14 July 2014
New project will aid rising numbers of Muslim ex-offenders in the UK
A new project from The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) aims to identify and provide support to the rising numbers of Muslim ex-offenders in the UK to successfully reintegrate into their communities.
Figures published in Prison Population Statistics show that the Muslim prison population in the UK has increased by some 200 percent since 1997, highlighting the challenges faced by this ethnic group.
UCLan’s ReachingOut offender rehabilitation and re-integration project, which has already received backing from Ministry of Justice and department of Business Innovation and Skills, aims to support ex-offenders and their families from Black and Minority Ethnic Muslim communities in North West Lancashire.
The University has received a prestigious £15,000 funding grant from both the Lancashire Probation Trust and NHS England which will focus on specific and individual needs of the service users (that will be linked to family and cultural factors) in order to help them to desist from re-offending.
“Never before has the rehabilitation and social re-integration of this cohort of offenders been more critical and significant, both to society and the government.”
The UCLan team, in partnership with Lancashire Probation Trust (to be known as the Cumbria and Lancashire Community Rehabilitation Company [CRC] from 1 July 2014) and Arooj – A community-based mentoring organisation, will conduct a pilot study over a 12 month period.
The study will explore and evaluate the challenges faced by this particular cohort of ex-offenders through their journey of social re-integration, and the extent to which they are able to achieve the values of social justice for themselves and their families.
In doing so, the team will explore the factors that contribute to the extent to which the ex-offenders engage with mentoring and support for their rehabilitation, over a 12 month period after release from prison. Research methodologies comprising of focus group discussions, one to one interviews, visual evidence (photographs) and questionnaires will be undertaken and the data collected through these means will then be analysed to identify significant findings.
The small scaled pilot will provide a range of social action methods; improve support and guidance for the most vulnerable while intending to drive down the rate of reoffending in the North West region by this circle.
“Many organisations today work with offenders but lack the expertise required to support the cohort of people they are working with in a way that is needed.”
Dr Christine Hough, Lecturer in Education at the School of Education and Social Science at UCLan said: “I am very proud to be involved in this project which provides a unique level of specialist support for vulnerable BME offenders. Never before has the rehabilitation and social re-integration of this cohort of offenders been more critical and significant, both to society and the government. We at UCLan are delighted to receive backing from institutions such as Ministry of Justice and the department of Business Innovation and Skills and look forward to playing an active role in helping the local community drive down the number of re-offenders.
“Using various techniques and social action methods to support rehabilitation, this project aims to provide a model which can be adapted nationwide in a way that is affordable within the context of the Ministry of Justice’s commitment to deliver annual savings of over £2 billion by 2014/15. It will also become part of the new picture of practical services that will be available for commissioning by the new CRCs and existing service companies in the public and third sector.”
Tariq Mahmood, Director of Arooj commented: “Many organisations today work with offenders but lack the expertise required to support the cohort of people they are working with in a way that is needed.
“This is what makes this particular project different. Not only have we worked with families from Black and Minority Ethnic Muslim communities in North West Lancashire for more than a decade, working with The Integrated Offender Manager (IOM) at Lancashire Probation Trust means the value of this model of rehabilitation is acknowledged as successful in addressing the sensitive issues associated with the cultural, social and health needs of BME, Muslim ex-offenders.”