The Safer Living Centre – Nottingham is an initiative of the Safer Living Foundation (SLF) and is the first of its kind in the UK. It aims to support people convicted of a sexual offence to safely reintegrate into the community and reduce the number of victims of sexual abuse and harm.
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The Safer Living Centre – Nottingham was launched in 2019 to reduce the number of victims of sexual abuse and harm. It aims to cut serious crime by reducing repeat offending, especially sexual offending, thereby preventing further potential victims.
The Safer Living Centre – Nottingham adds to the support the SLF offers to its service users. The aim of the SLF, formed as a partnership between senior members of Whatton Prison and psychologists from the School of Social Sciences at NTU, is to promote wellbeing within communities by reducing sexual offending, re-offending, victim numbers, and levels of risk associated with such crimes.
Who does the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham support?
The Safer Living Centre – Nottingham supports people with sexual convictions who are trying to live productive and offence-free lives. It also supports newly arrested service users, those on bail awaiting charge or trial, people with problematic sexual thinking, and the family or friends of service users, who are also impacted by having contact with the criminal justice system, often for the first time in their lives.
Facilitated by the Centre Manager, the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham helps service users safely reintegrate into the community by offering practical and emotional support, educational opportunities, and training. Service users can get advice on employment, educational and active citizenship opportunities, and housing issues. They are also offered life skills classes and help with social skills, to reduce feelings of isolation and improve their ability to integrate safely into local community life.
The Centre is also used for Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) meetings, the Aurora Project, and by members of the SOCAMRU research team who evaluate SLF projects.
Multiple agencies may refer service users to the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham, for example, police, probation, prisons, and social care teams. Individuals can also self-refer. Referrals can be made for any adult (over the age of 18) of any gender who:
- Has a conviction for a sexual offence;
- Has had problematic sexual behaviour;
- Has recently been arrested for an alleged sexual offence and is awaiting a resolution;
- Lives in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire or Lincolnshire;
- Can travel to the Centre of their own accord and at their own expense;
- Signs and agrees to follow the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham contract and Code of Conduct;
- Successfully passes a risk assessment before attending;
- Has permission from Probation and/or MOSOVO (if applicable).
Aims and Objectives of the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham
Services at the Centre have been chosen based on their alignment with protective factors for sexual re-offending, such as a constructive social and professional support network, goal-directed living, engagement with employment or constructive leisure activities, and a hopeful, optimistic and motivated attitude to desistance (de Vries Robbe, Mann, Maruna & Thornton, 2014). To this end, the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham offers the following:
- support to access education, employment and housing
- assistance with employability skills and identification of job opportunities
- advice and assistance with supervised internet access and phone calls, for the purpose of communication with potential employers or agencies
- lectures and practical workshops on business and financial management skills for those for whom being self-employed post-release is a viable option
- a safe and social place for individuals to develop skills such as cooking, mindfulness, and improving social skills
- space for religious services and support groups
- support for friends and family is also provided.
The Centre location is not disclosed to the public. Safety is a primary concern of the SLF and the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham; there are robust risk assessment procedures in place, and Centre staff work in conjunction with Nottinghamshire Police and Probation Services. All service users are considered safe to be in the community by the Criminal Justice System. The Centre ensures that individuals abide by any licence conditions they may have, and supports them to live offence-free lives in the community. Trained staff and volunteers supervise the Centre during its delivery hours. The Centre is open Monday to Fridays between 9am-5pm. There is no charge for attending the Centre, and no limit on the number of sessions attended. All visits to the Centre must be pre-booked, and there is no facility for drop-in attendance.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Staff at the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham are experienced in working with individuals convicted of a sexual offence, and display knowledge and understanding to support them. Centre staff also have experience working with diverse populations, including deaf, transgender, elderly and intellectually disabled individuals. The SLF strives to include and support all individuals in the service.
Research and Evaluation
In line with other projects managed by the SLF, the effectiveness of the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham is evaluated by SOCAMRU (Sexual Offences, Crime and Misconduct Research Unit) at Nottingham Trent University. SOCAMRU will relay results from their research and evaluation back to the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham to improve the service offering. Findings and conclusions on recidivism, desistance and enhanced public safety drawn from this research will be disseminated to the public through reports, journal articles and presentations.
SOCAMRU utilises a Mixed Methods approach to research and evaluation of the Safer Living Centre – Nottingham. It collects quantitative data from the service users at regular intervals, using established psychometric measures of dynamic risk factors such as mental wellbeing and feelings of isolation, to determine changes over time. Qualitative data is collected through interviews and focuses on the lived experience of service users. This dual approach will provide robust evidence to draw solid conclusions about the efficacy of the Centre’s applied approach to service users’ wellbeing, reintegration into society, and the positive impact on public safety.
This research holds potential for a new direction in managing prisoner reintegration in general, and more specifically, support of people with sexual convictions or harmful sexual behaviours.
The SLF is currently working with Nottinghamshire Police, Crimestoppers, NTU’s Sexual Violence Project Officer, and other local agencies to develop innovative and creative educational programmes to increase awareness about preventing sexual harm.
The SLF also plans to implement peer support and mentoring schemes. These can be accredited and will therefore support service users’ employment prospects, as well as assist personal growth.