Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Benefits of Offender Rehabilitation - At a Glance

Yesterday I went to Basingstoke for a 'Driver Awareness Course'.

In the old days committing driving offences meant accumulating points on your license until you reached 12 points and then you would lose it - you were off the road. So, the consequences were harsh but you got plenty of chances first.

I am ashamed to say that I managed to accumulate 11 points by the age of 17 - I really did take my chances. Clearly I took unnecessary risks with my life, and other innocent people's lives too.

But in these enlightened times instead of simply doling out fines and points drivers, in certain instances, get the opportunity for a bit of rehabilitation and learning - the hope being that the result will be less deaths on our roads.

Yesterday Nick and JP from Hampshire Police did an outstanding job of exploring the consequences of our actions if we choose to re-offend. We (thats me and 20 others) listened to what they had to say, did some interactive tests, saw some shocking pictures and video clips and understood exactly what the consequences could be if we choose to re-offend in the future.

Here's one of them:

Nick is an experienced copper. He told me after the course that when he started teaching this course 6 months ago that he expected everyone who attended it to be aggressive and ungrateful. He explained he couldn't have been more wrong. Instead people listen and they learn. Not everyone, but most people get it. They realise that speeding can and statistically will have horrific consequences for innocent people.

It also harms the driver. As JP explained towards the end of this video. The little boy looks up as the car hits him and looks straight into the driver's eyes. Apparently they call it 'the glance' - the look of the innocent as, for a fleeting second when the deed is done, they lock eyes with their murderer as they prepare to depart.

It's that glance that stays with people. It's that micro-second that stays with people for the rest of their lives - a look they have shared but a memory that only they can carry forward alone.

I am even more ashamed to say, that until yesterday at least, I am still a serial offender. 

Yesterday was the second course I have attended - I attended one in Berkshire around 3 years ago. There was no comparison between the two. Nick and JP are true professionals. At the end of the course (just 3 hrs long), I could see they were tired. They had given their all - trying to save lives of both drivers and victims.

I am convinced that the work they are doing is extraordinarily effective. These type of courses have only been in operation for a few years but Britain has climbed up the international league tables and is now the safest country to drive in Europe and now the World. Across the country road deaths have fallen from around 3,500 in 2003 to approximately 2,200 in 2009. - so reduced by about 30% in 6 years.

But Nick and JP are part of a team that have been blazing an even more impressive trail than that. In Hampshire road deaths in 2007 were 97. In 1998 they were around 70. In 2009 they were down to 41. That's a staggering 60% reduction in just 2 years.

Statistical anomaly? Other factors involved? - maybe some. Insufficient data to plot a reliable trend - perhaps. But having compared 2 organisations doing the same job (albeit 3yrs apart) I know which one is delivering outstanding results.

Bizarrely at the end of the course there was no 'feedback' form to fill-in, like you usually get on a commercial training course, to let the trainers know what you thought about the course.

So here it is instead. Thanks Nick and JP. I will try not to kill anyone.


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