Commissioner showcases Hertfordshire's 'Thriving Families' approach at national event
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, has shared Hertfordshire’s experience and success in helping families at risk of involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour.

He spoke at the National ‘Troubled Families’ Conference in London on Friday, June 27th on the topic of ‘preventing the inter-generational cycle of crime’ and the role of PCCs in this work.

He said: “The most important thing we can do for young people is to give them the very best start in life  – and, for some, the focus of this is to break the cycle of crime for those in ‘at risk’ families. Taking a holistic approach with the whole family is something I really believe in.

“We all know that the earlier we intervene with young people already offending, or at risk of offending, the less likely it is that this behaviour becomes deeply entrenched and the less expensive it is for society to deal with the consequences.

“I strongly believe the best way to cut crime is to tackle issues further up the chain, before they develop into crime or anti-social behaviour – and to do that we need the full range of partners to play their part as it is not possible for police to do this alone. Criminalising young people has always got to be the very last resort. First, we must do everything we can to give them better role models, opportunities for a better life and aspirations for the future.”

He added: “The value of Police and Crime Commissioners is that we have a privileged view of the entire system, which gives us unparalleled cross-agency leadership potential and that is why so many of us have grasped the opportunity to use our role to marshal and encourage partnerships across the system.”

The Government’s Troubled Families Programme has been going for just over two years and the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, has stated that the programme “is already helping half of our target of 120,000 troubled families”.  With an extra £200 million announced to extend funding beyond 2015, the annual conference that Commissioner Lloyd attended provides a national perspective of progress with Troubled Families and delivers practical insight to help optimise and streamline services to intervene in families at risk and families in crisis. 

Hertfordshire is required by the Department of Communities and Local Government to turn around 1,350 families by the end of the 2012-15 ‘Troubled Families’ initiative. By the end of May 2014, 2,169 potentially eligible families had been identified through data matching and 1,178 families have been engaged by the service.

So far, families have responded well in achieving significant improvements against anti-social behaviour, school and crime issues. Supporting people towards paid employment has proved tougher but it is anticipated that work in this area will show increasing dividends in the coming year.

In Hertfordshire, services are now designed in a way to provide a better journey and outcome for the families being targeted. There is a named dedicated family intervention worker, with ownership of the family who looks at what’s really happening for the family as a whole and coordinates multi-agency support on behalf of all family members with an interest.

The Commissioner highlighted some successful ‘diversionary’ schemes in the county that target young people, including ‘Linkz Up’ in Stevenage- an engineering academy with a bike maintenance programme. The scheme will get old bicycles (many donated by the police from lost property when the owners cannot be traced) to repair them to sell on, and buy another set of bikes. There are currently six youths for the pilot - male and female - and the aim is to divert them from engaging in anti-social behaviour at the weekends.

Another scheme is ‘Boxclever’ – an independent charity supported by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service taking children who have been referred from agencies such as the police, social services, local schools and Thriving Families and teaching them how to box. There has been significant success in reducing offending behaviour, increasing self-esteem and reuniting family units. The charity has also received national recognition.

Thriving Families in Hertfordshire has also been exploring how to expand the service to meet the needs of more families who do not meet the current criteria.

In Broxbourne, Thriving Families and the Probation Service are working together to support five families where the main carer is a female offender. These families wouldn’t normally fit the criteria but they still need our help. I am hopeful it will show that applying the Family Intervention Model can have a positive impact both of reducing reoffending and empowering vulnerable individuals to become self-reliant;

In East Hertfordshire, a school nurse project- funding a school nurse to cover four schools - jointly paid for by the Thriving Families programme and NHS for 16 months - is working to improve the health and wellbeing of children, identifying those with health issues and educating them, and their parents, about immunisations and enhancing the wider health and lifestyles of their children.