Yesterday I met ‘success’: A woman’s story of how she was turning her life around and it made me think.
Now I police a vibrant and interesting borough yet back in Spring 2012 there was a growing illegal drug supply problem. We set about tackling it.
Over some 4 months a lot of effort went into police and partners work to prevent and then catch and convict this locally based organised drugs gang. Observations, stop and search and information provided by the (frustrated) public led to almost two dozen warrants being executed as the Olympic torch was carried in triumph around Britain.
First we targeted drugs runners and where we could we shut down their “crack” houses as well as seeking their convictions at the courts. We were ‘successful’ and took back three properties in one week. This pressure meant that fewer and fewer people were prepared to carry drugs so we stepped up our game to catch the suppliers.
Once more we maintained continual pressure on these criminals and supported their neighbours who began to realise they did not have to put up with the anti-social behaviour associated with crime. Eventually we convicted all the dealers we had known of and some we found along the way. I was able to report on BBC Surrey that we had “ripped the heart out” of this organized crime organisation.
So with a couple of dozen convictions, a handful of crack house closures and the criminals’ network dispersed what had really changed?
Yesterday I found out:
A woman who we knew was a serious drug user stopped to speak to us. She was almost unrecognizable in her clean clothes and brushed hair. This was a girl who used to look haggard, skinny, with greasy hair and frankly she stank. During the Olympics she would have slunk away from any possible interaction with police. However yesterday she stopped to thank us.
“Thank you”, she said, “I’m no longer on the gear. I’m clean. Since you put away the dealers I’ve turned my life round. I have left all that scene behind.”
Surprised at the way the conversation had begun we asked, “How so?” and the answer was, “Well the suppliers daily texts offering drugs stopped and there’s less temptation. I’ve not seen them around either, I’ve made new friends and do different things. I’m working now.”
Brilliant – good on her and all credit too. This has been a triumph for the lass and I am sincerely greatful that she took time to tell us that the police and community safety partners had provided an opportunity so she could make positive changes.
Whilst this woman is doing well and crime continues to fall and we are feeling positive about it all – this sort of success is not reported anywhere. There will be no medals, no boxes ticked and in the debate about crime figures’ veracity this story will not change the experts views.
However it goes to prove that when you set out to “Do Good” there are often unexpected consequences. In every interaction we have with people however afflicted we must deal with them fairly if firmly and then we can empower them to change. That’s my measure of “Success”.