A cheque for £15,000 has been presented to Reformed East Sussex (RES), an organisation which aims to help reduce re-offending by those convicted of crime.
The cash comes from the Police Property Act Fund, made up of monies received by the police from the sale of unclaimed lost property and property confiscated and sold by order of the courts.
It will help RES to provide its unique service in the Eastbourne, Hastings, Rother, Lewes and Wealden areas over the next six months.
The donation reflects Sussex Police's continued commitment, together with partner agencies, to help steer offenders away from further crime and to reduce harm to the public.
Charlie Connaughton, Integrated Offender Management co-ordinator, together with PC Jason Taylor of the Eastbourne IOM team, handed over the cheque to RES chief executive Charmaine Sewell.
Mr Connaughton said: "The RES team provides first-class support to service users in improving their prospects and job opportunities as they settle back into the community. A success for RES is a success for all our communities in the longer term.”
Recent national media coverage shows increasing pressures to look at alternative sentencing, diverting offenders away from prison and particularly those given short prison sentences.
These often prove ineffective, providing little opportunity to rehabilitate offenders and lead to unacceptably high rates of re-offending.
Charmaine Sewell said: “We know that two-thirds of prisoners released after short sentences re-offend within a year. Short sentences are long enough to damage you but not long enough to heal you.
"This is why it is so important to raise awareness and funds, both in the short and longer term."
She added: “The public would be safer if we had good community sentences. But community sentences require good community services working together to ensure they’re effective.
"RES already plays a key role in the community and we believe we could be essential in making community sentences work. The IOM is an integral part of RES, providing a forum for key stakeholders to come together to review and discuss issues relating to our most complex clients.
"Every one of them are courageous people who have decided to make a change in their lives and become an active member of society. We’re honoured to be able to help them, and flattered to receive some fantastic testimonies."
One ex-offender said: " I felt like my criminal record would stop me getting employment. I thought I would be discriminated against, but RES were understanding people who knew what I was going through. Knowing that those supporting me had also gone through similar experiences gave me hope that possibilities were out there for me.”
"After being in prison for eight years I found it difficult to find a job. With experience in kitchen and window fitting I knew my skills could be helpful to someone but I felt restricted. RES were very helpful and friendly, helping me update my CV and gain training to enable me to find a job.”
Author: Nigel Jarrett
Photo caption: (Left to right): Charlie Connaughton, Integrated Offender Management co-ordinator; Charmaine Sewell, RES chief executive officer; PC Jason Taylor, Eastbourne IOM team; Sarah Buckley, RES project manager) and Daisy Croker, RES support worker.
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