Introducing LCCS - January 2010
“Magistrates and probation working
together with your community to improve
public confidence in sentencing and raise
awareness of the effectiveness of
Inclusiveness, equality and fairness are central to the way we work
The Founding Patron
The Rt Hon the Lord Woolf of Barnes
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, The Rt Hon the Lord Judge of Draycote
The Rt Hon the Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers
Baroness Linklater of Butterstone
The Aim and Key Messages
The Aim of the LCCS Project
To improve public confidence in sentencing and to raise awareness of the effectiveness of community sentences.
The Key Messages
To reduce crime and the number of victims of crime, we need to change the way offenders behave;
Prison has a role to play, but is not always the best answer;
Community sentences are tough and demanding. They can be more effective than prison in reducing re‐offending and protecting the public.
Introducing the LCCS project
There is good evidence to suggest that given more information and a greater understanding about crime, sentencing practice and options, the public is far less punitive than the press would have us believe. It is possible to ‘make a difference’ – to influence public opinion. This plus understanding that we are all more responsive to a human face and a story rather than bald facts and figures, were two major factors that came together in the development of the LCCS project.
Working in Partnership
In 2001 the Magistrates’ Association (MA) won a grant for a public awareness‐raising project from the ‘Rethinking Crime and Punishment’ initiative of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
The project’s bold aim was to ‘improve public confidence in sentencing and raise awareness of the effectiveness of community penalties’. They approached the Probation Boards’ Association to partner them in developing the project. Stephanie North, a magistrate and at the time, a probation board member with the Thames Valley area, was approached to chair a national steering group, set up to guide the project as it was developed over the next few years.
The initial thought was to take an already successful MA project, ‘Magistrates in the Community ‘ – which aimed to raise awareness about the work of the lay magistracy – and extend it to look at community sentencing and the work of the probation service.
Fundamentally it was to involve magistrates and probation staff partnering each other and presenting offender case studies to local community groups. As well as influencing the public, it was hoped that through partnership working, an additional impact of the project would be to increase liaison between sentencers and probation.
It is probably fair to say that when the National Steering group for the ‘Local Crime: Community Sentence’ project (as it came to be known) first got together to discuss how the initial idea could be taken forward, they had little notion how the project would grow and take on a life of its own. The project received a boost in May 2002 when the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf agreed to be the founding patron. Several years later the enthusiasm for the project by all involved is as great – if not greater – than when it was first proposed.
Considerable time was taken over planning the form of the project and how it would be both piloted and evaluated. Three probation areas were approached (Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Northumbria and Lancashire) and asked to take part. Each was represented on the National Steering Group to ensure feed‐back as the project was road‐tested.
It was identified early on that a national co‐ordinator was needed – someone who could act as a focal point for help and information for the pilot areas. Interviews were held in late 2002 and Jim Leach, became appointed as the first LCCS national co‐ordinator.