Yesterday I accompanied two other Parish Councillors on my first visit to the Approved Premises within the Parish.
The Approved Premises is the new name for what is generally referred to as the Bail Hostel, although actually nowadays the residents are mainly on licence rather than bail.
The location of the premises is not generally in the public domain so I will do nothing in this blog post to identify it. There has apparently been local short-lived concern on the odd occasion in previous years about it and I don’t won’t to stir up any concerns.
The premises have 16 residents at any time. It is located next door to residential occupiers on two sides.
The Manager is quite newly appointed although he has worked in the Probation Service in Milton Keynes for a long time.
The residents have a daily meeting at 10am for about 30 mins and then engage in project work which can help them reintegrate into the community and teach them life skills eg how to conduct a job interview, how to access housing.
There is an effective security regimen in the premises. All crimes are recorded however trivial. There is CCTV and searches.
Residents have to attend the probation office in central milton keynes, and are generally kept busy and apparently some rather prefer the lazy regime of prison.
All the residents have been assessed by the parole board as sufficiently low risk to return to the community. It was pointed out it was better to have people living under supervision than out in the community with no supervision at all.
The residents are coming from custody where they may have been imprisoned after being convicted of a full range of offences
There is close liaison with the police. Drug and alcohol testing is carried out randomly and if this is linked with offending behaviour might lead to a return to custody.
Overall I was impressed with the arrangements and I think local people have nothing to fear by the presence of the premises. There does not seem to be any evidence of a link with crime in the area and the premises, and if there was any, I am convinced it would be dealt with seriously. Releasing offenders under supervision is likely to increase public safety in fact.
It was good to establish links with the new manager and the Parish Council.