A ground breaking scheme aimed at supporting those with substance misuse issues, in a bid to reduce shoplifting has been shortlisted for an award.
The Offender to Rehab programme, supported by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, focuses on identifying people who have substance misuse issues and are prolific shoplifters and then aims to get them into rehab. The scheme deals with the root cause of their offending.
The programme has now been shortlisted for a Howard League for Penal Reform Community Award – with the winner crowned next month.
The programme is funded by using money seized from criminals, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. It has previously been backed by Boots and the Central England Co-op, as well as supermarket Morrisons.
The initiative has run for the past two and a half years and has helped dozens of people and reduced crime. Furthermore, it is estimated that the programme has saved up to £1 million for retailers, due to a reduction in shoplifting and stopped about £350,000 being spent on illegal drugs.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: “There is a strong relationship between substance addiction, shop theft and the use of violence and aggression by drug-affected offenders. This programme is therefore saving money, helping prevent shop workers from being abused and promoting harm reduction for people with substance addiction.
“Prevention always has to be the starting point, because the prevention of crime is always better than having to deal with the consequences of crime. This programme has proved effective by investing money seized from criminals to fund the programme, in order to cut crime on our local high street, reduce the harm from drugs and prevent money going into the drugs economy.”
In the nomination to the panel, Emmeline Taylor Professor of Criminology and Sociology City, University of London, said: “I interviewed several participants in the programme who were drug-affected prolific thieves.
“They described to me the life-changing intervention that they had received from PC Stuart Toogood who had initiated the programme and at the time was the sole officer developing the programme in Birmingham East.
“PC Toogood had grown tired of finding himself frequently engaging with the same offenders who were committing prolific theft to fund significant and entrenched Class A drug addictions.
“He had observed how the individuals he encountered were stuck in a cycle of heroin abuse, prolific theft, and ineffective criminal sanctions that often appeared to do more harm than good.
“Inspired to attempt meaningful change in these people’s lives he began trying to divert them away from punitive sanctions and into rehabilitation.
“Perhaps one of the most commendable aspects of the programme is that it focuses on working with some of the hardest to reach and vulnerable offenders.”Back to News Archive