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Dudley named UKs number one for driving down re-offending

March 8, 2013, 3:58 pm

A six figure investment is paying off with Dudley named the countrys top spot for driving down re-offending rates.

Over the past two years, West Midlands Police have almost tripled the number of officers whose sole responsibility is to target criminals to prevent them from committing crimes.

The Dudley borough is now the UKs number one area for helping criminals break their offending cycle and getting them to turn over a new leaf.

Crime in the area has also tumbled with burglary rates falling by 40 per cent since the radical new approach was adopted by the force.

The Dudley trend mirrors that across the whole of the force area with Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Solihull, Coventry and Birmingham all in the top 24 best performing local authority areas with crime down to lows not seen in over a decade.

The only other area which comes close to matching Dudleys top performance is the largely rural area of Gwynedd in North Wales.

Senior officers are attributing the success to a “cast iron” relationship with police, local charities, probation workers, training providers and others who are all working together to keep past offenders on the straight and narrow.

“These latest Ministry of Justice results are really encouraging,” said Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson.

“They really demonstrate how – for the good of local people – West Midlands Police, the probation service and others have formed a cast iron partnership to prevent people from re-offending.

“The result of our new approach to offender management is that crime levels in the West Midlands are being driven down to levels not seen in a decade.

“That said, one crime is one crime too many and we are not complacent. West Midlands Police and our partners remain totally focused on protecting communities from harm and we will continue to robustly manage offenders in the area to further drive down crime.”

Adrian McNulty, head of Dudley probation echoed the Deputy Chief Constables sentiments: “I believe Dudleys great performance at reducing reoffending is thanks to the quality of community safety working in the borough between probation staff and our partners – especially Dudley Police, the substance misuse agencies and Dudley Safe and Sound.”

But its not all about second chances. Officers are quick to move in and arrest those who have been released from prison, refuse help, choose not to change their ways and go on to re-offend.

And with around 300 officers now dedicated solely to managing offenders across the West Midlands, the forces ability to rapidly return re-offenders to prison has dramatically increased.

The dedicated officers are also poised to respond to reports from drug support groups that ex-offenders have once again become dependent on drugs as identified in one of their routine screenings. Where drug use is forbidden under the terms of their conditions of release from prison, they can be immediately recalled to serve the rest of their sentence from behind bars.

One local charity providing support to ex-offenders in Dudley and beyond is CRI − a drugs charity.

“Were delighted to see our work with West Midlands Police making a difference to local communities,” said Nic Adamson, deputy director for CRI.

“Our work supports people into recovery from substance or alcohol misuse and helps reduce the risk of offending or reoffending while ensuring a healthier life for our clients.”

In times of austerity charities such as CRI are increasingly playing a key role in helping cut re-offending rates. And the changes to the way in which West Midlands Police manages offenders were implemented as a result of savings the force had to make.

In March 2011, the force put all areas of its business under the microscope to assess how it operates. As part of this process the size of offender management teams were tripled as officers were re-allocated to these roles.

Despite the success of the new, larger teams, Deputy Police and Crime Commission, Yvonne Mosquito is concerned future cuts may have.

“This success resonates very closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones and me,” she said.

“At our summit for victims, in January of this year, we said that victims should come first, and it is good to see this principle put into practice.

“Cutting the rates of re-offending means that the revolving door, which lets criminals go through the criminal justice system and back into crime, has been slowed down. We fully support the force in using these methods of reducing crime, so that our communities are safer.

“Bob and I do however have concerns that the unfair funding settlement received by the West Midlands means that we will find it increasingly difficult to continue to give the force the financial support that it needs to sustain this success.

“In addition, Government proposals in the Ministry of Justice consultation ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ are a cause for considerable concern.

“They have the potential to seriously undermine successful integrated offender management not just here in the West Midlands but across the country too. Anyone with an interest in offender management, rehabilitation, and probation services should take a look at the consultation and let their MP and the Ministry of Justice have their views.”

In 2010/2011, there were 215,354 total crimes recorded across the West Midlands. This was driven down to 193,545 in 2011/2012 meaning a reduction of 21,809 offences.

The West Midlands local authority areas (LAA) and their respective position in the Ministry of Justice league table (out of 222 LAAs):

  • Dudley = 1
  • Sandwell = 6
  • Birmingham = 10
  • Coventry = 16
  • Solihull = 17
  • Wolverhampton = 23
  • Walsall = 24

Photograph (L-R): Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson, Inspector Eddie Boyle – head of the Dudley Offender Management Team and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito.

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