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Two West Midlands schemes, designed to prevent crime, have been recognised with national awards.

The Offender to Rehab programme ensures shoplifters, who are stealing to fund a drug habit, are supported into treatment for their addiction. Whilst the Restorative Justice project provides an opportunity for victims of crime to meet the offender responsible, show them the harm that has been caused, hold them to account and allows them to gain closure.

Both schemes are funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster.

The Offender to Rehab initiative is run by West Midlands Police and aims to get prolific shoplifters into residential rehab, if they are stealing to buy drugs. The programme is predominantly funded using money seized from criminals, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2022. In addition, Retailers and the Probation Service have also contributed to rehab places. It has been running in Erdington since 2018, and in July 2021, a Pan-Birmingham pilot was launched. It is estimated the programme has saved well over £1 million for retailers, due to a reduction in shoplifting and prevented around £750,000 being spent on illegal drugs. Moreover, it has saved and changed the lives of a number of people living in the West Midlands. The Programme won first place in the Howard League for Penal Reform Policing and Adults Category.

Meanwhile the Restorative Justice scheme won top spot in the Restorative Approaches category. Run by Remedi, the RJ programme offers victims the chance to meet with their offender to get closure. Victims sometimes take up the offer despite having been seriously assaulted and their attacker now being in prison. Offenders often report that meeting their victims changes their behaviour and puts a stop to their law breaking. 

Lisa was robbed after being hit over the head by a glass bottle as she withdrew cash from a hole-in-the-wall in Darlaston. Despite attempting to fight off her attacker, the incident left her scared and frightened. That was until Lisa was offered the chance to go into a local prison and confront the man who assaulted and robbed her. The initiative was funded by the PCC and arranged by Remedi, one of the organisations who provide the Restorative Justice service in our region. They brought the pair together in an attempt to help the victim move on with her life and to ensure the offender changed his ways.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: “I’m very pleased with both of these awards.

“The Offender to Rehab and Restorative Justice work is making a real difference to people’s lives. They are stopping people offending, reducing crime and protecting victims.

“I believe that if you prevent people from committing crime in the first place then that means less crime, less victims of crime and is far cheaper for the taxpayer, than trying to arrest your way out of the problem.”

PC Stuart Toogood, who initiated the Offender to Rehab scheme, said: “It is fantastic that our programme has been recognised for all the good that it does.

“By tackling the root causes of crime by providing rehab we have saved lives, prevented crime, reduced risk of violence to shop workers, reduced demand on our police service and prevented significant amounts of money being given to the illegal drugs economy.”

Meanwhile, Amanda Townsend from Remedi, said: “I am so proud of the team and the amazing work they have done in the West Midlands.

“We are incredibly thankful for being recognised by the Howard League and the support we receive from the PCC’s office and our partners.

“Being able to support victims and offenders through the restorative process is a huge honour and the team are incredibly passionate about providing the best service possible.”

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