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A woman from Staffordshire, who spent time behind bars following a history of theft and related offences, has admitted she might not be here today if it wasn’t for the “honesty” of the team behind her rehabilitation.
Staffordshire’s IOM (Integrated Offender Management Team) is a partnership agency that consists of police, probation, health services and other agencies within the community that helps prevent people, subject to a community order or on licence, from reoffending by addressing the crime that’s been committed.
The aim is to rehabilitate and prevent the return to prison whilst reducing the number of victims.
Natalie*, who’s been known to the criminal justice system since 1997, has now turned her life around following a difficult start to life – involving a turbulent personal life and substance misuse.
She said: “I was on drugs from the age of 12 and not long after that I started offending. I was in and out of prison from the age of 16 and I couldn’t get out of it. I was hurting people that didn’t deserve to be hurt and I was in a bad way.
“There was a reason I took drugs and I didn’t want to change. When I tried to change, I tried to do it for other people but things are different since I agreed to work with IOM.
“They’ve done a lot to bring me to where I am now and, although I can’t change the past, I can now look at moving forward to the future. I won’t look back and that’s down to them.
“They key to it all is honesty. I was struggling at first and didn’t tell them a lot of things and that led to me messing up last year.
“However, I’ve since been able to tell them when something’s wrong, if I feel down or when I falter and that honesty has really helped, because they’ve been really honest with me too. If you’re not honest, you’re not getting anywhere. Tell them how you feel or if you’ve done something and they can work around it and help you to move forward.
“I couldn’t thank them enough. They believed in me and never gave up on me and because of that I had more faith and belief in myself. I had the courage to move forward, something I didn’t have beforehand. They cared and that made me want to become a better person.
“They truly care about you as a person and want to help. We’ve got a great relationship and, although I’ve now finished my licence, they’re still there for me should I need it.
“It’s completely turned my life around and I’ve now got people who trust in me. These guys have helped me get my family back when I had nothing. Nobody wanted to know me, when I was in the situation I was in - on drugs and in prison. I’m now clean and understand why my family acted in the way they did. I’ve now got everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m moving forward with my life – something I didn’t think possible before.
“There are a lot benefits to this and I feel so good that I’m a different person. If I didn’t get recalled I’m not sure I’d still be here.”
Probation Officer, Kerry Wright said; “The progress made is all down to Natalie. She’s wanted to make a change and she has. The IOM has helped massively by providing a more cohesive support structure around her and we’re proud of her – she’s come such a long way.”
Lesley Webb’s an IOM Constable who worked with Natalie. She said; “Without he IOM I can’t see how we would effectively reduce and manage crime in any other way and striking up strong relationships with people like Natalie has been key.
“We completed a pathway assessment of her and have helped her turn her life around because she wanted it. She hasn’t reoffended since 2018 and continues to make positive progress with her life. It’s great news.”
You can hear more on Natalie’s story and the work done by the Integrated Offender Management team by tuning in to The Beat Podcast by Staffordshire Police.
*Natalie is not her real name. We’ve changed her name to protect her identity.