WEST Midlands Police’s management of the region’s most prolific criminals is estimated to have prevented more than 8,000 offences in the last 12 months – crimes that would have cost society nearly £30-million.
The force’s Offender Management teams are currently working with almost 3,700 offenders.
Some have among the most chequered CVs in the country with 100s of convictions – many of them deemed a high re-offending risk or considered vulnerable and in need of support to get them back on a law-abiding track.
Analysis of the group’s crime history suggests they would have amassed a total of 21,633 offences between them in the last 12 months.
But since being adopted by Offender Management case workers their projected annual crime count has fallen to 13,431.
That’s 8,202 fewer offences which equates to a 39 per cent reduction.
West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Paul Betts is one of UK police’s leading lights in offender management and passionate about getting people on the straight and narrow without a trip through the so-called revolving doors of justice.
He said: “These are complex and challenging offenders…addressing their behaviour and issues that may be contributing to their criminal lifestyle is not an easy fix.
“So reducing the crime impact this group is having on our communities by almost 40 per cent really demonstrates the value of offender management tailored to individual needs.
“Many have been in and out of prison several times; it illustrates the answer to curbing their offending lies beyond simply imposing custodial sentences.”
Nowhere is the success better illustrated than in the case of Laura (not her real name) who has turned her back on a life of crime since being supported by an offender manager.
The 30-year-old was one of the Coventry’s most persistent shoplifters who, in a bid to fuel a heroin addiction, racked up 42 convictions for 124 offences.
She was in the early stages of pregnancy in May 2015 when she was sent to prison for breaching a suspended sentence for theft.
Coventry Police’s offender management team sourced maternity wear from a clothes bank, visited prison to update her on child protection matters and, following her release in November, secured £150 from a charity to help buy baby clothes and accessories.
Alongside social services they also helped her secure accommodation at a mother and baby lodge and directed her towards a vulnerable women’s support group.
Offender Manager PC Brenda Pattinson said: “Laura is a completely changed person.
“She is now living independently, is off drugs and methadone, and is optimistic about her future. Many people would have written her off due to her criminal past.
“Our Offender Management approach recognises that vulnerability lies behind many of the crimes committed by persistent offenders.
“We balance a need to control some people’s offending behaviour when it’s chaotic through civil orders, prosecutions, and bail conditions but are always looking for opportunities to support people to change their lives.”
There are currently 3,670 people on West Midlands Police’s Offender Management books, including 260 women.
Some are overseen for just a few weeks but others have been receiving police counsel for several years in a bid to break their offending habit.
Chief Insp Betts, added: “It’s about tackling vulnerability and helping people stop committing crime by dealing with issues that cause it in the first place; like getting them a decent place to live, a job, sorting out their debt issues…that type of thing.
“To get them to change we need really effective partnerships in place so we can help them with their housing, work, poverty, drug or alcohol issues, mental health, physical health or learning difficulties.
“West Midlands Police’s ‘Next Generation Local Policing’ has offender management at its heart: all neighbourhood teams will receive training and every offender has a dedicated PC to manage them.
“It harks back to one of Sir Robert Peel’s principles of ‘offering the hand of friendship’ even to those who don’t realise they need it.”