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A life reset - Lloyd's story

Lloyd Mitchell: Drug addict and criminal

Lloyd Mitchell from Boston was a criminal. He stole, took drugs, and served prison sentences. It’s a life he had known since his teens. Nothing and nobody seemed to offer a way out… Until ARC. 

Assisting Rehabilitation through Collaboration (ARC) is a joint approach to dealing with prolific offenders and, as Lloyd’s story shows, it is changing lives in Lincolnshire.

Before ARC, Lloyd, now 33, was a drug addict who had been stealing since he was 15. He has a long and significant offending history, predominantly for shop lifting*. During his worst times, he would commit crime on a daily basis so he could buy heroin and mephedrone (a New Psychoactive Substance banned in 2010). 

Lloyd let people down, lost people close to him and hurt his family time after time.

“An existence, not a life”

In and out of prison, unable to hold down permanent employment, periods of homelessness; he described this as “an existence, not a life.”

His own mum, a constant support to him, decided to stop lending him money. Lloyd explains why: “She didn’t want to give me the tenner that I would put in my arm; the tenner that would kill me.”

Lloyd needed drugs to function and to feel normal. Besides drugs, Lloyd cared about nothing.

He would walk out of shops with stolen goods under his arm, alarms ringing out, and he would be oblivious to everything but where he could get the money together to buy more drugs. Surprising as it may be to some, he described his addiction to mephedrone as far more powerful than his addiction to heroin.  

He described his addiction to mephedrone as far more powerful than his addiction to heroin

While the dangers of substance misuse are obvious, for Lloyd, who also has type 1 diabetes, those dangers became magnified. But Lloyd didn’t care about getting caught, going to prison or the impact on his health. Only satisfying that immediate need for drugs was important.

Many would have seen Lloyd as a lost cause; someone who could not be helped or changed.  

The turning point…

Lloyd was released from prison in July ’17 and has been working with ARC ever since. The scheme has helped him to turn his life around.  Since this point Lloyd, has provided nothing but clear drugs tests to Addaction and has turned his back on a life of crime.  

“I didn’t know what normal was”

Now Lloyd can see a future and has a simple ambition that many people would take for granted. He would like a job. “My next goal is to get a car, get back to work, stand on my own two feet and earn some money.”  This concept is new to Lloyd who throughout his adult life has known nothing but drugs. He explains, “I didn’t know what normal was.”

But it is not only the influence of ARC that Lloyd attributes his success to, it is also his family. “If it wasn’t for my mum and my sister, I wouldn’t be here.” Lloyd recognises the constant and overbearing worry he inflicted on them. The only respite, when they didn’t fear for his safety or his life, being when he was in prison. He said, “They used to love it when I went to jail. It was like a holiday for them.” Lloyd is quick to point out that he had a good childhood and that there is nothing that explains or excuses his former life of addiction and crime. It is just something he fell into that became an unbreakable cycle.    

“Every day was a chore. I would wake up; get money; get drugs.” 

Lloyd’s message to others in this cycle is to cut ties with the people who are using and avoid any places you know there may be drugs. His advice is that if you don’t distance yourself from it, “you’ll never get away from it.” But, he says, “if I can do it, any one of them can do it.”      

“If I can do it, any one of them can do it.”      

T/Sgt Phil Muirhead has been Lloyd’s case officer over the last year. He said, “I am immensely proud of Lloyd. He was an extremely heavy substance abuser and prolific offender with everything stacked against him; yet he has triumphed with the support of ARC. It is a credit to him that he has been presented so many opportunities to fail, but he has remained absolutely resolute.”

*Whilst extensive and prolific, Lloyd’s offending never progressed to more serious crime such as robbery or burglary.

Sgt Phil Muirhead: My journey through ARC with Lloyd

The key to success

Assisting Rehabilitation through Collaboration (ARC) is a joint approach to dealing with prolific offenders and, as Lloyd’s story shows, it is changing lives in Lincolnshire.

Lloyd’s case officer T/Sgt Muirhead explained the bespoke approach, “Essentially it is about breaking down barriers and finding out what the real issues are for that specific person. In Lloyd’s case we got Addaction on board and I took Lloyd to every appointment. I made sure that his mum was involved so she didn’t feel like anything was being hidden from her. I helped Lloyd into alternative accommodation – the rural location, in contrast with Boston, did not offer the same temptation to slip back into his old life. But in the end, it’s down to Lloyd – he has taken the opportunity and he has changed his life.” 

