Belfast Telegraph

Police claim new scheme helping career criminals change direction

By Dave Whelan

A crackdown on career criminals in Castlereagh is delivering results after it effectively identified almost 50 prolific offenders in the area.

The Reducing Offending in Partnership (ROP) programme deals with criminals at various stages of the justice system and aims to tackle prolific offenders who commit crime such as robberies, burglaries or thefts and who impact most upon the community.

The partnership between the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, the PSNI, the NI Prison Service and the Youth Justice Agency arose after it was revealed that a small number of offenders are behind most crime.

Across Northern Ireland a total of 371 priority offenders are being managed under ROP by Reducing Offending Units (ROU), which operate in policing districts and in C District (Ards, Castlereagh, Down and North Down), the ROU manages 49 offenders.

There are three main strands:

•Prevent and Deter

•Catch and Control

•Rehabilitate and Resettle

Ian McGlade, area manager of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, said: "Through the three strands of this approach resources from each agency are directed where they are most needed - on the top offenders who commit the most crime. The evidence shows that this approach is working to reduce crime and keep communities safer".

Individual officers are assigned to each offender and attend all their court proceedings, ensure bail checks happen and meet with representatives fro m other agencies to discuss progress .

Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said: "As a selection process is used to identify priority offenders, this isn't an initiative that an offender will 'opt to join'. Offenders will be advised that they have been deemed a prolific offender by all of the partner agencies and as such their behaviour is being paid close scrutiny.

"They are offered support in the form of training, or counselling where an addiction may be the issue, to help them move away from crime, if they chose not to access this support they are advised that police will be relentless in their pursuit of them."

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