A repeat offender has put a lifetime of offending behind him thanks to an intensive rehabilitation programme by the Bedfordshire Integrated Offender Management team. This multi-agency team works to reduce crime by the county’s most prolific offenders and consists of professionals from Bedfordshire Police, BeNCH Community Rehabilitation Company, National Probation Service and partners.
Discovered by the Police in a rubbish bin when he was just six months old, Steve* has fought an uphill battle to lead a regular, law-abiding life – what most people would term ‘normal’.
After spending his early childhood with a good foster family, the placement broke down due to a death in the family. 12-year-old Steve suddenly found himself in a children’s home separated from the people and the home that he loved.
It was a brutal environment and pretty quickly Steve was pressured into committing petty crime, anti-social behaviour and taking drugs. By the time he was 15, Steve’s behaviour had deteriorated so badly he found himself in a secure juvenile unit and thus a life behind bars began.
Steve’s next 20 years were spent either in prison, committing crime in the community or on the run. He became involved in progressively more serious crime, including burglary, car crime and other drug related offences.
In 2011 Steve found himself in custody for yet another burglary. He was looking at another long stretch in prison and desperately trying to find a way to put an end to the life of drugs and crime he had been leading for so long.
It was at this point he was offered the opportunity to participate in a pioneering programme overseen by Luton Crown Court and managed by the Bedfordshire Integrated Offender Management team. This multi-agency team specialises in the rehabilitation of repeat offenders by tackling the underlying causes of their criminal behaviour: e.g. drugs, homelessness and unemployment.
The programme is called ‘Prolific Intensive’. To enter the programme, Steve had to admit to all crimes he had committed which he had never been caught for. A GPS tracker was placed on Steve’s right ankle and he was released to begin a challenging three and half year Community Order. This included abiding to a curfew, completing 200 hours of unpaid work and having police and probation appointments at least once a week.
As well as complying with the requirements of the Community Order, the Integrated Offender Management team supported Steve to pursue a career and earn his own wage.
Steve took up a voluntary position with a local drug and alcohol charity and trained with them for two years. During which Steve gave up his own time to help others struggling with similar issues he had dealt with. He completed a diploma in this time and subsequently got a full-time job working for a charity with young men who have complex issues affecting their education and employment and who are often involved in substance abuse.
Now, nearly four years on Steve has finally completed the Prolific Intensive programme. He is a free man for the first time in almost 25 years. Steve has rebuilt his life and is drug free, crime free, has a good job and a stable family life. At his last review the Crown Court Judge said “This is a remarkable achievement – you are to be applauded and congratulated on what you have done. This programme is not easy and it is not for everyone. You have shown maturity, courage and determination”.
Steve realises the enormity of what he has accomplished; “On this occasion my actions have spoken louder than words. This has been a life changing journey for me to turn my back on crime and drugs. I have been so lucky to have professional people around me that have remained encouraging of positive change at every corner.”
Neil Moloney, Chief Executive of BeNCH Community Rehabilitation Company, met Steve to personally congratulate him on his success. Moloney said “Steve impressed me as someone now determined to help others either avoid or move away from a life of crime. His passion and energy are infectious”.
Since its inception in 2011, the IOM team has significantly reduced crime committed by adults under its supervision. For the year up to April 2015, 21% stopped offending resulting in 40% or 516 less crimes across the county. In particular, there was a 61% reduction in the number of residential burglaries committed by those managed by IOM.
Neill Waring, Chief Inspector at Bedfordshire Police, added “The key to IOM’s success is the exceptional partnership working between criminal justice agencies and support organisations. IOM deals with the fact that repeat offenders have multiple problems which can’t be addressed by one organisation alone; a co-ordinated approach is required to stop them committing crime and protect the public. Hopefully Steve can act as a role model for others in similar circumstances he found himself in.”
*not his real name.