An offender has become the first to complete a ground-breaking scheme which has seen him rebuild his life rather than get a criminal conviction.
Partnership agencies across County Durham and Darlington combined earlier this year to launch the Checkpoint programme which offers an alternative to a prosecution or caution for low-level offences.
The programmes are four months long and are tailored to each offender. They offer interventions to address the underlying reasons why they committed the crime to prevent them from doing it again.
The first to complete the scheme is Steven Beckwith.
Steven, 44, from Darlington, was signed onto the programme after he was arrested for a minor assault against Malcolm Easby.
Malcolm opted for Steven to go onto Checkpoint and thinks the scheme is a great idea, he said: “If it’s helped him, I’m all for it, it’ll help a lot of other people too.”
Steven was an unemployed painter and decorator who was looking for work. He also needed advice and guidance on his alcohol intake and a number of interventions aimed at helping him were required throughout the terms of his contract.
One of these involved him undertaking some voluntary work at the Kings Church in Darlington, where he used his skills as a painter and decorator to give the church a new look.
As part of the scheme and with help from the DWP in Darlington, Steven was provided with funding for his CSCS Card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme). Soon after completing the course Steven was offered a job as a painter and decorator and is now working full time in Cambridge.
Steven said: “Before I wasn’t working, I was drinking on the street and I had nothing to do all day. It has changed everything about my life,
“Now I am back working and I can control my anger. I have got everything back and can get my life back on track.”
Detective Supt Kevin Weir, from Durham Constabulary, said: "We have seen some fantastic results since the scheme was implemented.
“If we can intervene and disrupt someone's offending behaviour by putting them onto a contract where they must attend appointments with the job centre, addiction or health services then this benefits the wider public.
"It reduces demand long term on these services freeing up time and money to serve the community,
“This is by no means the soft option and we are not offering these offenders anything different to any other person who may come into contact with one of the agencies involved.
“The difference is the contract, and the responsibility to fulfil that contract.”
Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg, said: “I was pleased to be successful at winning funding for Checkpoint from the Police Innovation Fund, and I am also grateful to partners who have also contributed substantial time and resources to the programme”.
“Many adult offenders are often at crisis point when arrested, feeling unable to find a way out of their cycle of offending, as they have poor support networks and insufficient access to support services.
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Posted on Thursday 13th August 2015