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Norfolk and Suffolk police joining forces to combat repeat offenders

23:54 12 January 2014

Stephen Bett. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Stephen Bett. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

Police in Norfolk and Suffolk are to join forces in a scheme to tackle the most prolific offenders in a bid to beat reoffending.

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The project has already proved a winner in Norfolk, cutting reoffending by almost 60pc, or 4,500 crimes, by focusing on 150 of the county’s most prolific offenders and help them to change their behaviour.

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett said of the 180 Integrated Offender Management Scheme: “What we’re doing is really concentrating on our most prolific, who are causing the public the greatest harm and are the most difficult people to deal with.

“Norfolk and Suffolk are going to join together their Integrated Offender Management Scheme and improve on the success we’ve had already.”

There are also plans for agencies, including the police and mental health services, to come together in a bid to help improve the support offenders receive once released through schemes like the Chapelfield Custody and Community project which has seen the shopping centre working in partnership with HMP Norwich to give prisoners training and employment opportunities.

Mr Bett was speaking after official figures showed almost three in four repeat offenders avoided jail last year across the country.

Figures obtained by the Centre of Crime Prevention showed 173,000 repeat offenders avoided custodial sentences last year while one in
four serial offenders, who have committed more than 300 crimes, avoided jail.

Although the figures did not reveal how many repeat offenders from Norfolk and Suffolk avoided custody in 2012 they do show that both counties were in the top 12 areas of the country with the highest percentage of first-time offenders and repeat criminals avoiding prison.

Norfolk was 12th in the table with 93pc (15,220) of all persons sentenced avoiding prison while Suffolk was sixth with 94.1pc (14,100). Cambridge was 33rd out of 42 areas on the list with 91.5pc (13,918) of all those sentenced not going to prison.

Peter Cuthbertson, author of the report and director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “The most prolific offenders are responsible for a growing percentage of all crime, and locking them up would have a massive impact on the crime rate.”

Norwich and Wayland are among a nationwide network of resettlement prisons which, from this autumn, will see offenders moved to prisons near where they live before being released in a bid to help increase supervision and support and help them to turn their lives around.

Have you got a crime story? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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