Each month, we support around 150 people in need of a helping hand as they go through the courts in Newton Abbot, Plymouth, Bodmin and Truro, and into life beyond.
Over the last 18 years, we’ve discovered a very real need for free, impartial, confidential and practical advice as people struggle through the legal system. The cuts to Legal Aid have left many people without anyone to speak up for them. Although we're not in a position to give legal advice, our specialist knowledge can make the process so much smoother and less traumatic.
We're in a unique position to reach out - our service is based right inside the Magistrates' Courts in Newton Abbot, Plymouth, Bodmin and Truro. We make sure that we are the anchor and link in a complicated chain of agencies. Many of the people who come through our door are caught in a cycle of low-level offences which are often a result of ongoing debt, housing, unemployment, alcohol problems, and mental health needs. At court, these low-level offences may seem minor when compared to other, higher risk cases, but for that person, it is definitely not minor. This crisis affects every aspect of their life – it is a terrifying moment when they realise that they could lose everything.
We never turn anyone away. Each person has a different story to tell.
It would be superficial to look at the crime, because there’s always a history and conversation underneath what we see. We frequently work with poverty and mental health. We create a safe space where emotional and practical needs are addressed, helping with a range of issues, from accommodation and addiction to benefits and debt; and from domestic abuse to employment and health.
75% of the people who come through the courts receive fines and conditional discharges. Unfortunately, this kind of situation takes up a lot of the criminal justice system’s resources. Without the right intervention, people can end up returning to court – latest figures show that over 40% of the fines imposed are outstanding 18 months after they are made and 33.5% of those receiving a conditional discharge re-offend within a year. This is why CASS+ needs to be at court to find ways to prevent this cycle.
These are the people we work with:
We don’t do anything in isolation. The courts know and value us for our track record. Our expert advisers collaborate with broad networks, both within and outside of criminal justice, to get people the specialist help they need. We are able to work flexibly with anyone who needs us because we understand the landscape of the criminal justice system and the many solutions available. We reduce the risk of re-offending and improve wellbeing by being here for people at their time of need.
Practical, impartial & confidential advice; emotional support at time of crisis; counselling; referrals; ongoing assistance; finding creative solutions and access to answers; partnerships with key agencies like social services, probation, solicitors and many charities across Devon and Cornwall; and fundraising.