Working with the Criminal Justice System
There are links between disordered gambling and crime, whether crime is committed to support gambling or to pay off gambling-related debts. Gambling related offending may include fraud, theft, domestic and financial abuse, and links into wider criminality or criminal circles.
Research studies have found that prison populations are more vulnerable than the general population to problem and disordered gambling (as well as other co-morbidity, addictions and mental health issues).
One of the three key objectives of the UK Gambling Act 2005 relates to crime; preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime.
Despite being prohibited, gambling is 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, important that those who work within prisons and probation services are aware, not only of the prevalence and nature of gambling within the criminal justice service (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 crime and gambling problems, or those at risk of gambling-related harms.
Ensuring that individuals in the CJS have access to support for gambling problems and gambling-related harms will help to reduce harms for individuals, families, communities and society.
What is GamCare currently doing?
GamCare and (some of) our network of treatment partners have been providing support services within the CJS for several years. We currently work with/within a number of 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, which is a key activity.
We are able to 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 (Freephone, available 24 hours a day), 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 (CBT) 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.
In addition, we are working with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Hertfordshire to provide a range of bespoke end to end services across the CJS, as part of a two-year pilot (to Oct 20). More information will be made available here soon.
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.
Read our most recent blog post on this topic here.
For more information about our work with the CJS, contact Julia Fazackerley at [email protected]
Last update February 2020