Online Support for Substance Misusing Offenders

The Gwent Office of the Police Crime Commissioner (OPCC) Regional Commissioning Manager (who has responsibility for the Gwent Drug Interventions Programme - DIP), Lyn Webber, will be joined by a number of service users and service providers at the Chambers House treatment centre in Blackwood this afternoon to launch the brand new Gwent DIP website www.gwentdip.org.uk and accompanying twitter account @gwentdip . The Chambers House centre in Blackwood is one of five bases across Gwent which DIP operates from.

DIP has been running in Gwent since 2006 and has become a commissioned service by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, since 2013. The rehabilitation of offenders is one of five themes which form part of the Commissioner's strategic commissioning intentions. From the point of arrest through to sentencing, imprisonment and resettlement into the community, DIP provides interventions for drug-misusing offenders throughout their criminal justice journey and aims to engage with them through various stages of the criminal justice process. In addition to the five bases across Gwent, DIP workers are also based in Police Stations, Courts and Prisons.

During regular feedback sessions, DIP clients often highlighted that there was not enough information online about where they could turn to for personalised advice and support after leaving prison or following arrest. The new mobile device friendly site launched today is a direct result of that feedback and will now offer a range of essential advice and support for substance misusers who come into contact with the criminal justice system in Gwent. DIP also provides advice, information and support groups for the friends and family of substance-misusing offenders and the new website will cater for their needs by providing them with all the essential information they need online.

Designed and developed in-house by the Digital Communications Team at Gwent Police, the new website provides information on what services substance misusers can contact for support; the various locations that DIP operates from in Gwent; the range of partners they work with to deliver their service; and essential links to other local substance abuse information and support groups. The website and twitter account will also provide up to date news and information about the latest developments in substance abuse prevention throughout the region and beyond.

One of the service users attending the launch today will be 52 year old David Griffiths from Blackwood. David started abusing heroin when he was 38 years old and has been battling with his addiction ever since. What initially started off as a recreational activity with friends every few weeks or so soon spiralled out of control and David began turning to crime to feed his addiction.

After being arrested for shoplifting, David came into contact with Gwent DIP and was introduced to the support he needed. Still in treatment, he hopes his story will detract other people from following the same path.

According to David, the new website and social media site will be an additional vital source of information for substance misusing offenders who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

"Taking heroin is the daftest thing I've ever done in my life and it's had a devastating effect," he says.
"The more people know about the help on offer the better. This programme has helped me a great deal and I've had lots of support. If you want somebody to talk to, you can just come here and there's always someone to talk to you. You can get a prescription from the Doctor here and it's the end of your worries.

You don't have to go shoplifting then or borrow money to buy drugs. They take your prescription dose down gradually to try and wean you off the heroin. It's a Godsend really and they'll help you in any way they can and get you into treatment as quickly as possible. I'd probably be leading a life of crime to fund my habit or stuck in prison if I didn't get support."

He added: "I just want my normal life back now from when I never used to take drugs. I just want to get a job and get my driving license back. I'll hopefully get there now thanks to the support from DIP and Kaleidoscope."

Highlighting the importance of the additional resources, the OPCC Regional Commissioning Manager for Gwent DIP, Lyn Webber, said: "Engagement with service users is essential and finding the right support can often prove difficult for some. These new online sites will provide a simple yet valuable source of information for people who are at their most vulnerable. As a unique reference tool, they will help us provide relevant and up to date information so that offending substance misusers and their families can find local services which can give them the essential support and knowledge they need."

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "I recognise the importance of supporting offenders to break free from the cycle of reoffending in order to help them rebuild their lives. Substance abuse is one of the many factors that can make it hard for people to break away from offending.

That's why I fund and support this programme. These additional online resources will now provide people with instant access to recovery and rehabilitation services which are absolutely key to my aim of reducing crime in Gwent by tackling the underlying causes of offending."

To access the new Gwent Drug Interventions Programme website, please log on to www.gwentdip.org.uk

Why not follow Gwent DIP on their new twitter account @gwentdip