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Think First
Information for Sentencers
What is Think First? Think First is a General Offending Groupwork Programme – one of several independently accredited programmes for use in England & Wales. Accredited Offending Behaviour programmes are part of the Probation Service’s What Works initiative, which aims to reduce general reconviction rates by providing types of supervision for offenders which are based on research and sound evidence. These approaches or ‘programmes’ are effective in changing the way offenders think and behave. Think First consists of: • 22 intensive groupwork sessions • 4 structured pre-group sessions and • up to 6 post-programme sessions. Who is it for? Think First is aimed at offenders within the medium /high risk of reconviction group because available evidence indicates that it is most effective with these groups. Programme content Think First is a cognitive skills programme, based on the premise that thinking is the basis of all behaviour, so in order to affect or change criminal behaviour the underlying thoughts and attitudes of offenders must be addressed. Research shows that many offenders have not acquired the skills of thinking in certain areas such as problem solving and critical reasoning. Offenders may not always see things from other people’s points of view and can also have a poorly developed sense of values. The ‘Think First’ programme aims to tackle: • Lack of problem solving skills – Often offenders do not recognise or anticipate problems or fail to consider alternative forms of action. This programme can challenge these rigid thought processes. The programme approaches problem solving as a skill which everyone can learn and which can be applied to different situations. It enables offenders to see how their behaviour often works to their own disadvantage in the long term, how it can harm their families and the victims of their crimes. • Poor social skills – A large proportion of offences either occur in groups or are perpetrated by groups acting together. Poor social skills often result in inappropriate behaviour which can be manifested in aggression, violence or hostility. The programme can teach the offender how to counter or resist pressure from others. • Poor personal control – Some offences appear to have been committed on impulse. When such offences are examined carefully, it is often possible to identify the thinking that allowed someone to behave in such a way. Think First can tackle these problems and teach selfmanagement skills to enable offenders to think about things differently. Diversity The National Probation Service recognises that women, minority ethnic offenders, those with a disability or other special needs may have additional issues. These issues will be fully addressed in order that they derive maximum benefit from Think First.
The programme is approved as an additional requirement of a Community Rehabilitation Order or a Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Order in accordance with the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. Supervision of the order will begin immediately and commencement of the groupwork programme will be with the first available place following appearance in court.

Attendance at the full programme, which includes the 22 groupwork sessions, four pre-group sessions and up to six postprogramme sessions is monitored in accordance with Home Office standards. Any breach of attendance or conditions will be dealt with appropriately and may see the offender returned to court.

National Probation Directorate

National Probation Service for England and Wales
This programme has been accredited by the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel (CSAP) for use in England and Wales (2000).


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