The Prolific and Priority Offender (PPO) Scheme

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The PPO scheme has had great success across Britain in reducing reoffending of some of the most prolific offenders. 

The local press, 'This is Gloucestershire', reported on the case study of one ex-Prolific Offender as part of their Justice in Gloucestershire week. This is a copy of their report:

'Today we speak to a prolific offender - Justin - who had 104 convictions before deciding to turn his life around.

WHEN he was just 11 years old, Justin (not his real name) spat at a police officer and was arrested for the first time.

He was just a young boy, but was already caught up in a cycle of trouble, with a group of friends who encouraged each other to commit worse and worse crimes.

His life spiralled into around 15 years of offending, and he has 104 convictions to his name.
Over the years the ex drug-addict, who said he has now turned his life around, has been charged and convicted for offences including burglaries, robbery, witness intimidation and drugs offences.
Now a father, Justin, has spoken of the never-ending cycle of crime that he eventually found a way to break out of.

“There were a load of us who used to meet up and get drunk, and be idiots and cause trouble,” he said.

“We used to just start on people for no reason whatsoever. We were just showing off in front of girls.”

He said he would steal from sheds and vans, either to buy cannabis or to pay for the branded clothes so many people were wearing at the time, which his family could not afford.

He said: “I was already addicted then, but when I was 14 that’s when Class As came into it. A first it was heroin then heroin and crack, then one or the other.

“It was the crack that really got me. When I was on it I became a very nasty person. I’d read about people doing robberies and burglaries of houses but I always said I would never do that. But when I was on crack I did. There would be five or six of us. We’d smash a window and go in. One would always stay outside in case anyone came back. It was easy money.

“I didn’t care whose house I was burgling. I wasn’t interested in what they thought about me taking their belongings. I wanted my next fix.”

He admits he does not know how many crimes he has committed. “Sometimes I broke into five houses a day, sometimes 10,” he said.

“As I was going through the rooms my eyes were everywhere looking for what I could find.
“I have ridden with big TVs on push bikes, but people would see me. It was better to take smaller things."

“I realised my crimes were getting worse. I was running into shops, jumping at people with hammers in my hand, jumping on a bus and pulling weapons on the drivers. The police knew it was me doing it. They just couldn’t prove it. They were waiting for me to hang myself.”

He spent much of his time in prison, and says that in the 14 years he was with the same partner, they probably only spent two years together, because of him being in jail.

He was unable to kick his drugs habit. He would be clean while in prison, but would be finding excuses to go straight back on the drugs the minute he came out.

“As soon as I knew the release date, I’d be planning how to get the drugs,” he said. “I’d go
straight back to my old friends and into the thick of it.”

He first realised enough was enough when he was in prison beginning a three-and-a-half year sentence. He received a letter from the Attorney General telling him they were appealing his sentence for being too lenient.

“I thought it was too,” he said.

He wanted to get clean, but the addiction and lifestyle he had, meant he was unable to succeed first time around – it took years.

There were three main things that helped him kick the habit. He gained a self awareness, and realised what his triggers were and how to avoid them.

One was boredom and he was helped in this by working with Blue Sky, which helps offenders get employment. He has since found a permanent job. He was also encouraged in his mission by news that his partner was pregnant.

“I realised I didn’t want my child growing up in that environment,” he said.

“When I was growing up my dad was in prison a lot. I didn’t want my children growing up thinking it was normal.

“It was something to focus on. I had this little vulnerable baby that needed me.”

What also helped him was getting on the Prolifics scheme, a partnership between probation and Gloucestershire Police.

He was told that for two years police would carry out drugs spot checks on him, and if they found any proof of drugs he would be sent straight back to prison. The only way to stay out was to stay clean.

Detective Constable Harry Burke, who has worked with him over the years, said: “I’ve been doing this for a long time and it doesn’t bother me going into their homes and nicking them, but I’ve had more pleasure in seeing him turn his life around than I have in many things.

“I was so resistant about the prolific offenders scheme. I was old school. But it has helped turn a fair few people around.

“We have about 40 prolific offenders and there’s no magic formula. They’ve got to want to change.”'

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