Report by Charlotte Richardson , chief reporter
Friday, May 4, 2012
TWO ex-offenders have spoken about how a highly-regarded new police initiative has helped them give up a life of crime.
Impact is a multi-agency team made up of police, probation workers, prison officers and drugs workers.
The team identifies and manages the criminals who are committing most of the robberies, burglaries and thefts in the area.
It aims to reduce the number of crimes being committed by this handful of repeat offenders by helping them to address the issues that are causing them to commit crime, such as drug and alcohol misuse.
One person who has been helped by Impact is 23-year-old Daniel from Weston, who has now been clean of drugs for eight months.
We cannot identify him further, but he has spoken out in the hope his words may make a difference to others in a similar position.
He said: “If I can make someone else think twice about getting into a life of crime and drugs, it would be a privilege.
“Change is possible. I took amphetamines from the age of 16 and heroin from 17. Then I also started on speed and committed theft and commercial and domestic burglaries.
“Impact gave me a second chance. I changed my life around through people who believed in me. They wanted to see good in me.
“I would still be committing crime and hurting people if it wasn’t for Impact.
“To think it’s alright to go and burgle someone’s house is not a good thought – it can have tragic consequences for yourself and the victim.”
Impact has been held up as a national example of good practice since it was launched in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary area.
Tony, aged 44, was also heavily involved in a life of crime until the organisation helped him break the cycle.
He has also asked most of his personal details are withheld.
He said: “I was a prolific offender.
“I came to Weston four years ago for drug treatment but that failed.
“The Impact team said ‘sort out your act or go to jail’ and I went to jail.
“I was approached again by the Impact team while I was there and when I got out they got me a place in a dry house and got me a drug worker and helped me carry out different courses.
“I’ve now been clean for a year.”
Criminals don’t get to choose whether they are on the Impact scheme or not, but they can choose whether to accept the offer of help to change their lives for the better or to continue a life of crime.
Impact does not cost any extra.
Probation workers, police, prisons and the local authorities have come together and worked out how to get more for their money by working together to tackle the same problems.
North Somerset’s Impact team has now been in place for more than a year and manages 215 offenders.