A scheme labelled 'life changing' by a reformed offender has seen 100 people successfully complete it in a matter of months.
The 100th person to complete the scheme was a 23-year-old woman from the Spennymoor area who was referred to Checkpoint after shoplifting to fund her drug addiction. Following counselling to address her drug issues, she is now clean and looking forward to the future.
Durham Constabulary, together with partner agencies across County Durham and Darlington launched the Checkpoint programme earlier this year. It offers an alternative to a prosecution or caution for low-level offences.
The programmes are four months long and are tailored to each offender. Offenders agree to the bespoke contract which, if not adhered to, can result in the original prosecution.
The first graduate, Steven Beckwith, completed his contract in August and since then the scheme has gone from strength to strength offering interventions to address the underlying offending behaviours. 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, as an unemployed painter and decorator Steven was required to undertake some voluntary work at the Kings Church in Darlington, where he used his skills to give the church a new look. As well as this, he also addressed his alcohol issues and is now in full-time employment.
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.”
The levels of intervention within the scheme vary depending on the offence, partner agencies offer everything from drug and alcohol counselling to life skills and help with housing. The offender may be required to give something back to their community through voluntary work which matches their existing skills and personal development
Another Checkpoint ‘success story’ involves a 19-year-old woman from Spennymoor who found Checkpoint so life changing she decided to produce a documentary film about the scheme. She was involved in a minor assault and received counselling and a brief alcohol intervention.
Now in her second year at University, she hopes to graduate in 2017 and credits the scheme as changing her life for the better.
Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg, commented: “I am really proud of how far we have come with the Checkpoint programme. This innovative scheme is revolutionising the way we manage low-level offending in County Durham and Darlington by tackling the root cause, reducing the risk of re-offending and thereby reducing the number of victims in our communities.”
Durham Constabulary was recently hailed as the ‘Best Force in the Country’ following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) and the Checkpoint programme was given a special mention as a revolutionary way to deal with low-level offenders.
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Posted on Tuesday 17th November 2015