Video on Innovative,
Problem-Solving Courts

Report on the Symposium on Criminal Justice in Times of Change, 2016

Who we are

CASS+ is an independent charity providing advice and support to all who are attending Court or Tribunal hearings and their families.

The CASS team is trained to help people identify their needs for support and provide effective help in getting access, in confidence. We operate independently of other agencies.

The service is delivered primarily by trained volunteers and focuses mostly on those defendants who do not meet the threshold of probation or custody. We do however provide help to all who need it, not just those attending Court via our easy access drop in sites.

CASS+ also works with victims of crime identified as needing support by the Devon & Cornwall Police Service. We provide effective referrals to a group of partner organisations (members of the Safer Stronger Consortium) and others, who provide tailored help.

CASS will signpost and encourage clients to access a range of specialist agencies based in local communities and will support effective access in Plymouth and Cornwall.

Come in to see us, alternatively, you can e-mail our local office - Contact us...

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CASS+ News!

CASS+ has been to the Palace! And there's more!....

We are delighted to say that the work of CASS+ staff and volunteers is being recognised at the very top!

On the recommendation of local Magistrates, invitations were issued to CASS+ for our General Manager, Carole and husband (Associate Trustee and Secretary) Peter to attend the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 1st June. Shortly after receiving this invitation, we were advised that CASS+ has been granted the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service; we received two additional invitations to the garden party and so Debbie Mullis, our Cornwall Co-ordinator, and Kirby Baldwin, one of our longest service volunteers, went along too. And what a party!

Garden Party invitations are made in recognition of service to the community, which CASS+ has delivered for over 11 years now. Invitations are made to individuals and their spouses. The Queen's Award is the highest UK honour for voluntary service, and is described as the MBE for voluntary groups.

Of course, life is not all about play and in their trip to London, Carole and Peter included a visit to the Centre for Justice Innovation, a valuable supporter and mentor for CASS+. There is always something new to learn, and talking to friends can help enormously in providing new ideas and boosting morale. CASS+ is also now a model for others to follow; this visit included a meeting with volunteers who are creating a similar service in Snaresbrook Crown Court, East London.

For more information on the Queen's Award, click on the logo...


Symposium Report Published

We now have the summary report of the Symposium on Community Advice and the Criminal Justice System, published by Plymouth University. This follows the successful event at the University late last year, which explored the role of services like CASS+. The report can be seen by clicking on the link in the column to the left.

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Where we operate:

Plymouth Magistrates' Court

Telephone: (01752) 601 153 & 206 187
Mobile: 07949 455 158
E-mail Plymouth...

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday
9:30am to 4:30pm
Bodmin Magistrates' Court

Telephone: (01208) 78003
Mobile: 07949 455 443
E-mail Bodmin...

Opening Hours: Thursdays
9:30am to 4:30pm
Truro Magistrates' Court

Telephone: (01872) 274 104
Mobile: 07949 455 443
E-mail Truro...

Opening Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays
9:30am to 4:30pm

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What we do

CASS has developed expertise in assisting clients to work out what problems are most troubling them and in providing effective referrals to support services to address these problems - whatever they are. We do not 'diagnose' or 'prescribe'. We work with individuals to work out what is going to be most effective in sorting out the difficulties they are experiencing. Our motto is 'access to answers'.

CASS has five paid staff, who recruit, train and manage a team of approximately 20 volunteers. Our volunteers give their own time freely to help us perform our work and, over the years, have helped to shape the service and provided assistance to thousands of individuals and their families.

The Service focuses primarily but not exclusively on offenders and their families. County Courts and Tribunals are now co-located at Magistrates' Courts and we provide support for people attending these non-criminal hearings. Additionally, we are part of the Safer, Stronger Consortium in Cornwall that provides support and assistance to victims of crime.

We consider ourselves to be experts in providing a new kind of service. We assist our clients to work out what problems they have most difficulty with. We listen, understand, advise and support without judgement. We work with our clients to ensure they gain access to the services needed - whatever these might be - and we follow up as needed, so we keep on supporting our clients in improving their lives. Our aim is to increase our clients' abilities to help themselves.

