Safer Merton, a partnership made up of Merton Council, the police and other agencies, has been praised by government ministers for its work to rehabilitate addicts who steal to fund their habits.
The Merton Adult Crack Service (MACS) had a visit from minister for crime reduction, Alan Campbell MP in January to celebrate the good work achieved by the service. The project targets newly released prisoners and those who have dropped out of other programmes, getting them back into treatment and stopping them turning to burglary and robbery to pay for drugs.
Under the scheme, funded by a vigilance programme grant, outreach workers go out to peoples’ homes or meet them in the community in order to help them beat their habits. The service is free, confidential and open to Merton residents who have been affected by substance misuse. Since starting in August 2009 the outreach workers have worked with 38 people who were not being supervised and helped them back into treatment.
Safer Merton has also used its vigilance grant to pay for additional police officers. It has introduced the integrated offender management approach, which allows it to increase the number of prolific and priority offenders (PPOs) under supervision.
Councillor Samantha George, Merton Council deputy leader, said:
‘Merton is consistently ranked as one of the safest boroughs in London and the success of programmes such as these demonstrates the excellent partnership work that helps put our residents’ needs first and keep them safe. Both the MAC service and the work that the prolific and priority offender team undertake help make a real difference to both the individuals who want to turn their lives around and to the wider community.’
Merton Police’s acting Chief Inspector for Partnerships, Helen Harper said:
‘Working with prolific offenders is not easy but the hard work and commitment shown by the teams involved in making these services a success has really paid off.
“Recent figures showed that Merton has significantly reduced the rate of re-offending – the best reduction rate in London – and through the police’s partnership work with probation, the council and other local agencies, we aim to continue this good work.’
The Vigilance Programme, which was launched in July 2009, will offer:
£3 million for intensive management of released prisoners who have served less than 12 months, to ensure that they don’t stay in the revolving door of re-offending; and
a diagnostic of the burglary and robbery challenges facing the CDRP. Based on this evidence, agreed action plans with the CDRPs will be followed by intensive support to implement the plans.