Reoffenders need help not to return to old ways

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VERITY LUSH: Spending squillions to point out the blindingly obvious

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When our reporters cover major trials at crown court, the number of previous offences that are revealed after the end of a trial for offenders can often be staggering.

Lengthy litanies of crimes are reeled off as juries are visibly stunned at the number of crimes the person in the dock has already committed.

Even more so at the lower level in magistrates’ courts, the same names appear again and again. It is these petty offenders who clog up the courts, often committing more crimes before they’ve been dealt with for the last lot.

Figures released last year revealed that one in three offenders put before the courts already have at least 15 previous crimes to their names.

These reoffenders cost the system, and ultimately the taxpayer, untold amounts of money.

It is the reason why any scheme to reduce the number of people who come back before the bench on a regular basis should be welcomed as entirely necessary.

Hampshire’s Integrated Offender Management has been lauded by the people behind it for helping reduce those numbers.

And Paul Murphy, who has been put forward as one of its success stories, tells how it is helped put him back on the straight and narrow.

Good on him for the progress he has made, but the hard part for Paul and those like him, will be sticking to that path.

For that reason,these people should not be abandoned too soon, and this is frequently the problem.

As soon as these individuals are finished with the programme they are let go and they are not always ready for that level of personal responsibility.

That is the point when they are most in danger of reoffending.

Admittedly it is a fine line between help and nannying, but these people should not be cut loose before they are ready.

The path back to reoffending can be quick and extremely slippery.

As Ch Supt Richard Rowlands points out, with fewer crimes committed, the fewer victims there are – and that ultimately has to be the aim.