Innovative crimefighting approach sees drastic cut in offending

AN INNOVATIVE multi-agency crimefighting approach has cut offending by the most prolific criminals in East Sussex by a third.

The latest figures, for the year 2009/10, show 87 offenders were part of the Prolific and Priority Offending scheme in East Sussex. In the 12 months they were part of the scheme that group of offenders committed 182 crimes, compared to 273 the previous year – a reduction of 33 per cent.

The PPO scheme is part of the county’s Integrated Offender Management project, a partnership between Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust, Sussex Police, local authorities, youth offending and other agencies that work with offenders.

It targets repeat offenders who research has shown commit a disproportionate amount of crime. It is estimated that approximately 10 per cent of offenders are responsible for half of all crimes, and that a very small proportion of offenders are responsible for every one in 10 offences.

Under PPO, offenders are subject to intensive supervision when released from prison and under supervision in the community. Typically this will involve reporting to a number of agencies up to four times a week to address the reasons behind why they offend. That could include probation, police and substance misuse providers.

Leighe Rogers, Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust’s offender management director for East Sussex, said, “Very often the people who commit the most crimes are driven by drug and alcohol addiction – stealing to fund their habits and commit other crime as a result of a chaotic lifestyle.

“This has a huge impact on communities and families in the county.

“The PPO scheme recognises that these offenders have very complex needs and problems which contribute to their offending which can’t always be addressed by a single agency. That could include homelessness, unemployment, substance misuse or debt.

“These re-offending figures show that working in partnership and targeting our resources in this way is having a real impact on reducing re-offending and crime.”

Integrated Offender Management operates out of SSPT offices in Eastbourne and Hastings. The teams are staffed by a pool of probation officers, collocated police officers, health workers and housing workers.

The scheme is jointly funded by Surrey Sussex Probation Trust, Sussex Police, NHS Sussex, East Sussex County Council and the County Community Safety Partnerships.