Welwyn Hatfield former burglars turn their lives around

PUBLISHED: 16:58 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 26 March 2019

The two Welwyn Hatfield men have turned their lives around after burglaries. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The two Welwyn Hatfield men have turned their lives around after burglaries. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Two former hardened criminals with nearly 50 offences between them have turned their backs on crime after successfully completing a police rehabilitation programme that is judged to prevent “hundreds of crimes”.

The Choices and Consequences (C2) programme, which has run in Hertfordshire since 2007, was developed to offer prolific criminals the opportunity to tackle their problems and make better lives for themselves.

The participants often have a form of addiction that drove their criminality.

One successful participant, a 41-year-old man from Welwyn Garden City, had admitted to 36 previous offences after he was first charged with three burglaries and a fraud offence.

In 2016, he was given a 36 month community order and told to join the C2 programme, during which he had to keep to strict conditions if he was to avoid serving the full sentence for all the crimes he had admitted to.

He did this - and in his final review the judge said in glowing terms how he had gone above and beyond the requirements of the programme.

“You are now a trusted employee, a significant presence in your sons’ lives, and a crutch to your family who are going through an incredibly tough time at present,” said his Honour Judge Grey yesterday at St Albans Crown Court.

“You have achieved these accomplishments from your own efforts and resilience, with the C2 programme giving you the opportunity to do this.

“You are not completing your sentence without any outstanding areas to be addressed, however your growth as a person during this time has left you equipped to continue to progress in your future.”

Another successful candidate on the programme was a 54-year-old man from Hatfield who was initially charged with two burglaries and asked for a further six offences to be taken into consideration.

In his final review yesterday, Judge Grey said: “One clear theme is the impact you have had on those you have met throughout this process.

“Reports from all the professionals who have worked with you talk about what a pleasure you were to work with, and how your attendance to the groups and interventions always had a positive impact on the engagement of others.

“Your positive attitude and jovial disposition always made other services users and professionals warm to you.”

A third man in his 20s from Berkhamsted also passed the programme yesterday.

C2 Detective sergeant Bianca Broadbent said: “These candidates have been very committed to completing the C2 programme and getting their lives back on track.

They have also demonstrated that they are ready to come off the programme and resume a normal life free of crime.

“The C2 programme is called Choices and Consequences for good reason.”

She explained how prolific offenders can become trapped in a cycle of crime, leaving them unable to find jobs on top of existing issues such as poor education and limited social skills - and it’s difficult to change.

“The programme gives them that chance to change, which benefits local communities in the longer term,” said DS Broadbent.

She added that there are strict criteria for accepting people on the programme.

“But for every prolific offender who is diverted from a life of crime, hundreds of crimes are prevented and potential victims spared.”

That’s not to say the programme is a soft choice.

DS Broadbent explained that there are “swift and severe” consequences if they carry on offending.

But, she said, the fact that current offenders on C2 have already spent years in prison, shows that prison is not always a deterrent - and it can often make it even more difficult for them to face up to life’s challenges and move on.

“C2 also appears to be more effective at rehabilitating offenders,” she said.

The C2 programme is run by Hertfordshire Constabulary in partnership with Hertfordshire Probation Service, Drug Services, other third party agencies under the direction of the Resident Judge, HHJ Grey at St Albans crown court.

For more information see: www.herts.police.uk/hertfordshire_constabulary/about_us/c2_project.aspx.

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