Surrey Police and 3rd sector organisation (Catalyst) Specialist assertive outreach service – cuckooing
The project is a new initiative to explore how specialist assertive outreach workers can work alongside Surrey Police to support; victims of cuckooing and other drug users accessing the premises. The aim is to support the Police reduce their time spent with victims, divert people away from the criminal justice system, and support victims access a broad range of services to meet their needs.
Individuals are referred to the outreach team by the Police, CHaRMMS (District/Boroughs) when there is a possibility of a partial or full closure on a property. The referral highlights both needs and risks. Outreach workers then engage with victims at their accommodation or in the community, and work with them to meet their immediate needs and engage with key services. The outcomes of the pilot are broader than criminal justice, but are all inter-related, they include:
§ A reduction in; a) crime, harms and antisocial behaviour to both individuals and local communities b) ‘cuckooing’ c) police time in supporting victims d) homelessness
§ An increase in: a) victims and associates accessing treatment and support, b) community reassurance
§ An improvement in a) the health and wellbeing of the victim and other drug users; b) police knowledge and intelligence to benefit and protect the community.
Once the team have engaged with the victim, each person receives an individually tailored package of support. Consent needs to informed and freely given, and the person is at the centre of all decision making about their support, and referral to other services. The role of the team is to engage the person re: their needs and risks, provide brief interventions, and engage them with other services e.g. prescribing service, mental health services, GP etc. that meet those needs. However, some clients have been in on-going high risk situations and the team have kept in regular contact over many months. Support is varied and can include:
· Practical help and support; providing pay-as-you-go phones, food, debt, housing, transport to places of safety, support attending appointments, holding multiagency meetings etc.
· Facilitating access or re-engagement to drug and/or alcohol treatment and recovery support
· Support the victim to comply with the criminal justice process re: partial or full closures.
The service has a client feedback form which rates the service, gives opportunity for how things could be done differently and opportunity for feedback, e.g. Nick was nothing short of magnificent in everything he did to counsel and support me, to combat my drug problems and to ensure I didn’t lose my flat. I honestly cannot speak highly enough of how Nick helped me and I am immensely grateful.
This pilot project started in November 2018, and as of 29th July have supported 45 people. The project impacts on offending and re-offending for cuckooed victims, other acquaintances, and disrupts local and County lines gangs.
The team have set up two databases; one is a ‘profile’ system to gather information to identify if there are any key indicators to being a victim i.e. gender, age, location, type of housing, history of homelessness, mental health, debt, relationship with dealers/County lines etc. The other database monitors client contact and outcomes based on their needs. In partnership with the Police the team also have criminal justice data on pre and post engagement for each client re: arrests, SCARF reports, missing person reports, vulnerable adult incidents, crimes related to the property and call outs to the road. The initial data has highlighted the need for analyses over time, as the process of partial and full closures can increase crimes related to property and calls to road. The learning from
this is to engage with victim earlier in the process not just reacting when a closure is about to be made.
In May 2019, an initial pilot report was completed for 23 clients. Between November and May; the 10 victims re-engaged with services, 16 (70%) tenancies were saved, 11 victims managed their debts, 15 victims were referred to support services, and 6 victims were engaged with a GP.
Client Y is a female in her 60’s. Crack had been her drug of choice, but had not used for some time. She suffers from psychosis, anxiety and depression for which she is medicated but no support services were in place.
Client Y befriended a local female sleeping in a tent and let her come to stay as she felt sorry for her. The female was a heroin and crack user. Before long the female brought a ‘County Lines’ dealer into property. He had just been released from prison and was a previous PPO. He would expect Y to deal for him and in turn would ‘give’ her some drugs. Y started using crack and ran up a small debt. At one time the dealer held a knife to her stomach and threatened her. Through intelligence, the Police raided the property; seventeen wraps were found on the client, she was arrested and charged with possession with intent to supply. She pleaded guilty as felt she had no other option as she could not risk being a ‘grass’. The dealer was not arrested.
The couple returned to property the following evening asking her to store their clothes as they were homeless again. The outreach worker rang Y and during the call there was a knock on the door. The client could see the couple and she attempted to get rid of them but felt intimidated by the male, eventually giving them access. The worker phoned back and it was evident she could not speak and when asked if she needed the police, she replied ‘yes’. Police were alerted by 101 and asked to complete a welfare check due to concerns for her safety. When they attended the premises, they found both persons in the premises. Y was able to discreetly inform the police that the male had visited the bathroom and ‘plugged’ heroin. He was arrested and the female escorted from the address.
Within a week of being referred, workers had met and assessed Y and her support needs. The team had regular contact with Y, especially leading up to the court appearance where she suffered severe anxiety having been informed by her solicitor to ‘pack a bag’ as she faced an immediate custodial sentence. Team’s work included:
· Constant liaising with the police and the referrer.
· Contacting housing and securing her front door.
· Introducing her to Mary Francis Trust for support around her wellbeing, which she is attending.
· Liaising with solicitor and wrote a support letter to the Crown Court. As a result of the sentencing, she was given 20 months suspended prison sentence (instead of custodial) for 2 years, fined £140, and given 20 RAR sessions with probation.
· Liaising with probation and full handover given.
The outcome for Y is no further drug use and no closure. Unfortunately, the County Lines dealer is still operating in the area, having moved on to another address, the occupant of which has now been referred to this project.
Jo Grimshaw Surrey police Anti Social Behaviour Manager