“The ‘Organisation of the Year’ award was won by GamCare, a leading provider of free information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling-related harm. The award recognises the progress that the organisation has made in its work to help gamblers who have become caught up in the criminal justice system.” – The Howard League for Penal Reform
GamCare is delighted to receive the Howard League Community Award for Organisation of the Year, recognising our work in promoting awareness and skills to tackle gambling harms in the criminal justice system (CJS).
Created by the Howard League for Penal Reform, the Awards are designed to recognise the country’s most successful community projects addressing issues which affect people across the CJS.
The link between gambling and crime has been established for some time; in fact, it was a former probation worker who founded GamCare after working with young people adversely impacted by gambling. Over the last five years GamCare and our partners, such as Breakeven and Beacon Counselling Trust, have been working to explore these issues in greater detail – working in, and alongside, the CJS to understand experiences of those are impacted by gambling harms, and designing services to fit their needs.
More recently, GamCare began a dedicated programme of work to further explore, raise awareness of, and promote cross-sector work around gambling and crime. This has been achieved primarily through two initiatives: the Hertfordshire Problem Gambling Project, and GamCare’s ongoing, wider CJS and gambling harm development work. Our work focusses on a ‘whole systems’ approach – with initiatives to screen people at arrest and the early stages of the CJS, and responding to needs at various stages in their journey, be it through police, prison, or probation services.
This recent work has involved building relationships from the ground up and raising awareness about gambling harms. While many police, prison and probation staff know anecdotally about the link between gambling and crime, there are very few structures in place to help assess or address this.
GamCare offers a range of resources such as leaflets, posters and videos to raise awareness of gambling harms, activity packs and workbooks for service users, plus free training to staff across the CJS to identify gambling harm and support their service users. There are good examples of areas where the whole criminal justice process can safeguard individuals by identifying gambling problems and harms, and refer them to support where possible. Through these systems GamCare aim for a more supportive process for people in the CJS who are experiencing gambling related harms.
GamCare has made a significant impact in this area by raising the profile of the issue and informing new learning and best practice. This led to a paper to the Howard League’s current Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling. Learning from our Hertfordshire project can also be found here.
This exploratory and developmental work are unique to both the gambling treatment sector and to the CJS. We are grateful to all our partners and other organisations who have joined us in taking action to benefit service users.