RMA Blog: Meet the New Board Members
In March 2021, the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf MSP, announced the appointment of Jim Farish and Dr Joe Judge as Members of the RMA Board. We are delighted to welcome Jim and Joe to the RMA team and took this opportunity to chat to them about what attracted them to the organisation, and hopes for the future.
Tell us a bit about your background…
JIM FARISH (JF): On leaving college in 1981 I embarked on a career in the construction industry. I initially worked within a Local Authority eventually moving into the private sector, working within the construction supplies and support environment. During this time I continued my education by undertaking an Open University degree course, graduating with a BSc in 1996.
Whilst I enjoyed my working life I always felt that something was missing and this led me to looking for an alternative career. In 2002 I successfully applied to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), joining as direct entry senior manager. During my 18 year career I undertook a range of roles within the SPS, ultimately being promoted twice and was privileged to have been the Governor in Charge of four establishments as well as spending three years seconded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland as Deputy Chief Inspector.
JOE JUDGE (JJ): My professional background is as a Clinical Psychologist. I have worked in a range of forensic and non-forensic mental health settings throughout my career and am particularly interested in working therapeutically with people who have offended. I have done some further training in Cognitive Analytic Therapy which I find useful in helping me to think with and about people psychologically. Outside of work, I have a very busy life with four young children who keep me on my toes.
What drew you to the RMA?
JF: I have a strongly held belief that with the correct assessment and support all individuals have something positive to contribute to wider society. Often those that find themselves in prison do not believe that they have anything to offer and are damned to live their lives as they lived them to date. Appropriate assessment and support within custody and beyond is essential, and I see the RMA as having a key part to play in assessing the needs of those most troubled and from that assessment a plan can be developed for them to engage with their offending, in a manner that allows them the insight and self-awareness to understand how they can contribute in a positive manner. I was also drawn to this opportunity as I believe that with my experience within the prison system I can assist the RMA in understanding the SPS in a manner that facilitates a strong and productive relationship with common aims, goals and approaches that increase the chances for successful outcomes.
JJ: Anyone I’ve known who has worked for, or with, the RMA has raved about it and recommended it as a great organisation to be part of. I have spent almost my entire career working in the NHS as a practising clinician, assessing and managing risk in various contexts, and I felt that I would have something useful to offer the RMA from that perspective. I am also looking forward to working outside of the NHS and in a different role, as a board member, working at a more strategic level.
What do you hope the RMA will achieve over the next five years?
JF: This is a difficult one, in general terms I would hope that over the next five years that the general public will have a greater awareness of the role that the RMA plays in making Scotland a safer place to live. If more of the public and indeed criminal justice practitioners understand what the RMA does and how it adds value, the more individuals will want to engage with it. I would also like to see the relationship between the SPS, Criminal Justice Social Work and the RMA become one where developments are undertaken in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and partnership.
JJ: I have been really impressed by the work that has already happened at the RMA and I hope that over the next five years we can continue to build on that. When I started working in forensic mental health, the RMA was recognised internationally as an organisation that is leading the way on assessment and management of risk and I would like to see that reputation strengthened and underlined. I think that the way this will be achieved is by delivering on the core aim of setting the standard of risk practice to reduce offending and the harm that it causes.