Captured criminals confess to 550 more offences in a year in Suffolk

Highpoint prison, Stradishall Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The Operation Converter team visit a number of prisons around the country to speak with criminals - Credit: Archant

A specialist Suffolk police unit which allows criminals to own up to other offences they have committed has cleared up more than 550 cases in the last year. 

Operation Converter, which is partly funded by the police and crime commissioner's office, encourages offenders to admit additional crimes — which can then be taken into consideration (TIC) at sentence. 

Allowing a criminal to "clear the slate" may increase the sentence at court, but the additional penalty will be less severe than if the offences were prosecuted separately. 

The unit secured 557 TICs in total from 70 criminals during the 2021/22 financial year for crimes such as robbery, burglary, theft of or from motor vehicles, taking vehicles without consent and fraud. 

This means that the Operation Converter team were, on average, able secure a further eight admissions from every criminal, with prison sentences totalling 59 years and seven months. 

The unit, which recently expanded, is comprised of former detective Duncan Etchells, who returned to the force in December 2020 as a civilian administrator following retirement, DC Barry Simpson, DC Merv Cook as well as PCs Dan Wheddon and Tim Barrell.

The team were also able to complete 33 restorative justice hub referrals - where the criminals can explain their offending to their victims, which is very impactive for both parties. 

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore praised the unit - Credit: Archant

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Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore praised the Operation Converter unit for a successful year. 

“I’m very pleased to see these impressive outcomes by the Operation Converter team, the results speak for themselves," he said. 

“The ability to clear unresolved crimes has many benefits. For the offender, it means they can leave prison with a clean slate and this has shown to have a positive impact to reduce re-offending.

"More importantly victims can be reassured the person who committed a crime against them has been brought to justice.

"The overall aim of Operation Converter is victim satisfaction, and what better way to achieve this than to be able to tell a victim that the offender has been apprehended.  

"Helping more victims have closure on the crimes they have experienced is very important for their general wellbeing and improves confidence in the criminal justice system.

“I fully supported the investment in this team, the work they do is making a real difference to public confidence, offender rehabilitation, property recovery and crime reduction. Well done to all involved.”