Pioneering crime reduction programme to be rolled out in Wales

A Welsh force is set to launch two pioneering projects aimed at diverting low-level offenders away from crime in a bid to reduce rates of reoffending.

Jun 3, 2019
By Tony Thompson
North Wales PCC Arfon Jones

The first is the Checkpoint Cymru project which will offer offenders the chance to avoid prosecution by signing a four-month contract and committing to seek help from rehabilitation services. They will be supervised by a skilled “navigator” – which may include people who have overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol – and will face prosecution if they break the contract at any time.

The scheme is being introduced by North Wales police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, who believes it will also free up more police and court time. A total of nine navigators will be recruited and based at custody suites in Caernarfon, St Asaph and Llay.

The concept was originally developed by academics from Cambridge University and is currently running in Durham. Although the figures from there still need to be formally evaluated, they show a significant 12 per cent reduction in reoffending rates, down to 18 per cent from 30 per cent.

Mr Jones said: “Evidence has shown that a high proportion of offenders have underlying issues such as substance misuse, mental health, financial or housing problems which have their origins in traumatic experiences.

“By addressing the underlying causes of their offending behaviour those signing up to the programme are less likely to reoffend as has been clearly demonstrated in Durham.”

The launch of the programme is being overseen by Inspector Iwan Jones who has been seconded from North Wales Police. He said: “The thinking is to be able to give people a second chance at life, to help people get back into education, to help people get back into employment.

“But it’s also to look after their families, to look after their children because it’s well known how the effects of adverse childhood experiences lead to crisis in later life. One of the primary concerns of Checkpoint is to stop that revolving door of reoffending that takes up so much police and court time, as well as causing misery to the victims and the families of the offenders.

“We will be providing pathways for offenders to change their lifestyle that revolves around crime by understanding the reason behind the criminal behaviour.”

At the same time, Mr Jones will also be introducing another initiative based on a different pilot project, the Bristol Drugs Programme, which has also seen great success.

Under the new scheme those caught with small amounts of drugs will be steered towards educational awareness courses similar in principle to the ones for drivers caught speeding and those who take part can avoid a criminal conviction.

“Both schemes are a way of supporting people to make better lifestyle choices and realise their own potential,” said Mr Jones.

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