POLICE in Dudley have joined forces with the Black Country Food Bank to help prevent criminals from reoffending.

The charitable Food Bank, which is based in Stourbridge but also has distribution centres in Brierley Hill, Netherton and Halesowen, hands out food and aid to vulnerable members of the community who have usually been referred to them by organisations such as West Midlands Police, probation service, SureStart and social services.

DC Rose Hampshire, from the West Midlands Police offender management team at Brierley Hill, said: “We work with people to try to prevent them reoffending.

“We visit them while they are in prison and on release, help them access the support they need.

“We find that, because of the lapse of time between applying for and receiving benefits, our offenders can find themselves without the money to buy the basics of life like food.”

And that is where the Food Bank steps in, with police reporting a real impact on crime reduction outcomes because of its intervention.

The distribution charity hands out three days’ worth of food, up to three times in a two week period, which gives the police time to put support systems in place.

DC Hampshire said: “The fact that there are people out there who are prepared to help them has a positive effect on our offenders – they really do appreciate the help.”

Food Bank co-ordinator Wendy Fryatt said: “We look at the wider picture – we are helping people to help themselves.

“We act as an emergency stop gap and for the sake of a bag of food, if we can stop someone from reoffending, it’s definitely worth our while.”