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Newsletter issue 5 – October 2021

This fifth newsletter highlights work to support the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms and includes a focus on gambling harms and the criminal justice system.

Update on Implementation Actions

Earlier this summer, partners across the National Strategy shared progress and activities delivered up to April 2021 in the online implementation Actions Map, and ABSG published their progress report on the second year since the Strategy’s launch.

The Gambling Commission will shortly contact stakeholders named in the Actions Map to invite updates on activities and progress up to the end of September (Q2).

Moving the Actions Map to a digital version has improved usability and given us more flexibility to add and update projects and functions. If you would like to add projects or activities supporting the National Strategy to the Actions Map, please contact safergambling@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

Update on Research to inform actions

PHE Gambling-related harms evidence review published

On 30 September, Public Health England published their evidence review on the health aspects of gambling-related harm. The review, which was announced by DCMS in 2018, estimates that the harms associated with gambling cost at least £1.27 billion in 2019 to 2020 in England alone. The review also shows that people at risk of gambling harms are concentrated in areas of higher deprivation, highlights the link between gambling and mental health issues and shows that gender and poor mental health are the strongest indicators of gambling related harm.

Greo Prevention and Education evidence review

In support of the National Strategy, Greo has published the Prevention and Education Review: Gambling-Related Harm. This peer-reviewed report is the outcome of an international collaboration of top gambling experts. The report provides a new and up-to-date evidence base for policies, programs, and practices that aim to reduce gambling harms through prevention and education at the universal, selective and indicated levels of intervention.  

Topics in the report include regulatory restrictions; population-based safer gambling messaging and tools; targeted safer gambling messaging (children, youth, older adults); brief interventions for prevention, early intervention, and harm reduction; and systems and tools that limit access to gambling and/or funds.

Behavioural Insights Team Gambling Policy and Research Unit

Since 2017, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) has worked with banks, gambling operators and other researchers to develop our collective understanding of how behavioural insights can help to reduce gambling harms. So far their work has tested: 

BIT has now launched a Gambling Policy and Research Unit to partner with stakeholders on ensuring regulation can effectively reduce gambling harms, through developing and testing methods and approaches. This work, funded by Social Responsibility Funds, will help accelerate the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms and provide beneficial insights to all partners.

Glasgow Summit on tackling gambling harms

The “Gambling Summit: Tackling Gambling Harms in the New Normal” was hosted virtually on 13 and 14 September 2021 by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Public Health Network (ScotPHN). The event was funded by regulatory settlement funding, to support work to deliver the National Strategy in Scotland. The Summit sought to explore emergent research, best practice and to highlight local and national efforts needed to rebuild systems and services as a result of COVID-19, in order to deliver a public health response to gambling harms. 

Speakers included the Scottish Government, Scottish Public Health Network, Glasgow City Council, and the Gambling Commission. Workshops covered topics such as treatment and support, community engagement, lived experience of gambling harms, suicide prevention and evaluating interventions. The full programme is available to view and conference organisers will be making available the materials from the event. Anyone interested in receiving this information should contact gamblingsummit@glasgow.gov.uk.

Gambling harms and the criminal justice system

Even before the National Strategy’s launch, partners such as treatment providers have been exploring the links between gambling harm and crime and criminality, and providing support to service users and practitioners. Since the National Strategy was published, a number of projects have been funded by regulatory settlements (payments in lieu of penalties for regulatory failings) to explore and address this issue further, some of which are highlighted here.

Howard League for Penal Reform Independent Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling

The Howard League’s Independent Commission has been active for more than two years, during which they have published a literature review, called for evidence and held nine evidence sessions and made a submission to the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005

Four Research Commissions are in progress: sentencers’ understanding and treatment of problem gamblers, and three projects exploring people’s lived experiences of crime and problem gambling. These include focused projects on the lived experience of women and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Further details of these research commissions are available on the Howard League website.

GamCare

GamCare has been working with the criminal justice system for a number of years, including a two-year pilot with Hertfordshire Police to explore and introduce screening for gambling harms at key points within the criminal justice system and identify ways to offer and deliver support. 

Gambling harms have long been under-recognised across the UK criminal justice system and support for those affected has been underfunded to date. GamCare has received two years’ funding to scale up delivery of its program to raise awareness and develop pathways to provide support for people experiencing gambling harms across the criminal justice system.
 

Beacon Counselling Trust

In 2020 Beacon Counselling Trust worked with five police forces in the North West of England to support coordination of problem gambling screening activity in custody suites. Beacon have now received funding via the Social Responsibility Funds to support the next phase of this project to develop a sustainable implementation model. Beacon will work with Police forces in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Midlands, Cumbria, Manchester and Cheshire over approximately three years to develop a model that will be suitable for roll out nationally.  

Through the evidence generated and evaluated by Greo, this work will deliver outcomes to help shape modelling for future national commissioning.  

The project includes recruiting and developing key partnerships and materials and commencing training sessions with police and a wide variety of criminal justice professionals. Training will uniformly utilise the new OFQUAL Level 2 ‘Bet you can help’ RSPH accredited course.

Forward Trust

The Forward Trust offers services in prisons and the community to help break the cycle of addiction and criminality. Last summer they carried out a survey in 14 prisons across England and Wales to understand prisoners’ experience of gambling, gambling harms and the impact of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The survey found that 23 percent of prisoners reported gambling problems and over half of respondents thought support to address gambling harms should be offered in prisons. Forward Trust's full report was published in December 2020.

Reducing gambling harms hub and other resources 

The Reducing gambling harms hub is hosted on the Gambling Commission website and is a core source of information about the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. As well as the Strategy itself, the Hub is also the place to find out more about the stakeholders involved in delivering the Strategy, news items and previous editions of newsletters, information on the Strategy Implementation Groups for Wales and Scotland, the role of the Gambling Commission in reducing gambling harms and the implementation Actions Map. 

Greo provide resource hubs for stakeholders to support Research to inform action and Evaluation under the Strategy.

If you would like to share your own work to support the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms please contact safergambling@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

You can sign up to the newsletter here.

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