In the summer 2018, a Chief Inspector at Essex Police was invited to Wilkin & Sons Jam Factory to discuss involvement with Essex Police’s Business Crime work. During the visit, a number of issues were raised with regards to criminal and antisocial behaviour at the factory premises. Some of the issues were addressed by the Crime Prevention Team, who offered advice and attempts to deter what happened. When the issues of criminal damage, vandalism and youths being involved in antisocial behaviour were brought up, Essex Restorative and Mediation Service (ERMS) was recommended as the best method to address the issues. Following their visit, Daniel Waskett (Farm Administrator) contacted ERMS for assistance. Over the last few years, Wilkins & Sons have been a victim of criminal damage and vandalism, breaking and entering and burglary. Unfortunately, there was insufficient evidence to investigate the matter further and no offenders were identified, leaving the factory feeling frustration over the inability to gain justice and having to cover financial losses totalling over £15,000. One of the factory’s main concerns were that that young people would continue to come back and cause further, ongoing damage. Wilkin & Sons asked for some form of intervention to reduce the risk of further criminal damage caused and reduce the amount of incidents of breaking and entering to the factory premises and, after discussing with other professionals, the following outcomes were identified:
- Ability to demonstrate an understanding of Restorative Justice practice
- Ability to identify and practice Restorative Justice approaches
- Development of conflict resolution skills
- Understanding of victim awareness and ability to identify one’s perspective
- Understanding of the importance of maintaining a good relationship between the Tiptree Jam Factory and the local community
- Understanding of how the factory operates and the risk associated with breaking in.
First project edition 2019
Following a year of preparations, the first project was delivered in October 2019 at Thurstable school, inviting over 200 students from Year 10 to participate. You can read more about 2019 project on the PFCC website by clicking on the link here.
Second project edition 2023
The first edition of the project was found to be a significant success, decreasing the number of crime and ASB incidents from almost weekly to occasional visits from slightly older groups using the sheltered area during the cold weather. The 2019 project edition also received positive feedback from both students and partners involved. It seems like the project target range exceeded expectations (initially, it was planned to re-run the project annually, but it was not needed until 2023). In late 2022, partners met to discuss the possibility of re-running the project. The crime rates and ASB incidents amongst young people in the Tiptree area had started to rise again. A discussion about the utility of a second edition of the project took place and it was agreed that, after implementing ideas for changes from the first edition, the project should be repeated to strengthen the relationship between the Wilkin & Sons factory and the local community, provide restorative and conflict resolution awareness sessions and explain the consequences of criminal behaviour from a police perspective.
After Wilkin & Sons Jam Factory reached out to Essex Restorative & Mediation Service (ERMS) in the autumn 2022, two partners were able to discuss incidents which had occurred since 2019 and the slow increase of incidents since summer 2022. The idea emerged to re-run the project and each partner agreed to reach out to other partners to establish potential engagement and willingness to take part in the project again.
First partners meeting took place on 26th November 2022 where the following partners attended:
- Wilkin & Sons Marketing, Security and Farm Coordinator
- Two Essex Police officers from the Child & Young Persons unit
- Thurstable School Safeguarding Lead
- Essex Restorative & Mediation Service Coordinator
The first meeting reviewed how each organisation had managed increased concerns about local ASB incidents during the last three years. Partners also factored in the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on each partners’ organisational needs. Partners discussed potential new ideas, best ways to deliver the project in terms of time of the year and the aims and objectives of the project. All project partners were in agreement of running the project again, remembering the positive impact the project made in it’s first edition. Partners divided tasks between themselves and agreed to meet in a few months’ time to discuss project details and logistical procedures. It was agreed that the best time to run the project would be May 2023 as it fits with the school exam period where students would be most susceptible to learn something new and for the factory – May seems to be more of a quieter period between the busy seasonal periods. The second partners meeting took place on 2nd March 2023 which focused on details of the project. Partners discussed each session within the workshop to ensure the most appropriate content is delivered which would make the most positive impact. Partners also discussed logistics needed to run the project smoothly (parents’ consent, travelling in/from school, number of professionals needed to be allocated from each organisation to look after the groups, training materials, etc). Partners also discussed how the project will be evaluated against the objectives set and any potential publicity emerging from the project outcome. A final partners meeting took place on 4th May to run through the project details together and to troubleshoot any difficulties that might have arisen at a short notice.