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Our Trustees

Chair: Peter Hosegood

Peter is a retired Justice of the Peace from Cornwall. He enjoyed a career in electrical engineering and has experience of working with various charitable organisations.

Deputy Chair: Mary Anne McFarlane

Mary Anne was Chief Probation Officer for Devon & Cornwall until she retired from the service. She now works in private consultancy, advising on criminal justice matters around the world as well as in the UK.

Treasurer: Pat Walker

Pat is a retired Justice of the Peace from Cornwall. In addition to her criminal justice work she has extensive business experience in the hospitality industry.

Mike Thomas

Mike is a retired Justice of the Peace who was Chair of the Community Court Bench at Plymouth. He is a retired Head Teacher and works also as a Governor of two schools.

Tim Auburn

Tim is Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth. He has been closely associated with CASS for some years, involved in research to evaluate the benefits of the Service.

Non-Voting Trustee: Kim

Kim is an ex-Service user and currently works as a volunteer with the Service.

Associate Trustee - Peter Edwards

As Magistrates' Court Manager at Plymouth in the period 2003-2007, Peter was closely involved in the establishment of the CASS service. He has maintained involvement since retirement as a volunteer providing management advice and IT support.

The Trustees meet at least once every three months (usually more frequently) and make key decisions on the Strategy of CASS+, policy matters and business plans. They have a key role in making sure that CASS+ operates in a safe and ethical manner in accordance with our constitution.

Minutes of Trustees meetings are published here. (Parts of the Trustee's meetings that are confidential due to commercial or ethical considerations are not included.)

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The CASS Story to Date

CASS was introduced as an independent service at the Bodmin Magistrates' Court in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by the opening of a CASS desk at Plymouth Magistrates' Court. In 2012 the service extended to the Truro Magistrates' Court. Although we are based in Magistrates' Courts (and Tribunals), we can support people in Crown and County Courts too, if requested.

Originally conceived by Mary Anne McFarlane and supported strongly by the Probation Service, Magistrates' Courts Committee (now HMCTS) and Devon & Cornwall Police Service, CASS continues to work in partnership with these organisations and others. CASS depends on building strong relationships with organisations that provide support services in order to be able to refer clients for assistance.

CASS was sponsored in the first instance by the Prison Advice and Care Trust, our more recent sponsor was Rethink Mental Illness. We are grateful to both of these organisations for their past support. From April 2015, CASS was relaunched as a completely new, independent Charity - CASS+. We continue to operate much as before but with exciting potential to extend our work to other sites and to innovate.

Currently we are working with the University of Plymouth, the New Economics Foundation and the Centre for Justice Innovation to measure and further develop the effectiveness of our services.

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Our Partner Organisations

CASS+ works with a wide range of partners. Our work is valued by HM Courts and Tribunal Service which provides us with accommodation at each of the sites we operate. We work closely with the Police, Probation Service and others.

We spend considerable effort in establishing effective networks with providers of support services that are relevant to our clients. These are too many to mention here but they cover needs such as employment, alcohol and substance use, debt management, housing, counselling, physical health, etc etc.

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Volunteering with CASS+

Our service depends on our volunteers for our success. We provide training and support for all volunteers to ensure the quality of our work and the safety of all involved.

CASS provides a rich learning environment for volunteers - contributing to training in Social Work and other professions, or helping to build experience leading to paid employment. We are a recognised placement provider with the University of Plymouth and the Open University.

If you are interested in volunteering with CASS+, please contact your local office.

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We work to the standards of professionalism demanded by the Courts and Tribunal environment.

Our Trustees ensure that the governance standards of CASS+ are appropriate and properly applied.

We are committed to achieving the PQASSO Quality Standard established by the Charities Evaluation Services (now part of the NCVO) and most of all, to providing the quality service that our clients need and deserve.

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Funding for CASS+

CASS+ is currently supported by a grant giving charity. We are immensely grateful for this as without it the Service would not exist. We are at present seeking funds from various sources to ensure that we can continue into the future. Donations to support our work are most welcome! We do receive additional funds at present from the Office of Police & Crime Commissioner for our Victim Care work and also from the National Lottery/Cabinet Office for development project work which will be completed in 2017.

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