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 (PCC), gives those who have substance misuse issues and are shoplifters and then helps to get them into rehab.
The programme has now been shortlisted for a Howard League for Penal Reform Community Award – with the winner crowned next month.
It is funded using money seized from criminals, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The initiative has run for the past two and a half years and has helped dozens of people and reduced crime.
The PCC’s says it is estimated that the programme has saved up to £1million for retailers, due to a reduction in shoplifting and stopped about £350,000 being spent on illegal drugs.
The PCC, Simon Foster, said: “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.
“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.”