Project sessions – overview
After six months of careful planning, a restorative approaches programme was written and delivered to all Year 10 pupils at the local school. In total, over 200 students took part in the workshops. The programme was delivered across two days (100 students per day) and each day was split into three groups. Each group had between 29 – 34 students. We visited Wilkin & Sons Jam Factory and Thurstable School beforehand to ensure validity of the course and ensure the content is relevant to what is expected from ERMS. Given the age of the students, the workshops had to be designed so the students would understand Restorative Justice approaches in the most comprehensive way. As it may be an emotive subject, a number of exercises and activities were planned to help students focus their attention while still learning from the activities introduced. Together, we designed comprehensive sessions ensuring the aims of the project were met. Each group received a complete set of three sessions although the order of which the sessions were delivered was counterbalanced to ensure the logistics and the timescale of the workshops would be maintained. Each group included two RJ facilitators and one teacher/teaching assistant. Each session will be discussed in more detail below. Each session took 90 min to deliver (including travel time).
Session one – Introduction to Restorative Justice & Mediation
The first session was delivered in class and focused on introducing the concept of Restorative Justice and an ability to look at the same issues from different perspectives. One of the exercises facilitated showed that students not only enjoyed the exercises but also learnt that although we all start with the same base, we don’t all have the same results and one’s instructions are subject to their own interpretation. The first session also helped identify what makes a good relationship in general and why it is important to have a good relationship with the Jam Factory. The session also looked at the idea of community and the importance of maintaining a good relationship with community members. Students heard a recorded talk from a young speaker describing what a good community looks like and the consequences if that relationship breaks down. By the end of the session, students were introduced to 5 core restorative questions and how we can use them in everyday life. Students then practised using five restorative questions in the classroom setting.
Session two – Conflict Resolution Skills
The second session was also delivered in class. This session focused on conflict management and the role of conflict in our lives. Concepts of conflict was explained, and students learnt that when we have a difference of opinion, we often go into our discussions with a win/lose mentality (‘in order for me to win, they have to lose’ or ‘if they win, I lose’) but students learnt that this approach doesn’t lead to a useful outcome. By working together, we can find a compromise and that way, everyone can be a winner even if it’s not how they expected. Students also learnt how easy is to make assumptions about others and how easily this can lead to a difference of opinions or more dangerous outcomes. Trained RJ facilitators who delivered this session explained to students that sometimes we make assumptions that our actions don’t cause harm (such as ‘the Tiptree farm won’t notice if we steal a couple of strawberries’ or ‘swimming in the reservoir doesn’t hurt anyone’) but in effect, those assumptions are wrong and can cause a significant impact on the people around us. Finally, students were taught how to structure their needs in a more positive way to ensure they feel heard which leads to a more meaningful conversations and achieving a desired outcome.
Session three – Wilkin & Sons Jam Factory tour
The third session was delivered at the farm. Students were transported in vans to the farm located just a few minutes drive from the school premises. On arrival, students got into a trailer and were greeted by the Farm Manager and accompanied by two police officers from the Child & Young Persons unit. The tour lasted around 50 minutes during which students were taught about the farm, fruits grown and manufacturing process. They also learnt the significance of being part of Tiptree which is known worldwide for their famous products. Whilst visiting different sites of the farm, the dangers of the farm if broken into without consent were explained to students. They were told about life threatening enormous pumps installed at the bottom of the reservoir which can drag irresponsible swimmers under the water. They were also advised about the environmental consequences for antisocial behaviour such as BBQs on the farm near the crops. Two police officers who joined the tour spoke about the criminal consequences of anti-social behaviour and warned students that such incidents will not be tolerated. They explained what happens after a suspect is charged with criminal damage, arson or antisocial behaviour offences and what future implications they might have, including inability to secure a well-paid job roles which require police security check as part of their recruitment. By the end of the second session and as part of the feedback, students were asked to write two things they have learnt from today. Full students’ evaluations have been explained below.
This project was evaluated from two perspectives: a comprehensive students’ evaluation feedback using qualitative thematic analysis and the feedback obtained from partners and professionals involved in the project delivery.
Following completion of the third session, students were asked to write two things they had learnt from the day. We received a total of 276 responses from across the six student groups. Student feedback was analysed using thematic analysis to identify themes and patterns within the responses. First, the responses were analysed and reviewed to increase familiarity with the data, before the responses were examined to identify initial codes. Once initial codes for all responses had been completed, patterns amongst the codes were identified to group similar responses together and generate themes. The themes were then reviewed, before the themes were defined and named. Four main themes emerged from the students’ feedback, which were: Wilkin & Sons Jam Factory, Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, Community, and Future Thinking. A fifth miscellaneous theme was also identified, but was excluded from further analysis as the responses in this category were unrelated to the project and the sessions that had been delivered. The distribution of responses across the themes is displayed below.
