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Howard League blog · 27 May 2020

Community Awards and the conception of the Howard League’s Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling

I am pleased to introduce a guest blog by Neil Platt explaining how winning a Community Award was the starting-point for the conception of the Howard League’s ground-breaking Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling.  

Winning the ‘Policing and Adults’ category in the 2017 Howard League Community Awards was an extremely proud moment for Beacon Counselling Trust and our primary delivery partners, Cheshire Police and GamCare. Each of us sees these national awards as very prestigious, and for our work to be recognised in this way was a significant achievement for all.

Since winning the award, we have felt a real increase in our credibility. This has not only given us, and our partners, an additional level of confidence in promoting the benefits of our model; it has facilitated so many opportunities through the Howard League criminal justice network to begin conversations about an issue that affects society as a whole.

In a much shorter timescale than would otherwise have been possible, we have been able to share, publicise and promote the project and develop relationships with other police forces and key partners, across a much wider footprint. To date, this has enabled us to extend the approach with police forces in West Midlands, Merseyside, Lancashire, and Greater Manchester, with plans to move the model into Wales and Scotland.

Additionally, we have recently agreed funding with the Gambling Commission to develop the approach under a ‘test and learn’ model. The plan is that this will lead potentially to implementing the model in police forces nationwide.

Winning the award has enabled us to showcase the role that police forces can play in engaging with the root causes of gambling-related crime

The Cheshire project has brought together a wide variety of agencies from the private and third sectors within criminal justice, alongside experts in the field of treatment for people experiencing gambling-related harm. By helping to facilitate recovery and reduce crime, it is contributing to how we shape problem gambling treatment services within criminal justice in the UK.

Winning the award has enabled us to showcase the role that police forces can play in helping to engage with the root causes of gambling-related criminality and demonstrate a model of best practice.

Through our custody suite work, we now have a small but solid evidence base that shows the relationships between problem gambling and criminality. Our project is enabling productive conversations with the Gambling Commission and government, that will, in time, influence sector policy.

The national attention that came with the award has contributed to a change in attitudes at government level, with funding for more robust research into the subject of gambling and criminality. We have been able to foster a desire to support those affected by gambling-related harm who enter the criminal justice system.

Last but not least, winning the award was the starting-point for the conception of the Howard League’s ground-breaking Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling, which began its work last year.

Neil Platt, Clinical Director, Beacon Counselling Trust
Commissioner, The Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling


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