Drunken menace is jailed again...but is it really the answer?

A SERIAL town drunk has breached his asbo 28 times and has cost the taxpayer at least £200,000.

Neville Dickinson’s latest conviction for breaching the asbo came just 12 hours after he was released from Chelmsford Prison.

The asbo, banning him from drinking in public, begging and being abusive, was first issued in 2004.

It brings the 62-year-old’s offending record up to 146 convictions for 298 offences.

His crime history now covers 80 pages and one of his cases is used by lawyers for legal guidance.

Following his latest conviction, his lawyer Lucy Osborn told Chelmsford Crown Court: "He was quite thrilled when he found out he was a guideline case."

Dickinson admitted breaking his Asbo when he appeared in court and was jailed for four months.

Judge David Turner QC told him: “You will die in a bus shelter if this goes on."

The court heard he was released from prison shortly after breakfast time on January 3 this year.

He travelled back to Colchester and by the time police arrested him, he had drunk cans of cider and special brew, the court heard.

Dickinson was seen staggering around Colchester town centre and arrested again.

Since the asbo was imposed, Dickinson, now of no fixed address, has received prison sentences in excess of ten years.

"It's a perpetual cycle," Miss Osborn told the court.

FIGURES released by the Crown Prosecution Service suggest the average cost of a prosector, when there is a timely guilty plea at crown court, is £433.

It would cost the about the same for a defence lawyer.

Based on Dickinson’s 146 convictions, the total sum for the hearings is £126,436.

The cost of an inmate at Chelmsford Prison (category B), is around £30,000 a year.

Dickinson’s prison sentences total more than ten years.

However, offenders rarely serve the full term given to them by the courts, usually doing half or a quarter of that time.

Based on this, Dickinson will have served around two and half years inside, costing the taxpayer £75,000.

The average cost of legal and staffing costs of obtaining an asbo is £2,500.

In addition, an asbo breach costs £150, bringing the total of Dickinson’s 28 to £4,200.

That brings the total cost of Dickinson’s offending to the taxpayer to £208,136 aside from police costs.

A court case involving Dickinson in 2005 is documented in Home Office guidance for lawyers on anti-social behaviours.

It’s used as an example of when an asbo is breached and amounts to further harassment, alarm or distress.

Custodial sentences of eight months are deemed appropriate, it says.

Comments (16)

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1:51pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Jack222 says...

Surely he should be able to be committed to a drying out centre? What a waste of money.

He doesnt need jail; he needs help.
Surely he should be able to be committed to a drying out centre? What a waste of money. He doesnt need jail; he needs help. Jack222
  • Score: 13

1:59pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Route88 says...

'Since the asbo was imposed, Dickinson, now of no fixed address, has received prison sentences in excess of ten years' - But really served a few months, such is our so called criminal justice system!
'Since the asbo was imposed, Dickinson, now of no fixed address, has received prison sentences in excess of ten years' - But really served a few months, such is our so called criminal justice system! Route88
  • Score: 9

2:17pm Mon 3 Feb 14

pixiebell87 says...

at 62 hes beyond help - he wont change. rehab is pointless & police / prison cells dont work for him neither. what else can be done.
at 62 hes beyond help - he wont change. rehab is pointless & police / prison cells dont work for him neither. what else can be done. pixiebell87
  • Score: 6

2:38pm Mon 3 Feb 14

SOMETHING2SAY says...

00oo * " HIC! "* oo00
00oo * " HIC! "* oo00 SOMETHING2SAY
  • Score: 2

2:47pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Scoot says...

Wonder if anyone has ever tried to establish the reasons for his drinking. The majority of serious drinkers do it for a reason. Most of the time its to forget something traumatic. Once this is established he should be offered help to dry out and to get his life back on track.
To those who think he is a waste of space and should be shot, then surely the same applies to those who get tanked up on a friday night and get arrested for being drunk and disordeley and block up the police cells.
Wonder if anyone has ever tried to establish the reasons for his drinking. The majority of serious drinkers do it for a reason. Most of the time its to forget something traumatic. Once this is established he should be offered help to dry out and to get his life back on track. To those who think he is a waste of space and should be shot, then surely the same applies to those who get tanked up on a friday night and get arrested for being drunk and disordeley and block up the police cells. Scoot
  • Score: 1

4:03pm Mon 3 Feb 14

romantic says...

Quite hard to know what the best solution is. Clearly, he's a waste of space, but it is a mark of being a civilised society that we do try to do something. Jail has no impact. If he's of no fixed abode, a spell inside may seem an easier option. If we don't jail him, he is a nuisance again, or one night ends up dead from hypothermia.

A drying-out centre would be the place - but they don't come cheap, either, and it would probably have no impact unless he was unable to leave during the process. I agree with Scoot, that there is probably some underlying reason - but is anybody, in these times of austerity, going to pay the probably thousands which would be required for the counselling sessions which would be needed to work that out? At the age of 62, sadly, it is hard to envisage that this pattern will ever be broken.
Quite hard to know what the best solution is. Clearly, he's a waste of space, but it is a mark of being a civilised society that we do try to do something. Jail has no impact. If he's of no fixed abode, a spell inside may seem an easier option. If we don't jail him, he is a nuisance again, or one night ends up dead from hypothermia. A drying-out centre would be the place - but they don't come cheap, either, and it would probably have no impact unless he was unable to leave during the process. I agree with Scoot, that there is probably some underlying reason - but is anybody, in these times of austerity, going to pay the probably thousands which would be required for the counselling sessions which would be needed to work that out? At the age of 62, sadly, it is hard to envisage that this pattern will ever be broken. romantic
  • Score: 6

5:33pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Jess Jephcott says...

