Agencies help reform offender to a happy christmas

Friday, 05 December, 2008

Kevin Sheehan

The Pembrokeshire Prolific & Priority Offenders (PPO) Scheme has helped one offender turn his life around.

The scheme is a partnership involving police, Probation, Youth Offending Team, Local Authority and many other agencies that offers the clients (PPOs) support and encouragement to stay out of trouble.

A multi-agency group case manages the individual, assesses their needs and addresses the issues that make them offend.

Individuals on the scheme are subject to police monitoring based on their previous criminal activity with the intention of reducing the rate of offending.

The main aims of the PPO scheme is to reduce the number of offences committed in Pembrokeshire by targeting PPOs thus helping to protect the public and to develop in the PPOs a sense of personal responsibility by encouraging them to improve their life skills and increase their levels of victim empathy.

PPO Co-ordinator, Wendy Butcher said: "The focussed multi-agency approach has proved the best way to tackle this priority group of offenders and to empower them to make the necessary changes in their lifestyle.

"Those nominated do not have a choice as to whether they become a PPO. If they are accepted onto the scheme they only have the option of co-operating or not co-operating with us. It's a typical 'carrot and stick' scenario.

"If they chose to co-operate they get support from ourselves and other agencies which can include help with accommodation, training and drugs or alcohol treatment.

"However, should they not co-operate they will be subject robust enforcement - either they reform or face a very swift return to the courts.

"There's no quick fix for tackling these offenders, but the Prolific & Priority Offender Scheme offers a robust end-to-end strategy to either help them stop offending or to stop them from offending."

Case Study

Last year Kevin Sheehan was committing crime, living rough on the streets of Pembrokeshire, numbing his misery with alcohol.
However this Christmas his future is a lot brighter thanks to the multi-agency approach of the Pembrokeshire Prolific & Priority Offenders Scheme.
He is now happily engaged, living out of the county and free from his alcohol addiction. He said: "I was out on the streets last year, not knowing what my life was about. I was out in the cold buying bottles of drink to help me sleep at night. I was living in hedges and under bridges. I was just giving up really."

Kevin came to the attention of the Pembrokeshire PPO team in April 2006, Co-ordinator Wendy Butcher said: "Kevin is probably better known locally as 'Wacky'. He had 35 convictions for 78 offences. His crimes ranged from shoplifting and anti-social behaviour to assault. He was regularly being arrested and had spent a lot of time in prison. He was sleeping rough after being evicted from a property due to alcohol related Anti-Social Behaviour and was subject to an ASBO. Many people saw him as a lost cause and turned their back on him, at that time the only place he felt accepted and welcome was the Pembrokeshire MIND Resource Centre.

"However, once introduced to the PPO Scheme Kevin engaged well and almost immediately reduced his offending behaviour. I was then able to help him to access support through several other agencies. He worked closely with the Drugs Intervention Programme (DIP) and West Wales Substance Misuse Service (WWSMS) for help with his substance misuse, as well as Tai Trothwy and Pembrokeshire Care Society for help finding accommodation. To be honest, it was always a pleasure working with Kevin - he is such a great character! I'm really glad that the multi-agency approach of the PPO team and all of his hard work has finally paid off. It's a really inspiring story."

Joint funded by PPO and DIP, Kevin was offered temporary B&B accommodation to get him off the streets and help him prepare for a residential rehab programme near Cardiff. Rehab was hard, but Kevin was kept going by daily phone calls from his fiancee and the promise of their future together. He hasn't touched alcohol now in seven months.
Kevin said: "The higher power and support from my family keeps me in line.
"I would like to thank my mother Cathy, PPO Co-ordinator Wendy Butcher, Dave from the Drugs Intervention Programme, Juliette from Tai Trothwy and Jackie Hemming and her team at MIND for their help and support, but especially my beautiful Ingrid who has given my life focus.
"It is nice to get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee in my own home. My fiancee handles all the bills and we have money left over to treat ourselves.
"I go to church every week now and really believe that I've been blessed. I never thought I'd settle down and be getting married. We're so happy!


The PRISM Drug Interventions Programme in Pembrokeshire assisted Kevin in his efforts to change his previous substance misuse behaviour and helped him to be able to undergo assessment for the possibility of rehab following a referral to West Wales Substance Misuse Service.

We supported him in his day to day living issues such as housing, accessing medical services, transport and benefits. We were also part funders of the temporary B&B accommodation that was provided for Kevin to keep him safe and well through a part of last winter.

We are delighted to see that rehab has been successful for him and that he has turned his life around and begun to rebuild it free from substance misuse and associated problems. DIP Worker, Dave said: "Excellent inter-agency co-operation has no doubt been a major contributory factor in this success story, as has his own determination to do it."

Tai Trothwy:

Trothwy is committed to working with service users and other agencies to enable service users to live independently and actively participate in their communities. Trothwy also work with individuals and communities to promote inclusion, encourage aspiration and to improve wellbeing. Trothwy are committed to embracing diversity and social justice and strive to be accessible to all.

