In 2014, Northamptonshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner commissioned a project to develop and deliver restorative approaches across the county, linked to a vision of Northamptonshire working towards being a restorative county by 2018. The service is being delivered by Restorative Solutions CIC a leading provider of RJ training and project management in the UK.
It was an ambitious agenda which focused on collaborative working between a range of agencies to develop and embed RJ approaches, supported by the project. The main strands were Criminal Justice agencies (police, probation, CRC’s), schools, housing providers, looked after children in care homes, Local Authority Community safety and Community Voluntary Organisations.
Northamptonshire is now realising the PCC’s vision and there are currently 25 organisations who have memoranda of understandings with the project ranging from police, NYOS, borough councils, housing providers and community and voluntary organisations, many of whom are linked in to the ECINS system.
The Restorative Northamptonshire’s Service and Team are now working closely with Voice Victim & Witness services, which is a partnership delivering a range of support services within the county and focused on supporting victims, witnesses and their families.
The principle use of ECINS has been as a referral mechanism and for case management. When cases are referred via ECINS or logged onto ECINS after receipt from other sources the system is used to manage the case, recording activities and outcomes. Most of the referrals are currently made from the police and Voice victim support workers as they have access to the higher volumes of victim details. However, referrals are also made from other partners using ECINS, for example, a recent case saw Kettering Borough Council make a referral using ECINS they granted the Project team access to a case involving an ongoing ASB neighbour dispute. The team then assigned volunteers to work alongside the council’s trained staff, resulting in delivery of a successful Restorative approaches outcome..
The option to register for and to use ECINS is available to any of the 25 organisations that are within the network and they are able to make a referral and grant the Project team access to use the system.
ECINS is proving useful for cross-border information sharing and management. The team has recently liaised with Sussex RJ Service 160 miles away on the South Coast, to assist with a case, where a person who now lives in that area, but committed offences in Northamptonshire, wishes to get involved in RJ.
The offender initiated RJ in Sussex and their RJ Service contacted the team in Northamptonshire. The two services discussed how they could progress the case in partnership. Sussex staff would manage the offender contact, carry out the initial risk assessment and then put the report on to ECINS, having granted the Northamptonshire team access to the case so that they can review and progress potential victim contact work in Northants.
Having the partner organisations signed up to ECINS makes for a quick and easy process as officers and staff are able to log in remotely, make referrals and add updates on cases, for the benefit of all those persons that might be involved in the case or have a professional interest. The local authorities, police officers, PCSOs and housing providers have been the key users, making referrals via ECINS.