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Burglar breaks drugs and crime cycle with West Mids rehab scheme

West Midlands Police are hailing the success of an offender rehab scheme after a prolific burglar who’s spent more than half his adult life in jail is now crime and drug free

The man – who has 62 convictions to his name – has been in and out of jail for thefts and burglaries which he committed to fuel his heroin and crack cocaine addiction.

West Midlands arrested him most recently in 2017 after finding his fingerprints at the scene of a break-in where he’d forced a rear window to steal electronics and jewellery.

He was put before the court and faced yet more time behind bars – but the force persuaded the judge to defer the sentence and instead impose a community order that saw him enrolled on the C3 rehabilitation programme.

He was told he’d face a five-year prison term if he failed to co-operate fully.

The C3 project gives burglars - repeat non-violent offenders whose crimes are drug fuelled - a chance to make amends to victims and get their lives back on track.

The 49-year-old – who’s asked not to be named – wrote letters of apology to victims, was electronically tagged, drug tested twice a week, and met regularly with officer and his probation case workers.

He was found a flat – he’d previously been sleeping rough in Digbeth – provided food parcels, got him on a construction training course and volunteering opportunities with a homeless charity. 

The force said he has “seized the opportunity with both hands”.

He now has his own flat, is making marriage plans with his partner, and is holding down a full-time job with a large regional employer where he’s impressed bosses with his commitment and attitude.

He remains drug and crime free.

Detective Sergeant Sandy Thompson runs the project.

He said: “This case illustrates how dealing with repeat offenders in a different way can steer them away from crime, improve their lives, and prevent other people becoming victims.

“For many years as a detective the end game was convicting a criminal. That was it, done, and onto the next one. But that didn’t address their behaviour and when they got out they invariably reoffended and caused more hurt in our communities. 

“This hasn’t been an easy four years for him. With our support he’s fought to come off drugs, was electronically-tagged for 18 months, and has been bound by strict conditions.

“If he got back on drugs, committed an offence or behaved in an unacceptable manner he would have been back inside for five years.

“Without the intervention of the C3 programme he would still be committing crime…but he’s engaged well and turned his life completely around. 

“His victims are very pleased he’s seized the opportunity; they feel that something positive has come from the crimes they suffered and take comfort from the fact that it will not happen to anyone else.”

The man formally came off the C3 Programme during a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday (11 August).

Mrs Justice Mary Stacey, now a High Court judge, presided over the initial case in 2017.

She said: “I’ve been impressed by how hard you’ve worked to turn your life around. Seeing you transform yourself into the person you are today has been one of the highlights of my job as a judge.”

A total of 20 burglars have taken part in the project to date – resolving a total of 830 offences between them − with 14 successfully steering clear of crime.

All of the participants take part with the agreement of their victims.

It’s proved a success as since the C3 pilot was launched in 2017 burglary rates have fallen across the West Midlands by around 30 per cent.

Justice Stacey added: “Programmes like C3 which are well managed, thought out and accountable give judges increased confidence in considering non-custodial community sentences in cases in which normally prison would be the only option.”

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