Pioneering approach to breaking cycle of crime in “chaotic” families


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A pioneering approach to dealing with “chaotic” families in Flintshire has been developed by the police to break a vicious circle of crime.

The initiative was explained to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick during a visit to Connah’s Quay.

According to Inspector Dave Jolly, the aim is to ensure the next generation don’t repeat the mistakes of their parents.

He revealed the pilot programme has been so successful that, with the help Mr Roddick,  a bid for funding is being made to the Home Office so their work can been expanded.

It was, he explained, a slow process but one that would ultimately reduce criminality and lead to fewer victims.

Inspector Jolly said: “We are doing more community based interventions working other agencies to address their needs as opposed to criminalising them.

“We’re able to have frank conversations with these people and get them to recognise how their chaotic behaviour is not only affecting them but also their immediate family, their children and their children’s children.

“We may not be able to stop mum or dad abusing alcohol or drugs but we might be able to change the behaviour of their children and that they don’t replicate that behaviour.

“It’s a slow process but we recognise we can’t keep feeding the beast which is demand and not try and change the behaviours of the actual perpetrators.

“The process will only work when the individuals recognise what their problems are and that we agree with them what is an outcome – it might be they want to gain employment or go through rehab or something simple.

“We look at a number of criteria for complex families which can include adverse childhood experiences which ,may have seen their mums and dads hurting each other and their perception of what is the norm can be slightly warped.

“We will work with anybody who presents a number of complex needs – substance abuse, alcohol abuse, adverse childhood experiences, unemployment, a history of early pregnancies – and as opposed to us going there and tackling what we see as the problem it’s about looking at the root causes.

“It could be that mum and dad are fighting because they’re in crisis because they are in debt, little Johnny has been truanting from school – and understanding the bigger picture.

“Our aim is to put in a fix that is sustainable and that we can put a buddy system around them so that when they are in crisis they can speak to their support network rather than ringing 999 or presenting at A and E.

“In the long term it’s reducing the burden on society as a whole as well as the  police and the other emergency services.

“People who are abusing drugs or who are alcohol dependent may be causing anti-social behaviour and committing crimes to feed their habit, so that impacts on local businesses and the health and well-being of people in general.

“These individuals have a revolving door approach where they’re going to a number of agencies and we have recognised we can’t work in silos – we need to have a more concerted approach about how we manage these needs.

“It’s about turning people’s lives around not just for their sake but for the sake of the next generation.

“The aim is for that positive approach to continue and to make Deeside a better place for everybody.

Commissioner Roddick said he was pleased to support the bid for funding.

He said: “You would be surprised how much pressure a few families create for policing and for other statutory authorities and social services. A few families create a lot of pressure, a lot of trouble.

“The old approach was to arrest, prosecute and maybe imprison them but we now approach the problem in order to try and solve it.

“The aim is to better understand what’s causing the problem and assist those families to solve their own problems and it is working to great success.

“Some people find themselves in vicious circle of crime and punishment simply because they cannot get out of it.

“With a bit of help – and there’s nothing quite like a bit of help – they can pull themselves free. That’s very, very important for children and young people generally  because the next generation will behave rather differently

“It makes it better for the family, better for the neighbours and better for the police. Everyone’s a winner.”

The hew approach was also welcomed by Cllr Eric Owen, deputy chair of the residents’ association at the Pen y Llan flats, where Mr Roddick and his deputy, Julian Sandham, also visited.

Cllr Owen said: “I am very pleased to see the Commissioner  here and taking an interest.

“I welcome the new approach because a cycle can be broken. The problems tend to run in families and if you can break that chain the next generation will behave differently.”

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