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From 12 months to live- to 12 months clean

A prolific thief has turned her life around with the help of neighbourhood officer after being told she had just 12 months to live. 

Caroline Best was a heroin and crack cocaine addict and has spent the last 15 years in and out of prison, due to shoplifting to fund her addiction. 

Only 12 months ago, the 36-year-old was told she had just a year to live. Her addiction had caused her heart to start failing and she was told they would be unable to operate on her until she came off the drugs. 

PC Stuart Toogood from Erdington neighbourhood police team reached out to Caroline last year to try and turn her life around and ultimately save her life. 

With PC Toogood’s help, Caroline attended a rehab facility last August and following an intensive programme, she is now living in a dry house and has been clean ever since - celebrating 12 months clean today (27 August).

12 months clean
Caroline before and after 

She is no longer an offender and has been supporting PC Toogood to work with other offenders to get them out of a life of crime. 

More importantly, Caroline was told she no longer needed a heart operation as her faulty valve had mended itself due to her drastically improved lifestyle.

Caroline said: “Thanks to Stuart Toogood, I’m now a productive member of society and I thank him for helping me do something I couldn’t do on my own.
“I am living proof that we can recover."

Caroline custody image

PC Stuart Toogood from Birmingham Neighbourhood team said: “Our Offender to Rehab Programme has so far successfully placed nine prolific offenders into rehab.

“Of the five who have completed the programme one has gained full time employment at Timpson, two have worked as volunteers for Birmingham Mind charity and completed adult education courses. They have also been ambassadors for WMP, presented at several business conferences to raise awareness of the programme and the benefits of it for the business community. And two people are in aftercare at dry houses − one should be progressing into employment soon whilst the other is about to undertake adult education courses. 

“Four other people are currently in treatment and doing well. Several others are in the process of being assessed for rehab placement. 

“This has resulted in a huge reduction of shop thefts in and around the Birmingham North and East regions as many offences were being committed by a core group of offenders. 

“We are certainly seeing a benefit in this new approach."  

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