Anxiety is increasingly being identified as a contributing factor to criminal offending, assessments by Probation Officers have revealed.
Between January and September 2020, Social Enquiry Reports (SERs) - reviews of defendants' backgrounds which are presented to the court before sentencing - show that there have been increases since 2019 in a variety of contributing factors, including aggression, emotional problems, employment and relationships.
A report on the Probation Service's activities throughout the pandemic published this week noted: "Over the past six months, more Probation clients have reported feelings of anxiety and this is borne out by the assessments of Probation Officers, who, in their court reports outline the main contributory factors to offending."
Pictured: A breakdown of the factors found to have contributed to offending.
Of the 212 individuals who had SERs compiled about them between January and September, there were 41 people on probation who had ‘emotional problems’ listed as a contributing factor to their offences, a 44% increase on January-September 2019.
Similarly, there were 71 people who were categorised as having ‘relationship problems’, 42% more than the previous January-September. 57 were found to have family problems, a 29% increase.
In terms of social situations, housing problems almost doubled, going from 11 people in 2019 to 20 people in 2020. There were 43% more people with money problems too, rising to 30.
Indeed, in every other contributory factor, there was an increase in people from the previous. Aggression, alcohol misuse and drug misuse all rose too.
Pictured: 44 out of 212 cases were cited as having suffered 'emotional problems'.
Reflecting on the challenges of operating the service during the pandemic, Chief Probation Officer Mike Cutland said: “The last nine months has been an extremely challenging time for clients and staff.
"The positive and ‘can do’ manner in which the team have adapted to covid-19 has been commendable and is a key factor behind the innovative work and successful outcomes.
“Colleagues have always appreciated that as a public body we have a responsibility to continue to provide a range of services for courts, clients and the community. They have often gone ‘the extra mile’ and their efforts are reflected in some encouraging data that shows a high completion rate of orders."
Pictured: Despite there being less Reports than in 2019, numbers of contributing factors still increased in 2020.
He continued: “We recognise that we cannot operate successfully in isolation and need to work collaboratively with other agencies who can complement our work.
“One of the few rays of light to emerge from this worrying period has been the manner in which partner agencies have joined us in rolling up our sleeves, doing things innovatively, but at all times with a determination to have a positive impact in all we do.”
Earlier this month, Jersey Probation Service Chair, Jurat Collette Crill, called the Government’s desire to change the oversight of the service “unsettling and regrettable.”
She described the Government’s desire to change the oversight of the service as “perplexing” in light of Probation’s “very strong” performance.
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