'Drug addict' turns his life around

Credit: Lincolnshire Police

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).

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

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

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

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.

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 2017 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.

Now Lloyd can see a future and has a simple ambition that many people would take for granted. He would like a job. He says his next goal is to get a car, get back to work, stand on his 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

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.

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.”

LLoyd has turned his life around with the help of ARC. Credit: Lincolnshire Police

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.”

Phil Muirhead
Lloyd’s case officer T/Sgt Muirhead Credit: Lincolnshire Police

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.”

Phil Muirhead

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 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.

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