A project aimed at stopping people from offending is turning chaotic lives around and reducing crime.
While the Tayside Intensive Support Service (TISS) pilot in Arbroath has yet to be fully evaluated, indications are that two-thirds of those who signed up for help have stayed out of trouble.
Angus policing commander Chief Inspector Gordon Milne said he was encouraged at the impact of the multi-agency TISS and looked forward to the pilot being rolled out across the county.
TISS is a partnership between Police Scotland, Actions for Children and Criminal Justice Social Work Department, working closely with the Safer Communities Team, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Service, NHS Tayside, Scottish Prison Service, Tayside Council on Alcohol and other service providers.
Launched in Arbroath in November 2013, it focuses on recidivist offenders and supports them in making positive changes to their behaviour, often by addressing lifestyle issues.
Those involved are over 18 and will have committed three or more offences linked to substance misuse in a year.
Offenders voluntarily sign up to an agreement that gives them access to multi-agency support to try to steer them away from substance abuse and other negative influences on their lives.
This intensive focus intends to benefit the individual, as well as their families and the communities they live in, who can be affected by their chaotic and criminal behaviour.
Mr Milne said: “The TISS approach makes perfect sense to me.
“If you tackle the underlying issues that drive people to commit crime, then crime will undoubtedly fall.
“It’s not rocket science and it’s something we have thought about for years.
“TISS, I am assured, will provide concrete evidence to support this strategy.
“Come spring 2015, we will hopefully be making plans to roll out this approach across the whole of Angus”.
An Angus Council spokesperson confirmed that results of the Arbroath evaluation are due in March 2015 and that “early signs are very encouraging”.
The spokesperson said: “The service is seen as the start of the journey for a client, using a problem-solving approach towards stability at a period of crisis to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
“The project has also been piloted in Dundee and Perth where initial analysis indicates a drop in recorded crime by TISS female clients of 61% and 72% for TISS male clients.
“For comparison, those who refused to engage with the service showed an increase in offences of 26%.”
Tayside Community Justice Authority will receive the evaluation report and Angus Council is working with partners to review future funding for the project.