16 villains quit crime for a year

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A PROJECT to keep hardened villains on the straight and narrow has seen 16 people from Dacorum stay crime-free for a year.

Under the programme the county’s 200 most prolific criminals – calculated to be responsible for a fifth of all acquisitive crime including burglary and robbery in Herts – were identified and offered support in a range of areas.

Twenty eight were from Dacorum and a year on 16 are crime-free, of which seven have done so well they have been discharged early from the scheme.

It has been calculated that each of the 200 cost society £178,500 a year in terms of goods stolen and police and court time.

Each criminal was seen regularly and given support in areas such as education, employment, drugs and alcohol, families and behaviour.

Seventy of the 200 stayed crime-free for the year while overall crime committed by the cohort was cut by 41 per cent.

Det Insp Dianne Watson, who heads up Herts Horizons, said: “This programme is about getting to the root of what’s causing the offending and giving offenders the opportunity to turn their lives around.

“The agencies can offer support in a number of ways but it’s not a soft option. What we do is use the carrot and stick.

“If they prove themselves over a period of time, we will give them more voluntary work. This way they can start to build up their CV and can move into the workplace. We are trying to get them to a point where they can move on to a life without crime.”