Kevin Sheehan is one person who Trothwy has helped and supported since August 2007. Before joining the scheme, Kevin was homeless and had a lack of stability in his life leading to a chaotic lifestyle. But after support from Trothwy and engaging in weekly key working session, Kevin's life improved steadily and each week he went from strength to strength.

Trothwy work through a reciprocal approach and work with individuals in accordance with an agreed individual support plan. Trothwy help individuals maintain tenancy, build upon existing practical, self care and interpersonal skills and accessing training and employment opportunities. Working with individuals, Trothwy encourage individuals' rights and responsibilities as well as inclusion within communities.

Annette Brenchley, Pembrokeshire floating support project co-ordinator said: "It is fantastic that Kevin is doing so well. It is a testament that with a commitment to change and a willingness to engage in multi agency support services, positive life changes can occur. We wish Kevin continued success."

Pembrokeshire MIND:

After seven long years of what he called 'This Street Life' Kevin confounded the expectations of many and totally turned his life around. For seven years he had been sleeping rough from one biting cold winter to the next, drinking excessive quantities of alcohol to not only help him become numb to the cold and sleep, but to give him some kind of relief from his life and mental health issues. This is a trap that many homeless people fall into.

"I feel safer here, they deal with my problems, and they deal with my paper work" said Kevin in one of the many-filmed interviews we did with him before he went off to start his new life. It is sad but true, that during his 'Street Life' days, Pembrokeshire Mind was the only place where Kevin would be welcomed with a kind word, a smile, and most importantly support.
"If I didn't have this place I would be dead to tell you the truth, they would fill up my flask with soup for the night, give me sandwiches to get me going"

For those of you who were not fortunate enough to know, or even meet Kevin it is hard to convey in print what a charismatic, personable, and likeable fellow he is. Despite his charm, his life up until last year was one that many of us would have trouble surviving, the cold, the dangerous drinking, and the constant run-ins with the police coupled with is mental health issues obviously took their toll, but with the help of all at Pembrokeshire Mind and other services he has successfully turned his life around.

"The things that has really helped me out with my anger and my anxiety attacks in this place is drawing" said Kevin on one of the final paintings he did in our centre, a ferocious snarling wolf on canvas. Maybe a refection of the old him, as the new Kevin, is somewhat of a different man, he now lives out of the county alcohol-free with his partner and we wish him all the best.

"If I didn't have Pembrokeshire Mind I would be gone, end of story, end of chapter, end of book!"

Case study two

Another example of the swift and robust enforcement of the PPO Scheme is a Haverfordwest man who has been a PPO since the Scheme's inception in Pembrokeshire. He refuses to co-operate, continues to offend and as a reflection of that has spent almost 11 of the past 12 months behind bars.
After spending the first 5 months of the year in prison, he was released into the community on 12th May 2008. Only one month later on 12th June 2008 he was caught illegally driving a car, arrested and charged with driving whilst disqualified, driving with no insurance and public order. However, in line with national guidance he was released on police bail. The very next day he ignored the warnings given to him by the police and was caught yet again driving the same vehicle. He was arrested again and charged with driving without due care and attention, driving whilst disqualified and driving with no insurance. This time after showing a blatant disregard for the law, the individual was remanded in to custody until appearing in court on 16th June 2008. He was then found guilty and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for the motoring offences. As his offences were all linked to the same vehicle the court took the decision to confiscate his car.

However this PPO was unrepentant. Upon release from prison on 29th August 2008 he bought himself a motorbike. He was arrested on 31st August 2008 after failing to stop on the A40 and reaching speeds of over 120 mph. He was again remanded into police custody and charged with a plethora of motoring offences including driving whilst disqualified, drink driving, dangerous driving, failing to stop and driving without insurance. At court the PPO police team liaised with the CPS to ensure that all information about this individual's offending pattern was made available to the magistrates. He was eventually convicted of this long list of offences and on 17th October 2008 sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.

Case study three

A Pembroke Dock man was referred to the PPO Scheme in May 2008 due to the high number of offences he was committing in the Pembroke Dock area. This prolific offender was introduced to the scheme in June 2008. Once introduced, the PPO police team took over all investigations involving him. This freed up valuable time for the Pembroke Dock uniformed officers who were previously dealing with them.

The PPO police team conducted a thorough investigation into all of the offences and were able to provide the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with sufficient evidence for him to be charged in July 2008 with 13 offences, including 6 thefts, 1 handling stolen goods, 1 burglary, 2 assaults and 3 drug offences. This PPO was convicted and in October 2008 sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Pembroke Dock's Section Inspector Alan Millichip said: "I appreciate the role of the PPO police team in securing the conviction of this man and the expertise of the officers in pulling together the separate strands of the investigation. Their efforts have resulted in a prolific offender who was causing problems to the communities of Pembrokeshire being swiftly taken off our streets."

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