From prison to a better way – the scheme aimed at helping ex-offenders.
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Ex-offenders are being given a second chance through a scheme run by Wiltshire Police and the Probation Service.
The nationwide Integrated Offender Management (IOM) scheme brings together the police and other agencies like the local authorities and Probation to work with former prisoners to help rehabilitate them and prevent them from breaking the law again.
Yesterday (14/02), we heard from 37-year-old Will Gifford, from Wiltshire, who was jailed twice for burglary - stealing alcohol to feed his drinking addiction. It was when he was released from prison the second-time that he joined an IOM programme.
Will recognises that without help from IOM and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) he couldn’t have changed his life so significantly; he’s now sober and helping to run his father’s business.
Short, sharp shock worked
His dad, Peter Gifford, admits that seeing Will go to prison was very difficult but it was the best decision long term: “Will going to prison was just awful and so hard for us, but that short, sharp shock seemed to work for him – he then got help through the IOM programme."
Mark Wilkinson, from Wiltshire Police, who helps run the IOM programme in the county, said: “Many of our offenders have been directly or indirectly brought up around criminality and are often unable to break this cycle of behaviour.
“Whilst some people commit crime purely as a lifestyle choice many feel they have no alternative due to unforeseen circumstances or because they’re alienated due to historic behaviour which has led them to being unable to get work or any other support which would help them break free from the cycle of crime.”
Peter said: “The combination of IOM and AA has really helped Will, but he also wanted to get himself right. I would say to any parent of anybody in trouble, they must want to get out of trouble too – help themselves.
“My main message to anyone who maybe in the same position as we were just over a year ago is to have faith – things will get better and help is available as we have experienced through IOM.
“The police throughout have been brilliant and have really helped Will in his recovery and moving forward.”
More could be helped
Mark Wilkinson admits that Will is a completely changed man since they met last year. He said: “Will is a success story and reflects how the IOM programme can help individuals providing that person is prepared to put the work in.
“IOM identifies what a person requires, and supporting agencies work side by side with us and Probation to address those needs. The ultimate objective is to cut neighbourhood crime and victims of crime, make society a safer place and reduce the number of police deployments to repeat offenders.
“To date there have been several success stories of former criminals who have successfully broken their cycle of criminality – Will is one of those.
“We are currently working to expand our IOM cohort. To help more people and specifically those who are Serious Acquisitive Crime Offenders – i.e. those who carry out burglary, robbery, theft from the person, theft from or of a motor vehicle. Those people who may benefit from intensive multi-agency engagement to prevent reoffending.”