A NORTH-EAST police force has won global praise for its pioneering programme to turn offenders away from crime.

Checkpoint, set up by Durham Constabulary, was named the winner of the 2019 Goldstein Award for problem-solving in policing at a ceremony held in Santa Cruz, California.

The innovative 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 per cent less than those who were dealt with by other traditional criminal justice methods. 

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.

Durham Police Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “When setting up Checkpoint we put in the rigorous academic work and measurable 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”.

She added: “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”.