A pioneering programme to turn offenders away from crime has been named the best in the world at a prestigious awards scheme.
Checkpoint, set up by Durham Constabulary, has been named winner of the 2019 Goldstein Award for problem-solving in policing at a ceremony held in Santa Cruz, California.
The innovative Checkpoint programme beat competition from around the world after judges heard that those who undergo the four-month intervention programme were far less likely to reoffend than those who go down more traditional criminal justice routes, such as magistrates’ court orders or police cautions.
With many offenders trapped in a revolving door of crime, Checkpoint attempts to break the cycle and helps them change their lives by addressing their underlying problems such as alcohol and drug addiction.
Trial results show that the reoffending rate for those who complete Checkpoint is 16% less than those who were dealt with by other traditional criminal justice methods.
The difference means there have been hundreds of fewer victims of crime in County Durham and Darlington over that period.
Since the start of the programme, just over 2,500 people have completed the Checkpoint programme. Following its success, Checkpoint is now being replicated across the country, with similar schemes under consideration in Sussex, Cleveland, North Wales, Surrey, and Devon & Cornwall.
Chief Constable Jo Farrell, from Durham Constabulary, said: “When setting up Checkpoint we put in the rigorous academic work and measureable evidence base which now allows us to say with certainty that the programme works in reducing reoffending”.
“To be frank, we knew at the start there were those who would try to categorise Checkpoint as a soft option, but the results speak for themselves – the programme has been proven to be extraordinarily effective in changing the lives of people who might have previously been labelled as being beyond the reach of help..
“We can be absolutely confident that Checkpoint makes a real difference in helping offenders turn their lives around and begin to make a useful contribution to society.
“Perhaps more importantly, reducing the number of repeat offenders means reducing crime across the force area, which ultimately means fewer victims having to cope with the impact of criminal behaviour.
“We are absolutely delighted to have that extraordinary success given worldwide recognition with a Goldstein Award.”
Suitable offenders who meet the agreed criteria embark on an intensive four-month bespoke contract to identify and deal with the causes of their offending.
They work with a Navigator who supports them on this journey, introducing them to suitable intervention programmes and encourages them to change their attitudes, thinking and behaviour.
Steve White, acting Police Crime and Victims Commissioner added: “It is fantastic that a scheme designed, developed and grown in Durham has been awarded this prestigious award.
“This innovative scheme really is leading the way in revolutionising the way in which low-level offending is managed, not only here but across the country..
“It is a classic example of the innovation which can be found within Durham Constabulary, and the positive impact it can have when aiming to prevent people from becoming a victim of crime by addressing the root causes behind why people reoffend.”
The Goldstein Awards were established by the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, based at Arizona State University, to promote innovative thinking in policing to effectively address crime and disorder problems and is now into its 29th year.
Professor Michael Scott, chair of the judging committee, described Checkpoint as “a fine example of the problem-oriented approach to policing”.
He added: “This well-conceived and well–executed scheme addressed an endemic problem for police: reducing the harmful behavior of repeat offenders..
“The project was informed by sound criminological theory, analyzed the problem from a variety of data sources and perspectives, tailored interventions to each offender’s particular motivations and needs, nicely balanced the responsibilities of the different agencies responsible for managing criminal offenders, and rigorously evaluated the impact of the effort”.
A second Durham-based project – the Community Peer Mentors scheme – reached the finals of the awards for its innovative work with vulnerable and isolated people which has led to a fall in the number of calls to the police.
• Pictured above (left to right): Jim Cunningham, co-ordinator of the Community Peer Mentor scheme; Professor Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing; Superintendent Kevin Weir, of Durham Constabulary’s Checkpoint team; Stephanie Kilili, from the office of Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner and Detective Inspector Andy Crowe, of Durham Constabulary’s Checkpoint team.