Tees

Three perspectives on tackling reoffending on Teesside

The government is expected later this year to unveil measures to tackle the problem of record criminal reoffending rates.

Recent government figures say Durham and Tees Valley has the joint highest rate of reoffending in the country, along with Merseyside.

Thirty per cent of offenders in the area commit further crimes within 12 months.

The Ministry of Justice is currently holding a consultation into effective "punishment and reform", looking at how to stop offenders repeatedly cycling through the criminal justice system.

On Teesside three people, with three different experiences of crime, have their own ideas.

The victim

Image caption Rape victims are granted perpetual anonymity under law

Jo, from Darlington, was raped in 2004. Six years later she met her attacker.

"It was absolutely fantastic. I wanted to get my feelings across to him."

She believes restorative justice - allowing offenders to come face to face with victims - can help cut reoffending.

"I'd been told that he'd been doing victim empathy work in prison.

"But nobody could tell him exactly what he'd done to me and my family apart from me," she said.

"He hadn't considered the wider family. He hadn't considered what he'd done to my mum, my dad and my husband, no-one had spoken to him about that.

"He did apologise and it was sincere - he was crying when he said it - and I have been told since that he's making fantastic progress now."

The former re-offender

Jodie Hind, from Stockton, has spent most of his adult life in prison.

"I think it happened early, somewhere in childhood, something wasn't quite right.

"I never felt I belonged anywhere. I had a father who was alcoholic," he said.

His use of legal terms and criminal slang betray his past - he talks about "twocing" and "taking without consent" - what people outside the justice system would call stealing cars.

Image caption Jodie Hind says he has spent 70 per cent of his adult life in prison

He progressed through theft and drug dealing to burglary, once addiction had "set in".

"I just could not put the drugs down," he said.

"I was beat into submission, I'd had enough. I'd simply had enough.

"There was nowhere else I could go. I was either going to die or spend the rest of my life in prison."

His father stopped drinking and set him a "good example" which Jodie felt he had to follow although "the damage had set in".

"What I had to do was stop blaming everything in and about me, family, whatever had happened.

"Putting my hand up and asking for help. I had to make every effort that I could. I still do it.

"I'm not out the woods now. I'm still the same Jodie, nothing much has changed.

"And that's all I can do - keep it honest and to the next person maybe give them hope that they too can do it."

He is now part of a programme which tries to offer offenders, through the experience of former criminals, an alternative to a life of crime.

The judge

Image caption Judge Peter Fox said "relative poverty" had an effect on re-offending rates

The most senior judge on Teesside, Judge Peter Fox QC, says alcohol, drugs and the poor state of the economy has played a role in rates of re-offending in the north-east of England.

"I think time on a young man's or, for that matter, a young woman's hands is a very serious matter," he said.

"That's not to say there wasn't serious crime in this region when there was full employment, there was, but that was for different social reasons, I think.

"I think seeing a lot of luxury and affluence around you and not having any hope of having a slice yourself may be a factor.

"And then I pass a sentence which I hope will deter the person - but you can't lock everyone up.

"To say you want to stop re-offending is really to say you want to stop offending."

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