaches, the audience championed the need to explore community-based services and activities which present innovative solutions for engagement and support, looking towards art, music, drama, and sport.

Providing lived experience training for key practitioners, including the police, was also identified as crucial to foster empathy and understanding of the needs of individuals trapped in the cycle of crisis and crime, ultimately reducing the likelihood of further criminal justice encounters.

“We commission several services that support people in prison and on probation in the Greater Manchester area, and we have worked with Revolving Doors for several years now to evaluate those services and make sure they are informed by lived experience … We’re working to produce an evidence report for police and probation on what the OOCD process should look like, and the information we heard today will help to feed into this.

GMCA partner

We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of GMCA’s consultation at our event and the transformative impact that these crucial lived experience insights will have on their new OOCD model. Fostering inclusive spaces like this one, where decision-makers, statutory services, and people with lived experience unite to shape a fairer and smarter criminal justice system, lies at the heart of our mission to break the cycle of crisis and crime.

Want to be part of this journey? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to stay in the loop about future lived experience events.

Don’t want to wait? Let’s join forces now! If you’d like to discuss other opportunities for getting involved, as someone with lived experience or as someone who works with people with lived experience, please email Natalia at If you want to explore the potential of embedding lived experience insights into a delivery or policy project you are currently working on, get in touch at