A welcome message from our Chairman, Stuart Toogood
I am a serving Police Officer with the West Midlands Police Service and the very proud Chairman of the NBCS Foundation.
In 2018, I created the West Midlands Police Offender to Rehab Programme, which is supported by the WMP OPCC and many businesses. This programme is all about rehabilitation. It serves to offer those prolific retail/business crime offenders in addiction the opportunity to attend rehab, as well as engaging in other recovery pathways. This has saved many lives, reduced crime, and prevented money going into the illegal drugs economy. It has also reduced incidents of threats/violence to shop workers. I am incredibly proud that the programme won the 2022 Howard League for Penal Reform Award (Adults & Policing Category). This is a highly prestigious award to receive and is testament of the programmes value.
More from Stuart
So why do I value rehabilitation so much?
Let me tell you about a lad named Simon. I knew him as a young Police Officer, 25 years ago. He was a prolific shoplifter and had a heroin/crack addiction. I knew nothing about addiction and arrested him time and time again. 25 years later, I found him again. He was still in active addiction and committing crimes and had been to prison many times. It was our programme that stopped this cycle of offending. He is now 12 months clean and sober and living a good life in so many ways. And of course, he does not commit crime anymore! That is what rehabilitation can achieve and why I am such a big fan of those organisations that seeks to help others. But of course, we all need help. The NBCS were an early supporter of our programme, and we were invited to present at their conference in 2019. Their support helped us to bring to light our work and to inform others about the power of addiction and the direct link, in many cases, to incidents of shop/business crime and risk to staff. I was particularly proud of the fact that some of our clients were brave enough to stand up at these events and tell their stories in order to make people stop, think, and realise that rehabilitation was crucial if we are to truly address these issues. It showed that recovery was possible, and people can change with the right resources and support.
We will always need other protective industry methods to tackle business crime. Rehabilitation is incredibly valuable but is not a ‘quick fix’ solution. It is however, a tool, in the preventative toolbox and should work side by side other measures. People who want to change, should be supported to change. It is certainly the case that there are many branches to the rehabilitation tree – what works for some may not work for others. It has become apparent, that there are some truly inspiring rehabilitative projects in our communities. Virtually all these organisations rely on passionate people, to support and drive them forward and all need funding to exist – they need our help. So, when Peter Fisher asked me my views on creating a new national charity specifically to support such cases, I agreed immediately.
The NBCS Foundation can really make an impact. By raising money from events and donations, and with the continued support of the business community, we will be able to grant funding to rehabilitative organisations, nationally supporting their projects, as well as continuing to fund rehab placements where appropriate. I think the Governments 10 years Drugs strategy ‘From Harm to Hope’, is a step in the right direction and puts an emphasis on rehabilitation’. Considering that over 70% of retail theft is not reported and actioned effectively and with the prison population of over 82,000 and growing, we need to do something different.
So, the NBCS Foundation I feel has come at the right time. It is my view that it should be seen as ‘Our Foundation’ – a way in which those who contribute, can make a real difference to organisations nationally who are all striving to make a difference and whose projects, have an impact on reducing crime in this sector.
Thank you all for your support.