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Working with the Criminal Justice System

There are strong links between gambling and crime, whether crime is committed to support gambling or to pay off gambling debts.

Prisoners are also vulnerable regarding high levels of mental health needs, clinical co-morbidity and addictive disorders, including problem gambling. Research studies have consistently found that prison populations are more vulnerable than the general population to problem and pathological gambling.

Two of the three key objectives of the UK Gambling Act 2005 are:

  • Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

Despite being prohibited, gambling is a significant part of prison subculture. The consequences of gambling within prisons can be severe, yet gambling problems among offenders largely go unrecognised and untreated.

It is, therefore, important that those who work within the prison and probation services are aware not only of the prevalence and nature of gambling problems in prisons but also the implications of a lack of accessible support or treatment options for those who are problem or high risk gamblers.

Ensuring that prisoners have access to the right support around problem gambling aims to reduce gambling-related harm for individuals and communities, including when prisoners are released.

What is GamCare doing?

Information about the National Gambling HelpLine has been distributed to all 123 prisons in England and Wales, and GamCare and our Partners have delivered face-to-face counselling sessions to 96 prisoners at three prisons across the UK. We are currently working at HMP Highpoint (Suffolk), HMP Thorn Cross (Cheshire) and HMP Lewes (Suffolk) and have recently extended our service over to HMP Isle of Man.

Read about our work with Beacon Counselling Trust and Cheshire Police here.

We are also working with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire to provide a range of bespoke services for the criminal justice system – more information available here.

We have a forum page dedicated for use by people within the Criminal Justice System. If you would like to speak to individuals with similar experience to you, you can find the forum page here.

Read our most recent blog post on the topic here.

For information about our work with the Criminal Justice system, contact Jenny Brace at [email protected]

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