Clean Slate is right way to tackle career criminals

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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How many times do the courts see the same faces?

We’re talking about the kind of career criminals for whom yet another appearance before magistrates or a judge and a custodial sentence is regarded as just a blip in their serial offending.

Often addicted to drugs or alcohol, they view crime as the way to pay for their lifestyles and become trapped in an endless, depressing cycle of offending.

Put behind bars, they will simply wait for their release and then go back to their old ways.

So it’s good to see police in Hampshire are trying to change that, using the Clean Slate programme to encourage criminals to confess to their long lists of offences and then ensure they receive the help they need to get on the straight and narrow.

People like Michael Antram, 23, who called police from Winchester Prison while serving a 30-month sentence for other crimes and said he wanted to wipe his slate clean. He was jailed for an extra 28 months at Portsmouth Crown Court after more than 150 other crimes committed over four years were taken into consideration.

Clean Slate doesn’t mean escaping punishment. If they’ve done the crime, then they’ll still do the time.

But when they come out of prison, the aim is to stop them being regular fixtures in the criminal justice system and actually start contributing something to society.

That means ensuring they have the support network they need to change their behaviour and lead a more positive life.

Some may dismiss this as soft touch liberalism and say that prolific criminals don’t deserve such help. But what’s the alternative? Let them carry on burgling more and more houses to fund their dependency, causing misery to their victims and filling up the courts and then jails?

Far better to get them to face up to their past and improve their future, while also achieving closure for those they’ve burgled.

We applaud the police for trying something different and hope Clean Slate continues to contribute to tackling crime in our county.