'Meet offenders at jail gates and give them help', says Staffordshire's Chief Constable
MORE than 300 of North Staffordshire's most prolific criminals are being specifically monitored by police in a crime crackdown.
Staffordshire Police's Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme is currently working with 336 offenders.
That includes 93 criminals still in prison, 80 who are subject to community orders and 35 offenders classed as a high risk.
Police believe targeting some offenders will help cut re-offending rates.
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The programme – which is based at Longton Police Station – has proved so successful that Home Secretary Theresa May visited Stoke-on-Trent last month to learn more about it.
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: "Part of policing is about managing the people who commit the crimes.
"Those likely to commit crime are given very intensive management because the pull back into criminality is very strong. What we need to do is meet them at the gates of prison and give them a chance."
During her visit, Mrs May met a former drug addict who used to fund his £500-a-day heroin addiction through committing crime. He has stopped offending after being monitored by the IOM.
Mr Cunningham added: "He would take his daughter to school to drop her off and then go burgling for the rest of the day to fund his habit."
The new IOM programme started in April.
It targets 'acquisitive' criminals including burglars, robbers and prolific shoplifters.
It is possible that violent criminals could also be included in future IOM programmes.
The IOM is run by 34 officers and around 20 police staff.
IOM operations manager Inspector Matt Derrick said: "We work on the premise of control and change.
"If an offender wants to change then we will gear them towards it with all the necessary preventions like drug treatment, housing, education and help with getting a job.
"In other cases where they may refuse to take part, they are targeted by the police to force intervention on them."
He added: "We don't yet have the data to tell us how we are doing. But from previous programmes we know that intervention is worthwhile.
"We have a far richer picture now of their offending behaviour and it is just a case of aligning the right resources to stop that cycle.
"This is about recognising that we have to take a fresh look at dealing with criminals or we just end up chasing the same names and faces around the same streets."