Praise for St Albans career burglar who escaped offending cycle to set up his own business

PUBLISHED: 08:13 05 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:15 05 October 2015

A St Albans burglar has turned his life around.

A St Albans burglar has turned his life around.

(c) Digital Vision.

A career criminal addicted to burglary has turned his life around after completing a tough rehabilitation programme, which he ‘hated’.

How the rehab programme works:

Hertfordshire’s choices and consequences (C2) programme is run by the police in partnership with the probation service, drug service and other third party agencies under the direction of the resident Judge, HHJ Carroll, at St Albans Crown Court.

Launched in 2007, it was the first of its kind in the country, and aims to offer prolific criminals a realistic opportunity to break free from a cycle of crime for the long term.

Since then, it has resulted in reducing the number of victims of crimes in the county.

Potential candidates wishing to be considered as acceptable to take part in it must demonstrate their wish to rehabilitate by admitting all past offences.

They are then assessed by the Probation Service, and the courts decide if the criminals are suitable – if so, their sentence is deferred while they undertake the regime.

But it is not aimed at people who have committed violent offences.

Offenders spend their days attending drug treatment and doing motivational work. Unpaid work is part of the community order, and there is a strong emphasis on education and training to give offenders a sustainable way of earning a living.

Several years ago Adam Pearson, 26, of St Albans was initially charged with committing seven burglaries.

But, as part of the conditions to be considered for Hertfordshire’s choices and consequences programme, he also admitted to 239 other offences he had previously committed to be taken into consideration.

When Pearson appeared at St Albans Crown Court recently to accept his certificate of completion of the programme, he was congratulated by Judge Carroll.

A Herts Police spokesman explained that Pearson was given a 36-month community order in 2012, during which time he has had to adhere to strict conditions in order to stay on the programme, and avoid serving the full sentence for all the crimes he has admitted to.

When it comes to sentencing for a burglary, particularly domestic theft, guidance from the CPS suggests anything from 26 weeks’ custody for a low level offence, to up to six years in jail for more serious offences, depending on aggravating and mitigating factors.

Detective Inspector Craig Flint, who manages the rehabilitation course, said: “This is a particularly tough programme for these individuals. Adam himself said that he hated the regime, and it took around two years for him to understand the benefits.

“This is an example of [a person] who has addressed his addiction and attained some education and computer skills to develop a web-based business.

“While he has been supported by agencies including police, probation and drugs services, the credit lies with Adam for showing the will to tackle his addiction.”

Det Ins Flint said that prolific offenders could become “trapped in a cycle of offending that is hard to break, leaving them little option but to commit crime to make a living.

“They are unable to find employment due to criminal records, and a variety of issues from poor education to limited social skills and they need a lot of help to change.

“The programme gives them that chance to change, which benefits local communities in the longer term.”

He warned, however, that if such criminals are unable to successfully rehabilitate themselves, they “face swift and severe consequences if they choose to carry on offending”.

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