Many of the people who come through our magistrates’ courts commit low-level offences such as drunk and disorderly conduct – and go on to commit them again and again. The offences themselves may seem minor but they end up absorbing a good deal of the criminal justice system’s resources. Typically, the seriousness of the offences means they receive fines or conditional discharges. But very often the people who receive these sentences end up returning to court.
Advice and support services predominantly target these offenders who have underlying problems but whose offences mean they do not meet the community order threshold. The service works with them to identify and tackle their problems in order to reduce the likelihood of their returning to court and to enable them to live more fulfilling lives.
This toolkit has been designed to help district judges, magistrates, members of Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCTS) and other practitioners to design and deliver advice and support services in magistrates’ courts. It is based on practice developed through services delivered in Plymouth, Bodmin, Truro and Highbury Corner.
The toolkit contains step-by-step guidance on how to set up, deliver and evaluate the impact of an advice and support service in your area. It also includes practical resources that can be used as templates by practitioners designing and delivering similar services.