Police reach out to drug users and drinkers across Ashfield in bid to cut crime
Officers are beginning a series of face-to-face meetings with drug-users and dependent drinkers in a bid to cut crime and safeguard vulnerable people.
The Ashfield-based Nottinghamshire Police officers are seeking to reduce the disproportionate amount of offences committed by and against a small minority of addicts in their local area.
The Vulnerable Adult Support Scheme, formally launched on Wednesday, will provide known offenders with twice-monthly visits by police officers and other specialist support staff.
The aim is to sign-post people to appropriate additional support and also to develop a better, more trusting, relationship with local officers.
Community protection officers and anti-social behaviour officers will be joined by complex case workers in providing additional support to the scheme along with local drug and alcohol support workers.
Visits are now underway with an initial cohort of ten individuals who have been both perpetrators and victims of crime. This group will be reviewed every month by police officers and partners involved in the scheme.
Inspector Mark Dickson, district commander for Ashfield, said: “As police officers we see every day the impact that drugs and alcohol addiction can have on vulnerable people.
“Sadly, many of these people seemed trapped in a destructive cycle of addiction and offending where they commit offences such as burglaries and thefts purely in order to fund their drug use.
“The end result is that we end up with a small number of people committing a hugely disproportionate amount of offences, and that really isn’t good for anybody.
“We also know that same group of people are also at significantly increased risk of falling victim to violent crime and exploitation themselves – either at the hands of other drug users or the ruthless drugs gangs who profit on their misery. So this scheme is also a way of protecting them from harm.
“Of course we’ll continue to catch, prosecute and lock these people up, but what we really want to do is to help them to change their behaviour and break that cycle of offending – and that is what this scheme is all about.”
The Vulnerable Adult Support Scheme is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Ashfield team to reach out to hard-to-reach members of the community and intervene directly in their offending.
Officers are already working in a similar way with young offenders and people who have been caught carrying knives.
Sergeant Paul Peatfield is leading the scheme. He said: “This is a completely new approach for the area and unique across the force. Those who need the support and are willing to engage, will benefit from direct communication and regular support.
“Initially we are trialling this with a group of people we have identified as being vulnerable. Going forward we will be accepting referrals from partner agencies and potentially even from concerned family members.
“My hope is that we end up in a situation where we are having more regular and constructive conversations with known local offenders that take place over a cup of tea or coffee – rather than in the back of a police car or interview room. By building up a better rapport with them I am confident that we can help to reduce their offending and help them to address the underlying reasons behind it. In doing that we will also be delivering a significant benefit to the local residents who may otherwise fall victim to this type of offending.”
Nottinghamshire Police & Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “Preventative measures such as this should always sit alongside the prosecution of offenders in order to attempt to bring about a change in behaviour of those causing problems on our streets."
“We must explore every way possible to integrate offenders back in to our communities and give them opportunity to change the way they live. Make no mistake, those who continue to commit crime will be brought to justice, but we must explore every avenue possible to break the cycle of offending in some individuals.”