Two years ago, Jamie’s life was spiralling out of control.
Hooked on heroin, all he cared about was getting his next hit and didn’t care how he got the money to get it.
To fund his habit, Jamie, 33, stole from shops across Hull. He didn’t even consider trying to conceal what he was doing, or avoid being caught on CCTV. All he could think about was getting more drugs.
As a result, his life became a never-ending cycle of being sent to prison for a few weeks, immediately shoplifting to buy heroin as soon as he was released, being caught and sent back to jail.
But now that’s all changed. He’s drug free, rebuilding his relationship with his parents and hasn’t committed any crimes for seven months.
And though he had to make the decision to change his life himself, he couldn’t have done it without the help and support of our Integrated Offender Management (IOM) team.
“You can sleep easy – we will stop offenders committing crime”
This dedicated team works directly with our area’s most prolific offenders, going to ‘any legal length’ to stop them from committing crime.
Whether they choose to let us help them on the path to rehabilitation or we have to lock them up, one way or another we will prevent them from offending.
Detective Sergeant Ian Holland said: “Rest assured, you can sleep easy that we are actively targeting these offenders.
“There is no legal length we won’t go to to stop them committing crime – whether that’s by offering them the support they need to turn their lives around and stop offending, or by arresting them, so they end up in prison.”
In the Hull area we currently have 70 people going through the IOM programme, 25 of which are classed as ‘gold offenders’ who are intensively monitored by the proactive team.
They are selected on the basis of the risk they pose to the public, both in terms of how serious their crimes are and how often they are offending.
The remaining 45, who are lower risk but still require monitoring and support, are overseen by our Neighbourhood Policing Teams
DS Holland added: “We target the most prolific offenders in a wide variety of offences and look to put them on the path to rehabilitation.
“We do this by working very closely with a number of partner agencies, from drug support services and probation, to housing agencies and employers.
“If they choose not to do that, the other path is enforcement and we’re also very good at that.”
The process often starts when an offender is still in prison, where they’re offered the chance to do courses that will give them a better chance of getting work on their release.
DS Holland said: “We have partners in the prison service who work with these offenders and inform us of what they have been doing in prison.
“For instance, they could be put on to a brick laying course. We can put them in touch with an employer who could give them a building job and help them get the appropriate qualifications – such as Health and Safety accreditation, so their rehabilitation can continue when they come out.”
By being involved in forging these links, it also allows us to monitor the offender’s progress and act fast if they start to slip back into old habits.
DS Holland added: “If they decided not to go in to work, the partner will tell us. That’s an alarm bell.
“We will then go and visit them straight away and find out what’s going on. We might find out they have taken drugs the night before, which is a massive relapse and could see them being recalled back to prison for breaching their licence conditions.
“It might be that they just need a warning and that will push them back towards the rehabilitation pathway, so they can continue a life without crime.
“It’s not a case of trying to catch them out. It’s a case of trying to help them not to commit further offences.”
There’s no one size fits all solution
The help offered by the IOM team and our partners is individually tailored to the offender, as to be successful, there is no one size fits all approach.
PC Adele English, who also works in our proactive team, said: “It depends what the problem is in their life.
“For some in can be drug addiction, others may be homeless. What we do is find the right partner agency to help them deal with their particular issue and support them through the process.
“Sometimes that is enough to stop them committing crime. For example, if someone is addicted to drugs and we help them to get onto drug treatment, they start going there and get over that problem, they don’t need to commit crime to fund their habit.”
DS Holland added: “For others the issue is housing.
“People like the Vineyard Project, Humbercare, Emmaus are fantastic in terms of providing accommodation. The local hostels – Dock House, William Booth, Crossings are also really good at assisting in this. They try their best and they are really good at providing accommodation.
“Once they have got stable accommodation it gives us a starting point. If you don’t have the accommodation you don’t have that. You’re asking them to sofa surf and you don’t know where they’re going to be living.”
It may sound simplistic but the system is proving a very effective tool at preventing offenders committing crime.
DS Holland said: “I have been in CID for more than 20 years. When I first came in we used to regularly get offenders in for house burglary, look at other reports of crimes with the same MO and find that they’d committed lots more offences.
“They would often be charged with three or four sample counts but end up admitting to more than 100 offences, details of which would be put before the court and they’d be sentenced for them all.
“What I have found when we arrest IOM offenders is that it’s very rare that they have committed any other offences – we don’t give them the chance.
“As soon as we get an indication that they are involved in crime, we act straight away and get them in custody as soon as possible.”
Another tool used by the team is the Buddi Tag – which offenders can volunteer to wear on their ankle and shows officers where they are and how fast they’re moving 24 hours a day.
We currently have 30 tags in active use and it is a great way for offenders to prove that they are trying to reform.
DS Holland said: “It stops a lot of people from offending as they know they can’t get away with it when they’re wearing it.
“For some the reason they wear it is to prove that they’re not committing crime, they’re not going to places where they were previously offending and they’re not going into areas they are excluded from. We can also quickly rule them out as suspects, as we can easily see if they were in the area a crime was committed, which saves a lot of work, time and effort.