“Breaking down barriers”

“ARC officers invest a considerable amount of time in relationship building with our clients and have to initially put quite a lot of effort into breaking down those barriers to move away from: ‘police officer and offender’ to one of: ‘supporting person and client’. This couldn’t be more true than with Lloyd; as initially ARC wasn’t too well known in the area and he was naturally sceptical of my agenda and whilst he signed to be a part of the ARC programme that level of trust hadn’t yet had time to develop, meaning; in the early days he would avoid me at all costs if he thought he was in trouble.

“Following Lloyd’s release from prison he chose to go to an address out in the middle of nowhere rather than returning to the drugs den that was his former home – this, I believe was his finest and most pivotal decision that he ever made and I had a lot of respect for him in making that call. Being out in the middle of nowhere Lloyd became reliant upon me to get him to his appointments and I ensured that I made the most of this valuable time with him by getting to know him better outside of appointments.

“Both Lloyd and I became invested in each other”

“It’s fair to say that eventually both Lloyd and I became invested in each other; he could see the lengths that I would go to in delivering what I said I would and I could see the effort he was making in choosing the right decisions and trying to change his life and as time has evolved; so has the bond between us. From an ARC perspective and as a police officer with over 20 years’ service; Lloyd has shown me the true value of ‘working in partnership’ as well as what that phrase used so often, really means. He has shown me gratitude which I know is difficult for him to openly display, he has exhibited immense courage and resolve despite repeatedly being faced with adversity, he has demonstrated  strength of character, he has opened up his life and allowed me to interrogate it, he has taught me that it can’t be about delivering a sterile service, but above all he has taught me the most valuable lesson……never give up on a client.

“A caring bespoke service”

“Of course it’s not just the relationship between police and client that is important but also the wider partnership family. It was important to me to get the message across to Lloyd that we were all invested in his future together and to that end spending time with him in company with our partners in their one 2 one meetings was crucial in delivering and demonstrating that message to him. Watching the way different agencies engaged with Lloyd was a huge learning curve for me also and helped me modify my own approach towards Lloyd. With Lloyd I was lucky enough to have a line manager and partners who were fully on-board and who are all so professional as well as offering such a caring bespoke service – it’s an accurate reflection on multi-agency working at its absolute best!  

“Lloyd is a Type 1 Diabetic and has suffered with this debilitating autoimmune condition for most of his life and trying to balance Diabetes management with work potential has been a tricky conundrum of late. My 7 year old son also has Type 1 Diabetes, he was diagnosed two years ago upon nearly losing him to it; so I’ve seen first-hand and over the last two years witnessed how incredibly difficult it is to manage. I guess that’s another reason why Lloyd and I have developed such a strong bond.

“Lloyd has freely admitted to me that he didn’t really care about his Diabetes before and would frequently run high (Hyperglycaemia), but now with some personal ARC investment; he takes it much more seriously than he did before and has better control. Clearly, Lloyd hasn’t in the past been fit for work and his mother has adopted more of a carers role for Lloyd which still continues to this day, but I’m pleased to say that owing to Lloyd’s lifestyle changes and Diabetes management we are hopeful of entering him into a local employers ‘back to work’ programme during the summer, which will be yet another milestone for him; by turning his disability into positive outcome.

“I look forward to continuing offering Lloyd ARC’s full support.”

About ARC

ARC is Lincolnshire’s multi-agency partnership dedicated to reducing reoffending, reducing the number of victims and reducing the harm caused by the most prolific and complex offenders in Lincolnshire. Figures have shown that the top 2% of offenders in Lincolnshire committed 13% of all offences where the police knew the identity of the offender.

ARC brings together expert practitioners from across the health, criminal justice, social care and third-sector to help deal with the causes of crime, and not just the symptoms of crime.

ARC builds on the strengths of the Integrated Offender Management approach, while offering a tighter, more focused process. It aims to reduce criminality in the cohort and their families, and encourage rehabilitation away from crime. Information is shared across agencies in order to properly understand, for the first time, the nature of the offenders various needs whether they be homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill health, or more commonly, a complex mix of these and others.

Regular meetings with people who take part in the programme help to identify their issues and provide a period of intense support.

ARC is funded by a number of partners including the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lincolnshire County Council, and Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust.

26 Dec 18 12:01 AM

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