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Offenders’ perspective: part one

Mask wearing might create opportunity for street crime, was among the opinions of two offenders, who agreed to be interviewed by Prof Martin Gill in the latest of his webinars this afternoon.

The two men, identified only as Andy and Tony, thought that face mask-wearing in public, as common due to the Covid-19 pandemic, might create opportunity even for random on-street violence. Largely, the hour stayed away from Covid-19, as the men described their years doing crime, and how they viewed security measures. In a word, the offender’s perspective which as Martin Gill said at the outset, was not to condone crime but to learn from what the men had to say. A last point was by them that longer prison sentences do not deter; because if you are desperate enough to commit a crime, you are not thinking of prison; and it would only make you more desperate to get away (‘that’s my take on it’).

A sign of the two men’s frankness came at the very end when asked if they would have taken a different path, if they could turn back time. Andy, now 50, said: “Absolutely take a different path. I would have studied at school, I wouldn’t have had kids as young. The way we grew up, we didn’t learn the value of a pound note until late on, it was easy come, easy go. Not that I am saying I regret my life. I am just saying I have struggled a lot more than if I had taken the right path.” And Tony said that he would have liked to say that like Andy; but to be truthful, ‘I wouldn’t change it, I am happy the way things have turned out.’

The webinar began with the two men asked how they got into crime. Andy recalled: “My mum was a single parent, I didn’t get on with the bloke [that she married] … I left by the time I was 15, I left school before I took any exams, which was stupid, because I was flying through school.” He was doing ‘bits of work’, namely petty crime by the age of 16, breaking into cars; he progressed to shoplifting, and burglary and fraud. As he started to get arrested for one thing, he would go to the next – ‘and that was it; never did violent crime by the way’. Tony later likewise was adamant that he had not touched and did not want to use guns.

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This was the latest in the thought leadership webinars under the banner of the OSPAs (Outstanding Security Performance Awards); listen to past webinars and see upcoming ones at


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