Theme 1: Wilkin & Sons Jam Factory
There were a total of 83 responses related to the Wilkin & Sons Factory which included references to the factory itself, farm produce, and the direct impact of criminal and/or antisocial behaviour on the factory. A number of students reported that they had not realised how large the farm was, with many students referencing the farm being “as large as 660 football pitches”. Others were unaware of the scale of production at the farm and even learnt that little scarlet strawberries are only grown in Tiptree in the UK. Students reported learning about the significant financial impacts of criminal and antisocial behaviour on the factory, as well as the risks of harm posed to individuals who choose to trespass due to farm machinery and other hazards.
Theme 2: Essex Restorative and Mediation Service
A fifth of responses (56) related to the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, and primarily included references to having a greater understanding of what restorative justice and mediation are, and how these processes can be used. For example, one student wrote “mediators are very helpful in resolving conflict”. Responses in this theme also indicated that students had learnt about the qualities and skills needed to be a good restorative justice facilitator or mediator such as “listening” and “communication” skills.
Theme 3: Community
Although Community represented the smallest theme and only 4% (11) of responses overall, the presence of this theme amongst student feedback demonstrates the impact of session one on their thoughts and feelings towards their local community. Students reported learning about the value of community and how “community can be more important than you know”. Responses also indicated a greater awareness of the impact of conflict on the wider community, with one student writing “damage to one damages the whole community”.
Theme 4: Future Thinking
The largest theme was Future Thinking with 108 responses overall. The responses in this category suggested that the lessons learnt during this project would impact on how the students would think and behave in the future, and could be further categorised into three groups: actions and consequences, conflict resolution, and assumptions. Responses in the actions and consequences category included references to having a greater understanding of the direct and indirect effects of criminal and antisocial behaviour on others. The conflict resolution category represents feedback relating to the importance of taking steps to resolve conflicts and dispute, and an awareness of “not every situation involves one winner and one loser”. The final category, assumptions, included responses about avoiding jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about others, and an increased awareness of the different ways in which people can interpret different situations.
Following completion of the project, a survey was created and populated amongst all professionals involved in project delivery from all four organisations: ERMS, Essex Police Thurstable school and Wilkin & Sons jam factory. In total, 18 professionals were asked to complete the survey online. Their responses are as follows:
- When asked to rate the overall experience during the project, 83% of respondents rated the project as extremely positive and 17% – as positive experience.
- When asked to rate the project partnership work, 90% of respondents rated the project as very good and 10% as good experience.
- When asked to rate whether the modules and sessions designed were adequate, 83% of respondents said that they were either very adequate or adequate, 17% said that were more or less adequate.
- Finally, when asked if partners would be interested in working on the same or similar project in the future, all of the respondents said that they would definitely like to work together again.
One of the final survey questions was for all professionals involved to describe the project design, implementation and delivery with one word. The word map below reflects most common answers given.
This is what PC Baker from Essex Police had to say about participating in this project:
“We are proud to be a part of this collaborative piece of work between four partner agencies, to educate and hopefully prevent crime and ASB in the local community. We look forward to repeating it again in the future.”
Finally, partners were asked to identify what they liked most about the project and suggest any areas for future development. Future development is discussed in more details in the next section but the summary of responses given has been shown below.
Future development & ideas
On 22nd May 2023, a week after the workshop was delivered, partners met again to discuss project outcomes and evaluate the project’s immediate findings. Future development and future ideas were discussed as part of the meeting.
As part of the project debrief meetings, partners discussed future ideas should the project run again. Some ideas involved inviting other business partners in the area, experiencing similar level of ASB incidents from local youth. Other ideas included amendments to the format, content and delivery of the project.
Partners also discussed the future development of the project if organised again. Given the number of facilitators allocated to deliver the sessions (eight facilitators in total), should the project be repeated and expanded the PFCC will consider resourcing and costing implications. Partners also discussed the potential frequency of the project delivery, taking staff implications and students curriculum under consideration. In was agreed that should this project be repeated, effectiveness of the project can be enhanced by doing it every two or three years in order achieve most satisfied outcomes without putting each organisation under too much pressure for organising and facilitating the workshops.
“We were delighted to recently host the youth officer team from Essex police, RJ mediation service and 200 pupils and staff from Thurstable school. It was an excellent opportunity to connect with the Police, mediators, and local children where they had the opportunity to learn directly about the consequences of actions and many of the challenges which business face.”
– Chris Newenham, Joint Managing Director of Wilkin & Sons Tiptree