This week our blog examines what links there might be between gambling problems and crime, how GamCare can support those in the criminal justice system and what more intervention might be needed.
There are established links between disordered gambling and crime, whether that crime is committed to support gambling, to pay off gambling-related debts or in fact in relation to these crimes. Gambling related offending may include fraud, theft, domestic and financial abuse, and links into wider criminal circles too. Research studies internationally have also found that prison populations are more vulnerable than the general population to disordered gambling and other gambling-related harms.
Despite being prohibited, gambling is also a part of prison sub-culture. The consequences of gambling within prisons can be severe, yet gambling problems among prisoners largely go unrecognised and untreated.
It is therefore very important that those who work within the criminal justice system (CJS), including prisons and probation services, are aware not only of the prevalence and nature of gambling within the CJS and the links between crime and gambling, but also the implications of a lack of accessible support or treatment options for those affected by or at risk of gambling-related harms. Ensuring that individuals in the CJS have access to support will help to reduce harms for individuals, families, communities and society.
GamCare and some of our network of partner agencies have been providing support services within the CJS for several years. We currently work with/within several prisons, police custody suites, courts, and with probation and community rehabilitation company (CRC) teams in order to support individuals affected by gambling-related harm. Our work also includes training to professionals within the CJS.
We can offer a range of services to individuals experiencing gambling harm who are in contact with the CJS. As a minimum, this includes access to the National Gambling Helpline, information leaflets and self-help resources. Where possible with the support of the CJS agency, we can also offer one to one support, our online GameChange course, and other interventions where appropriate.
We also have a dedicated Forum for those experiencing gambling harms within the CJS. if you would like to contribute to the Forum to seek support or support others, you can find this here.
GamCare have contributed to the Howard League Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling, which will run until 2022. You can read our evidence report, which outlines further the links between crime and gambling, where we provide support, recommendations for an improved treatment model and a whole systems approach, here.
If you would like any more information about our work with the CJS, including how your organisation can contribute to this or work in partnership with GamCare, please contact our Criminal Justice team at [email protected].