Bethany examines the link between crime and gambling, and how GamCare can support people across the criminal justice system affected by gambling problems.
GamCare and our partners have been working across the Criminal Justice System (CJS) for many years. We are now seeing a rising interest in the issue of crime and gambling, as well as regular and increasing requests from criminal justice organisations across Great Britain for training and interventions in various settings.
The link between crime and gambling could be complex, or it may be a direct link such as someone stealing to fund their gambling if it’s become unmanageable. Issues around debt are particularly intertwined. Those who are in prison may also have started gambling in prison to pass the time, and find that this has escalated. Other crimes linked to gambling include domestic violence or abuse, and many of these remain unreported.
Our current work across the system allows us to provide treatment and support in several different locations to this need-to-reach group. We largely provide treatment to individuals who have been referred to us through a range of CJS organisations, such as probation offices, police and youth offending teams. The National Gambling Helpline is also made available on the global call list for all prisons across England, meaning that prisoners can request an additional call allowance to seek our support in a confidential space.
We are working on developing a whole-system approach to provide gambling support across the system, including our current pilot in Hertfordshire, which includes training to CJS professionals, brief interventions for service users, provision of bespoke resources, and signposting/referral into treatment.
Our aim with this programme, which is now in its second year, is to train those working in the CJS to recognise the signs of problem gambling and develop referral pathways so that as many people as possible who need support receive it. We’re raising awareness of gambling-related harm within the system itself and offering workshops and interventions to those who need them.
We hope that our CJS programme will continue to grow, and allow us not only to continue to develop our long-term impact where we are already active, but to roll-out our whole-system approach in many more locations.
The Howard League for Penal Reform have also formed a specific Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling, to review the available evidence and provide recommendations on how best we can tackle gambling-related harms across the whole system – for individuals, families and communities.
If you need support now, you can contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or chat to one of our advisers online. They will listen to what’s going on for you and talk you through the best support options available.
We also have run forum page dedicated for those in the Criminal Justice System, providing a safe space to talk to others in a similar situation to you. Join the conversation now >>