- Sep 13 2016
First of all, what is a CRC and how is Sodexo involved?
Alex Osler: In 2014, the British authorities created Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) to provide probation services in England and Wales. Some of them were later transferred to the private sector, and Sodexo became the operator of six CRCs – including for the county of Essex. Fundamentally, our task is to reduce re-offending, and we do that by supervising court orders that are allocated to us by the national probation service. In Essex, we have 5,500 adults in our case load and we work with justice services in prisons, supervise people who are released from prison on license and supervise community services.
How would you describe Sodexo’s approach?
A. O.: We are very keen to focus on the rehabilitative aspects of our activities. As part of that, we deliver a whole range of ‘wrap-around’ services to help offenders meet a variety of support needs. A lot of people who commit offences do so because they have nowhere to live, or they have harmful alcohol or drug addictions, or they can’t read or write. We work to meet those needs so that they don’t re-offend. We very much see our role as improving the quality of life of both the service users and also the local community.
Could you tell us more about your partnership in Norway?
A. O.: Our CRC, and its predecessor in Essex, has had a reciprocal arrangement with the Prison Officer Training College in Oslo since 2003. About 7 to 12 people from Sodexo UK make a three-day visit to Norway each year, as a reward for the winners of a staff recognition program known as the High Sherriff Awards. In return, Norwegian trainees visit prisons and probation services in the UK as part of their prison officers’ qualification.
My abiding memory is how professional and motivated the prison system and the Probation service were. Most of us were envious of the sheer amount of resources available to the service. Aside from any political ideology on how a criminal justice system should work, it really seemed that Norway’s model, when it came to reducing re-offending, actually worked. The Oslo probation office was a warm, welcoming environment where offenders felt they could engage in private, comfortable surroundings and make progress.
Paul Brown, Community Integration Officer, Essex CRC
How has this partnership influenced you?
A. O.: It’s an extraordinary opportunity as the Norwegian model is based on a restorative approach, rather than a punitive one. And that same focus on getting people to desist from offending by rehabilitating them and reintegrating them with the local community is one we share at Sodexo. There are also benefits for our own Sodexo people, in terms of their personal growth. For our staff, these visits to Norway are not only a reward, they are also an eye-opener – a really positive experience.
There were a number of very positive things about the visit to Norway and I am pleased that some of the ways that they work have been replicated here in the UK; in particular having a more open plan reception where there is no barrier between the Offenders and the staff.
Monica Garcia Calbio, Offender Manager,
How can Sodexo help to prevent re-offending?
A. O.: The latest research tells us that the key to desistence is the quality of the working relationship between staff and service users, and how much the person we’re dealing with contributes to the community, either socially or through their skills. There comes a tipping point when people acquire sufficient skills and commitment that they have more to lose than to gain by offending. Our aim is to help them move toward that tipping point. I’ve worked in this sector for 22 years and I’m really passionate about what we do and proud of what we’ve achieved. I really believe that, in the UK, we can make a difference to people’s quality of life. In different ways, the partnership with Norway helps to shape our thinking on this.
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