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Personal stories: Arron
31-year-old Arron lost more than ten years of his freedom as he repeatedly slipped back into a cycle of committing burglaries to fund his serious class A drug habit.
He received his first prison sentence when he was just 17. Less than a year later he found himself back inside again. In fact, the majority of Arron’s adult life has been spent in the prison system.
Arron has a long list of convictions. He has racked up – by his estimate – hundreds of burglaries since he started offending in his teenage years. A local police officer even told Arron that burglaries in his area halved whenever he was in prison.
Making a fresh startExpand to read more
But when Arron was released on licence early last year he was intent on making a fresh start before he reached his next birthday. Now nine months on he has lived up to his goal and he is marking a new milestone - his longest stretch outside the prison gate, clean of class A drugs and free of offending.
Arron said: “Shortly before my release, I read in a paper that if I didn’t stop going to prison by the time I was 30, it was likely I would never stop. With my 30th birthday fast approaching and the article in my mind, I decided it was time to change. I didn’t want to waste another ten years of my freedom.
“I realised if I continued to act the way I had in the past I would just keep going back to prison so I needed to change my attitude and accept the help KSS CRC was offering me.
“Being locked up my liberty was taken away, and I became a name, a number, and no more. I didn’t mind when I was younger and carefree but now I wanted to get out and make something of myself.”
The change in Arron’s attitude meant that when he was released from prison, this time, Ben Ely, a Police IOM Officer, and Sarah Cannon, a Probation Officer, were able to support him in his efforts to stay crime-free.
The right support at the right timeExpand to read more
Arron said maintaining his positive attitude since his release is thanks to the support of his Probation Officer and the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) scheme.
IOM is a multi-agency approach to managing the most prolific offenders – those who commit the most crimes and cause the most harm and damage. It involves agencies such as KSS CRC, police, local authorities and the NHS working together to tackle the root causes of offending.
Arron said: “The multi-agency support gave me the incentive to do right. It made me feel like I could do it. It’s like having lots of people all rooting for you to do well.”
“I use to avoid my problems but Sarah and Ben have given me more confidence to deal with them. I understand through their work that I have control over my decisions.”
“I also have more confidence to tell people to leave me alone if they are not good for me. I’m no longer a follower but a leader in this new chapter of my life.”
KSS CRC Probation Officer Sarah Cannon said: “Arron made a choice to change. IOM has just been a catalyst to help him to continue on his positive path.”
Arron and Sarah have worked together to identify the underlying issues Arron needs to address, and the support the agencies can offer him, to give him the best chance of staying crime-free. They included tackling his class A drug use, unemployment, accommodation, family relationship problems and consequential thinking.
During his licence, Arron has engaged well with IOM drug workers and the police. He has tested negative for class A drugs for the last nine months – which is the longest he has been drug-free since he was 14. He has done so well that the drug treatment agency has asked Arron to become one of their peer mentors. Arron has also successfully secured suitable accommodation and temporary employment.
Ben Ely, Arron’s Police IOM Officer, said: “Ninety-eight percent of what Arron has done is down to him. The IOM approach has helped with that other two percent. Because we are all working together, I have seen the good progress Arron is making and have been able to ensure I do not disrupt this. If Arron is in employment, I know to go and do a visit at his work rather than making him come into the probation office. Sarah and I can flex our approach to the individual. Some people aren’t ready to change and need more joint monitoring, but when like Arron they are, we can work together to offer them the support they require.”
Sarah said: “If Arron has a wobble, he knows that he can contact either Ben or I for advice, we are a united front.”
“Arron is very driven. He has been working with me to update his CV and sending it everywhere we can think to turn his temporary employment into something more permanent.”
“With Arron, we have helped to address his underlying issues and he is doing well. He is an excellent reminder that people can change when they have the right support.”
Photo (left to right): Probation Officer Sarah Cannon, Arron and Police IOM Officer Ben Ely