Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice

DELPHINE DUFF (London CRC)

DELPHINE DUFF (London CRC)

COMMENDEE 2016-17: Delphine, an Operations Manager with London CRC, is Commended for her work in developing partnerships and services to help tackle gang-related crime, and support young people involved with or affected by gangs.

Delphine Duff works for the London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) as Operations Manager for the Young Adults and Gangs Unit. It’s a high profile and extremely complex issue, and Delphine’s depth of research-led expertise, and gift for forging multi-agency partnerships, is making a real difference to offenders and to those at risk, as well as the wider community.

In recent research, around half of young Londoners report that gangs, or groups hanging around, make them feel least safe in London – and over one in ten questioned said they had felt under pressure to join a gang. The often tragic consequences make the news with depressing regularity.

But Delphine, who was also a Butler Trust Winner in 2011 for her contribution to tackling gun and gang crime, is a great believer in more holistic interventions making a difference, says her nominator, Andrew Hillas, Assistant Chief Officer and Head of the 18 to 25 year old cohort at London CRC. He talks of her bringing an “enviable wealth of knowledge about issues affecting young people and gang influences on offending.” She also has “a particularly good understanding of the complexities of offending and disproportionality in the Black Minority Ethnic (BME) population and uses this to help support probation frontline staff.”

Delphine is strongly committed to collaborative approaches, too, and “frequently goes above what is expected of her in her role to develop partnerships to share intelligence.” Among many recent achievements, she set up a successful voluntary group to help Feltham’s young offenders prepare for employment and has delivered gang awareness briefings to secondary schools. “Well known and respected for her knowledge and experience around gangs and young people’s offending, she is frequently approached for help and advice which she offers willingly, and often in her own time.” Andrew calls Delphine “an inspirational team member and a great asset to London CRC and the partner organisations she works with.”

Arthur Leathley, Butler Trust Local Champion and Communications Director at the London CRC, notes that Delphine coined the term Serious Group Offending (SGO) to, in her words, “enable more constructive conversations with young people about the influence of group membership on their crimes, rather than using the more emotive term ‘gang’.”

Appointed to set up and lead London CRC’s SGO unit, it became a hub of expertise for internal staff, for prisons, and for the police and other agencies needing intelligence and advice on London gangs. Achievements include linking with Trident (the Metropolitan Police’s anti-gangs unit), forging relationships with prisons to track gang-affiliated offenders leaving custody, and engaging relevant community organisation.

Delphine was also responsible for devising London CRC’s Exit programme, a multi-agency alternative to custody for gang affiliated young people, which won a Howard League ‘Promising New Initiatives Award’ in 2014. And the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) engaged Delphine recently to develop very positively received gangs awareness training for prison staff.

In short, “Delphine’s wealth of knowledge in the fields of gang crime, BME and young adult offending is second to none, and she is seen as a well respected source of information in these areas.” Indeed, reports Arthur, “she is regularly asked for advice by House of Commons Select Committees and by TV companies exploring story lines.”

A highly skilled networker, Delphine’s close working relationships with a wide range of organisations have helped deliver better access, shared knowledge and best practice, helped co-deliver offender interventions, and increased awareness of gang related crime within the community.

Marcia Samuels, Chief Executive from partner New Choices for Youth Trust says, “Delphine has an exceptional ability to connect organisations that may not know each other to help strengthen the impact that each has [and her] energy, enthusiasm and tenacious approach to her work is astounding. She is highly respected by her team and other probation colleagues.” Marcia adds, “Delphine’s creative and open minded approach enables her to effectively engage community and voluntary sector organisations to work together to improve outcomes for young people. Her work has helped offenders move away from a life of crime.”

Delphine’s links with universities and passion for research-led interventions have also helped encouraged London CRC staff and partners consider subjects like emotional maturity, vulnerability, and empowerment when planning interventions.

Jennifer McDermott, CEO of the Cassandra Learning Centre, adds, “Delphine works with some of the most vulnerable, disregarded and disengaged members of our community. They are the ones that you read about in the national and local news and hope that they live nowhere near you. The work that she does is nothing short of amazing. She does what most are too frightened to do. And she does it staggeringly well. Delphine clearly genuinely loves the work she does and believes that things can be turned around for the better. Her optimism is contagious and so are her talks. You leave feeling like you have drunk two red bulls and you have wings!”

Andrew Brown, CEO at Elevating Success, says Delphine “goes above and beyond in whatever is expected of her and she constantly puts her full effort, time and attention into any project she runs.” Natasha Gibbens of HMP Wandsworth describes the Serious Group Offending training Delphine delivered as “very helpful and informative. I am confident that I can take my learning back into my work in the prison.”

In short, Delphine is London CRC’s “go to person” for gangs and young adult offending issues, adds Andrew, and “her commitment to ensuring young adult offenders have a positive experience of probation is formidable, and she sets a strong example for her team to emulate.”

Helga Swidenbank, Director of Probation at London CRC, agrees, saying Delphine’s knowledge of offending triggers in this group “is second to none.” Helga also notes that “we received so many testimonials that we haven’t been able to include them all”, which shows “how well respected she is!”

Delphine herself reports that following the 2011 London riots, and based on her work, she was asked to join the Home Office’s Peer Review Team looking at approaches to serious youth and gang violence across the capital.

Delphine recently set up a referral centre to support London’s Gang Exit programme, and the numbers are impressive. “My unit has assessed 454 referrals from a range of professionals including teachers, police officers, care workers and prison staff. Using their expert knowledge and the referral criteria I devised, my team has assessed 158 of these as being suitable for inclusion on the programme.”

Another important part of her work, says Delphine, “is recognising the need to support probation staff who are working with SGO issues. I’ve played a major role in helping the organisation access local services to help staff affected by the issues they are dealing with. I’ve also given advice and support to those who have been personally affected by gang-related crime. My colleagues and I also provide regular training for staff on how best to work with young offenders, encouraging them to adapt their approach to meet the emotional maturity of this cohort. We also advise them how to manage risk, particularly when making home visits to gang-affiliated offenders.”

“Gang activity across London is fluid and fast moving,” says Delphine. We need to bring the best people we can to bear on the problem, and Delphine is very clearly one of them.

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