Pioneering scheme is helping offenders drive down crime and change the lives of people in Birmingham
One year on from the launch of a ground-breaking scheme funded by Central England Co-op to help tackle crime and rehabilitate people suffering from addiction the world as we knew it has changed completely.
However, despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, this has not stopped the amazing work continuing with the pioneering Offender to Rehab programme in Birmingham.
PC Stuart Toogood, from Erdington Neighbourhood team, has spearheaded the project, which helps offenders rehabilitate and transform their lives while also reducing crime in the communities it is based, since its inception and today looks back on its impact, its future and one of its greatest success stories.
The project is set to be discussed as part of a special documentary on Channel 5 airing at 6.30pm on Wednesday, 17 March.
He said: “It is fair to say that this scheme has made a massive impact on a significant amount of people who have taken part so far.
“It has been received really well by the force, businesses and the community as they recognise that a different approach to tackling offending can and has made a difference.
“And while we know it is not for everyone, it is a great tool to have to not only drive down crime but also tackle the source of offending and help people change their lives for the better.
“It has also only been possible thanks to partners like Central England Co-op who took a chance, backed our judgement and are now making a personal, long-lasting impact for all those involved.”
Paul Brookes is a tremendous example of why Offender to Rehab can make such an impact. The former shoplifter and the handful of others involved carried out nearly 200 known offences – including shoplifting – and served several prison sentences, all to sustain their heroin and crack cocaine addictions.
He was identified by PC Toogood who was able to get him into Livingstone House, a male only residential drug and rehabilitation programme in Small Heath, and start a journey that would change his life.
Paul’s efforts have been supported after Central England Co-op linked up with West Midlands Police to back this new approach to tackle persistent offenders in Birmingham.
In just over a year he has turned his life around. He is now volunteering, edging towards paid work and undertaking training and education – all while winning a daily battle/struggle with addiction and putting crime in his past.
Paul said: “I am really proud of myself at being able to carry on my journey, especially in these tough times. Our current circumstances have also allowed me to reflect and remind myself of how glad I am to have turned my back on crime and that I am working my way to turning my life around.
“Lockdown has been tough for us all, I am just glad I have been able to do it with great support and also able to continue my journey away from crime and a more positive future.”
PC Toogood added: “He is also now in a position that he can use his story, what he has been through, to help others just starting their journey and showcase that this approach, while not for everyone, can make a difference and is worth trying and persevering with.
“I am personally very proud of everything Paul has achieved so far - he has really turned his life around. He is a lot happier and his family couldn't be more proud of him.
“He has shown great strength and at times when he could have easily thrown the towel in - he didn't. He really is a great guy and an inspiration to many including me.”
The success of Paul and others who have been part of the scheme has resulted in plans being drawn up for it to be rolled out across the entirety of Birmingham in the coming months.
Hannah Gallimore, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Central England Co-op, said: “This innovative project is one that has targeted not just the most prolific offenders but also the ones that are willing to make changes.
“I am delighted to see how well Paul has been doing as part of the programme, especially during lockdown, and look forward to being able to celebrate his success in person soon.
“We are so proud to work with West Midlands Police on this pioneering approach and to know that we are making our communities safer as well as having a life-changing impact on those involved.”
PC Toogood added: “We know that this approach has reduced crime and the risk of violence towards staff. The scheme has not only achieved this but has definitely saved lives as well.
“We are proud of our links with Central England Co-op and especially the support of Hannah and her team in providing the support.”
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.
Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its 7,550 colleagues serve customers across over 400 trading sites in 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Its purpose is to inspire communities to help create a ‘sustainable Society for all’, a strong and successful Society that is invested in protecting the environment and the wellbeing of all of its colleagues, members, and customers.