AN innovative drug treatment scheme – praised by Sir Richard Branson – is to be rolled out across the whole of Birmingham after an earlier trial found the reduction in shoplifting saved local businesses an estimated £2.3 million.
The Offender to Rehab programme is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner – Simon Foster – and is the brainchild of West Midlands Police Officer Stuart Toogood.
The pilot in the east of Birmingham started in 2018 and was so successful that it has recently received praise by a group of MPs in parliament who suggested it should be adopted by regions throughout the UK.
The expansion of the project will cost £100,000.
The initiative sees drug rehabilitation experts support addicts who are stealing to feed their addiction, with the aim of getting them off drugs and away from crime.
The pilot study in Erdington is thought to have prevented a staggering £800,000 from ending up in the hands of dealers by supporting addicts to turn their back on drugs.
It’s estimated that 70 per cent of shoplifting is carried out by people who frequently take class A drugs.
Over the last three years 14,688 incidents of shop theft have been reported to West Midlands Police.
As well as saving lives, the programme is specifically designed to cut crime by helping people recover from their addiction and therefore take away their need to steal. It also helps to reduce violence towards shop workers.
PC Stuart Toogood, said: “We have already helped several prolific retail offenders with severe heroin and crack cocaine addiction.
“These are people who have been ‘in the system’ for years having fallen through the cracks.
“We estimate that we have saved local retailers more than £2million by preventing thefts of their goods and we’ve stopped nearly £1m going into the hands of drug dealers.
“Importantly, we have also reduced the level of violence towards shopkeepers.
“This is a team effort and we thank all of the rehab centres, including Seasons, Livingstone House, Changes UK and Lindale Recovery for their support.”