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NEW Report: A Criminal Waste

A Criminal Waste – a study of multiple disadvantage, offending and system failure 

Our new report, A Criminal Waste, explores the issue of people offending whilst receiving support from the Fulfilling Lives programme, examining the links between multiple disadvantage and offending and making recommendations for a whole system approach to reduce the human and financial costs of involvement with the criminal justice sector. 

Carried out in partnership with Opportunity Nottingham and West Yorkshire Finding Independence (WY-FI), the research analyses our programmes’ data to look at the demographic profile of people who offended while being supported by us, the types of offences committed and potential reasons and challenges that increased the risk of offending.     

Key findings 

Based on a sample group of 181 people with a deep dive analysis into the lives of twelve people prior to an arrest, the study found that: 

  • More women were arrested than men. 
  • The most common type of offence was “breach of legal obligations” such as probation appointments – especially amongst women. The second most common offence was theft which had equal prevalence among both genders, followed by anti-social behaviour, assault, and carrying an offensive weapon which had high prevalence amongst men.  
  • Issues associated with arrest included substance use as motivation for theft, unsuitable accommodation or homelessness, financial hardship, mental ill health acting as a barrier to accessing other parts of the system, domestic abuse, loss of friends or family, disengagement from projects and the “normalisation” of crime in people’s communities.  
  • Women and people from BAME communities faced additional challenges, arising out of systemic inequalities and insufficiently culturally and gender responsive services. 
  • People can fall into the dual role of both offender and victim of crime with little attempt to understand or acknowledge the overlap between these roles across the system. 

Recommendations for change 

The report proposes twelve recommendations for change underpinning a whole systems trauma-informed approach that includes: 

  • Promoting community-based services and out of court disposal which seek to address the underlying factors linked to offending as an alternative to custody. 
  • Providing support to sustain accommodation and expand trauma-informed housing support. 
  • Tailoring provision to improve access to and experiences of services for people from specific demographic groups such as minority ethnic communities and women. 
  • Providing training for criminal justice system staff to understand trauma-informed practice.    
  • Widening access to mental health and wellbeing support, especially psychotherapeutic interventions for people with multiple needs, particularly where there is co-occurrence with substance use.  
  • Improving understanding around the duality of being both victim and offender. 
  • Promoting access to peer mentoring and support for people experiencing multiple disadvantage.  

Find out more 

Visit A Criminal Waste (pdf) to access the full report or for more information please contact our Research and Evaluation Communications Lead Bev Hunter at