“However we stop people from committing crime, it’s rewarding work but what we’re always aiming for is for someone to be rehabilitated.
“It’s a gradual thing and it may take two, three, four years or even more. But, at the end of it, you can look back and go ‘yes, they’re doing great, they’re working and they’re not offending’ and that’s a great feeling.”
ABOVE LEFT: Everyone who comes into our custody on suspicion of burglary or theft is given a drugs test, so that if they are committing crime to fund an addiction, we can point them towards the help they need to stop it.
ABOVE RIGHT: A Buddi tag is worn on the ankle and allows us to see where an offender is 24 hours a day.
At the age of 33 – and with the help and support of his family and the IOM team – Jamie is starting to turn his life around. Here he shares his story about how he became addicted to heroin and the impact it had on his life.
“I was 14 when it started. I started smoking cannabis with my best friends.
“It wasn’t peer pressure – we were all smoking it. It was just what we did.”
In an effort to get Jamie away from ‘the bad crowd’ the family moved away from their home in east Hull to a nearby village.
They hoped this would be a new start for Jamie. That he’d get a job, learn to drive and put the past behind him.
However, instead, it was here that Jamie first tried heroin.
He said: “I got in with the wrong people. I found the worst kid in the village. That’s how it started – how I started using.
“I remember I wanted some cannabis and I couldn’t get none. The kid turned around and said ‘I can get this’ and I just tried it
“Fourteen years later I was still using. (Addiction) creeps up on you to be honest. You just do it and before you know it you’re waking up and you don’t feel well.”
Before he knew it, he was stealing from his parents, taking cameras, jewellery – even his mum’s clothes to sell to fund his habit.
His first brush with the law was after he stole a handbag that was left outside a shop. He was caught, charged and jailed for a month but as soon as he was released, he turned straight back to crime.
Jamie said: “I got out and I just started again. Over and over. It was every day. I just needed for money for drugs. I didn’t care who I hurt – even my family. When you’re addicted to something you don’t care about anyone to be honest.
“I wasn’t going into shops and taking things sneakily. I just went in and took what I wanted. I was going to prison and I would get out and be back in within two days.
Two years ago he decided enough was enough.
At the same point, our Integrated Offender Management (IOM) team took on Jamie as a gold offender, offering the help, support and advice he needed to start getting his life back on track.
PC Karl Freeman was the lead officer in Jamie’s case and whenever Jamie or his family needed him, he was there.
Jamie said: “If I could have a second chance at life then I would do it differently. Of course I would. I’d be working – I would do it properly.
“I’m doing alright. I’m not saying it’s easy because it isn’t. I wake up nearly every day and think about drugs. But it’s good having family support. My mam sticks by me all the time.
“Karl has helped me a lot. I have been anti police obviously, but Karl is alright.
“At first Karl took me to appointments and supported me with probation. I got a lot of support from him.
“I’d been wanting to get out of this for years, so I did. I wanted to do it myself, but IOM helps.
“It’s a powerful thing heroin. It gets you. You wake up every day and you think about drugs but I take each day as it comes.
“I haven’t got friends. All my ‘friends’ were associates who I used with. They’re not my friends. I haven’t got friends – it’s me and my mum every day.
“I’ve missed a lot of life – a lot of years. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
“My next thing is to get a job. I am struggling at the minute – it’s hard with my past, but I would take anything. If it comes along, I will take it.
“It’ll all fall into place for me eventually. I’ve just got to be patient and take one day at a time.”
Jamie’s mum shares her story
When a loved one becomes addicted to drugs, it’s not only them who has to live with the consequences. Here Jamie’s mum talks about her heartbreak and her determination never to give up on her son.
As a mother of a drug addict, you’re constantly waiting for bad news. It’s a nightmare. I just feel sorry for anyone who is going through it – it’s horrendous.
When he was on the drugs and he was out and about, you don’t know where he is. You’re sat at home waiting for the phone to ring or a knock on the door.
You just think is he laid in an alleyway somewhere? Is he laid in a flat? Is anybody helping him? You just can’t explain it to someone who hasn’t been through it.
It’s devastating, but at the end of the day, he’s my son. I love him to bits but I was devastated. It broke us – completely broke us.
We never sheltered him from the police. If they came around looking for him, we would tell them where he was. If he was arrested or he was in prison, we knew he was safe.
We never gave up on him and we were always there for him.
When he’s not on drugs he’s the most loving, caring, helpful son I could wish for. We go everywhere together.
I think the IOM scheme is really good. As a mother, you just know that you have got that support.
Jamie relapsed and I rang Karl up and said ‘look, he’s in trouble again’. He was down at our house within half an hour. He got Jamie on his own and gave him a good talking to.
If I was ever worried about him again, I would just ring Karl up and say ‘I think something’s going on. Can you come down?’ You know that you’ve got that back up.
I lost a lot of years with him and I feel the way he is now, I have got my son back.