PROFESSIONALS working with prisoners, ex-prisoners or those sentenced to community punishments in the region have been presented with awards.

The North-East Prison After Care Society awards have been running since 2004 and last year were renamed in honour of long standing patron Ruth Cranfield who had the vision and energy to organise the charity to help those working in the criminal justice system.

This year’s awards and certificates were presented by Dr Jo Farrar, chief executive of HM Prison and Probation Service at an event on Wednesday at Lumley Castle in Chester-le-Street.

The awards celebrated projects that support prisoners planning for release and afterwards, working with agencies to help promote purposeful and communal activity and build self-belief, helping them to re-establish themselves outside prison, securing accommodation, work and positive family relationships.

The five main awards this year were presented to: Joe Howard, senior probation officer and court manager at Teesside Courts; Peter Grant, outreach worker, Junction 42 Foundation; Mark Davies, volunteer community peer leader, Durham Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner; Graeme Jones, Bike Workshop instructor at HMP Deerbolt and HMP Holme House Mental Health Team.

Helen Attewell, chief executive of Nepacs, said: “All of our winners and recipients of certificates have gone the extra mile to help support a positive future for their clients and offer hope for the future.”