The Choices and Consequences (C2) Programme is the first of its kind in the country. It aims to offer persistent and prolific criminals a realistic chance to break free from the cycle of crime, and in turn, reducing the number of victims.
The C2 Programme is supported by all partner agencies in the criminal justice system.
Working closely with the Hertfordshire Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), our officers identify suitable candidates, who must demonstrate their desire to rehabilitate by admitting all past offences. They are then assessed by the Probation Service.
Ultimately, the courts decide and, if suitable, their sentence is deferred for up to six months whilst they undertake an extensive rehabilitation regime that may include drug treatment, life skills training, education and employment.
They are then sentenced to three years community rehabilitation where they continue with intensive treatment and support.
In the community, offenders are subject to strict conditions which are rigorously enforced. Their treatment and training are managed by the Probation Service. If they are found to breach these conditions they will be put back before the court, where a judge may decide to give them a custodial sentence. This could be for all the offences they have admitted.
Who is the C2 Programme aimed at?
It is aimed at the county’s most prolific offenders who have committed a large number of criminal offences to fund their lifestyles.
The offenders must be over 18 and live in Hertfordshire. It is not aimed at people who have committed violent offences, but each case will be individually assessed.
Many offenders have voluntarily sought the programme's help even though they have to admit their offending and face the risk of custodial sentences. For them, the offer of help is what they know they need to enable them to change.
Most do it to fund an addiction of some sort, whether drugs, alcohol or gambling and so they are given the opportunity to access help according to their needs.
What happens on the programme?
It is not an easy option, and the offenders spend their days attending drug treatment, undertaking motivational work, drug tests, supervision with probation officers and unpaid work. There is also a strong emphasis on education and training.
Sentences handed down to the C2 candidates will be deferred for a period a set by the courts. They must deal with any addiction and not offend for a period of up to three years. If they do re-offend, they will be re-sentenced.
What are the benefits?
The benefits to the offender are clear. They have the opportunity to turn their back on a life of crime, address the issues that cause them to offend and seek a new crime-free life, not only for their benefit but for their friends and family.
C2 also provides an opportunity to give victims closure to previously undetected crimes, allowing them to feel safer in the knowledge that someone has admitted to their crime and is doing all they can to stop offending.
Each offender is debriefed about their crime, sharing essential knowledge with police about how they offend. They can pass on some extremely valuable knowledge of their methods and this information is used to inform police officers and let the public know how to avoid being victims.
The use of GPS enabled trackers was introduced to the C2 Programme in 2011. Being able to track offenders 24/7 means offenders can be eliminated from enquiries into other crimes. It also has a direct impact on their motivation not to re-offend.
The willingness of an offender to be tracked is in itself an indicator of their motivation to change.
Although used in this context for rehabilitative purposes, it is recognised that some offenders will be unable to maintain their desistance and will offend. Quickly identifying such offending is important to prevent further crime.
If you’re reading this and would like support through C2, you can speak to us.
Alternatively, get in touch with your Probation Officer.
It is not a soft option. It requires genuine dedication. You will need to admit to all your criminality, which means admitting to previously undetected offences that may well have otherwise always remained undetected. But others have done it and so can you.
A C2 success story
It’s been a long road for Dave* to break his cycle of drinking, gambling and stealing to feed his addictions but after serving two years in prison, a further four years on Hertfordshire’s Choices and Consequences Programme (C2) helped him to turn his life around.
Today the 57-year-old is running his own business. “I always worked as a chef, which led to drinking, which led to gambling and losing money, which led to robbing and burglary,” he said. “And then I got sent to prison and prison wasn’t the answer for me, it isn’t for a lot of people. It was a vicious circle, a revolving door.
“I started gambling when I was 16 and I had done it all my life. Once you start doing it you stop thinking about the consequences of anything. It’s similar to drugs really.
“Every time I came out of prison, I always thought I would change my life but then I’d start making excuses – drinking, lonely, things getting on top of you. Then I’d start gambling and get into debt.”
After being released from prison, Dave was accepted onto the C2 Programme in 2015 where he was subject to monitoring and restrictions including a tag, regular drug and alcohol testing, therapy and monthly meetings with no nonsense Crown Court Judge Jonathan Carroll.
“C2 isn’t an easy option,” said Dave. “You have to accept that you want to change. If you don’t want to change it is going to come back and bite you on the backside.
“For me going onto C2 was a no brainer because I wanted to change. I didn’t want to be gambling and waiting for the police to be knocking on my door. It was a horrible existence and has an impact on everyone, your whole family.
“C2 shows you there are other options.
“This Christmas I bought presents for my children with money I had earned. It gives you the best feeling.”
Dave also credits the therapy sessions he attended as part of the programme with saving his life. “I had never done therapy before, but it does work,” he said.
*Dave’s name has been changed to protect his identity as he continues his new life.