What is not explained is whether this chap is mentally ill, antisocial by nature, violent, or simply a hopeless alcoholic. How does he behave when he is sober in prison? Can he be reformed or should we just lock him up full stop?
What is not explained is whether this chap is mentally ill, antisocial by nature, violent, or simply a hopeless alcoholic. How does he behave when he is sober in prison? Can he be reformed or should we just lock him up full stop? Jess Jephcott
  • Score: 4

9:54pm Mon 3 Feb 14

BlondeJo says...

This poor man and countless others...all victims of mental home closures up and down the country over the last 25 years. Nowhere for them to go, mental imbalances totally unchecked, pay them benefits, no mental capacity to manage own life, no resources, only resort is alcohol, leading to eventual dependency with only viable roof over head being provided by spells in prison. Trapped in an endless cycle until he eventually dies and is buried in a paupers grave, costing tax payers until his last breath. All originally through no fault of his own. Colchester has had the blood of many, many sad people like this on their hands since the appalling closure of Severalls. So many have died, at the convenience of the country who no longer has to pay so, so much more than they would have done if they'd only thought in the long run and kept the buildings open. Absolute disgrace.
This poor man and countless others...all victims of mental home closures up and down the country over the last 25 years. Nowhere for them to go, mental imbalances totally unchecked, pay them benefits, no mental capacity to manage own life, no resources, only resort is alcohol, leading to eventual dependency with only viable roof over head being provided by spells in prison. Trapped in an endless cycle until he eventually dies and is buried in a paupers grave, costing tax payers until his last breath. All originally through no fault of his own. Colchester has had the blood of many, many sad people like this on their hands since the appalling closure of Severalls. So many have died, at the convenience of the country who no longer has to pay so, so much more than they would have done if they'd only thought in the long run and kept the buildings open. Absolute disgrace. BlondeJo
  • Score: 6

9:46am Tue 4 Feb 14

angeldelight12345 says...

maybe we are being too hard on this young man. why dont we give him a nice 3 bredroom house, give him a nice big flatscreen TV, PS4, plenty of food, drink as well as a regualr income to ensure he can feed his drinking habit. .
he is very special, he has worked hard all his life and deserved this form of relaxation.

as for those of you reading this whilst working 5 day a week in hard jobs trying to make ends meat for you and your family so you can just about scrape by! get back to work.

excuse the sarcasm! this just made me sick. chops his hands off and then try watching him drink! waste of space no hoper!
maybe we are being too hard on this young man. why dont we give him a nice 3 bredroom house, give him a nice big flatscreen TV, PS4, plenty of food, drink as well as a regualr income to ensure he can feed his drinking habit. . he is very special, he has worked hard all his life and deserved this form of relaxation. as for those of you reading this whilst working 5 day a week in hard jobs trying to make ends meat for you and your family so you can just about scrape by! get back to work. excuse the sarcasm! this just made me sick. chops his hands off and then try watching him drink! waste of space no hoper! angeldelight12345
  • Score: -5

10:13am Tue 4 Feb 14

stevedawson says...

What would jesus have done?
What would jesus have done? stevedawson
  • Score: 0

10:35am Tue 4 Feb 14

HARRY438 says...

Channel 4 gold.
Channel 4 gold. HARRY438
  • Score: 3

12:18pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Scoot says...

Angel, and to all those doubters. Its so easy to just think 'waste of space' etc etc. when you haven't had first hand experience. I've seen someone in their 60's 'dry out' after years and years of abuse and was a fantastic person. This person was highly intelligent (Oxbridge graduate and spoke umpteen languages) but something in his past had driven him to seek 'escape' in the form of the bottle. Another I used to know tried to find solice in the bottle to escape the memories of the Japanese POW camp he was in but regretably he did not react to treatment. Alcoholism is an illness and who knows what this person would be like if he was given support to dry out and his problems were tried to be resolved rather than being made to go cold turkey for a few months and then dumped back on the streets without support.
As I said in an earlier post if you are to condemn this man to death or having his hands chopped off then also this should apply to all the binge drinkers out there that cost us a fortune in police time, cell blocking when they are drunk and incapable and also the cost in time and bed blocking if they have to be taken to hospital. Then we could go on to drink drivers etc etc. What you should ask yourself is how many times have you said 'I could do with a drink' and said 'no' when one is offered ? If the answer is rarely then you should be saying 'but for the grace of god there goes I....'
Angel, and to all those doubters. Its so easy to just think 'waste of space' etc etc. when you haven't had first hand experience. I've seen someone in their 60's 'dry out' after years and years of abuse and was a fantastic person. This person was highly intelligent (Oxbridge graduate and spoke umpteen languages) but something in his past had driven him to seek 'escape' in the form of the bottle. Another I used to know tried to find solice in the bottle to escape the memories of the Japanese POW camp he was in but regretably he did not react to treatment. Alcoholism is an illness and who knows what this person would be like if he was given support to dry out and his problems were tried to be resolved rather than being made to go cold turkey for a few months and then dumped back on the streets without support. As I said in an earlier post if you are to condemn this man to death or having his hands chopped off then also this should apply to all the binge drinkers out there that cost us a fortune in police time, cell blocking when they are drunk and incapable and also the cost in time and bed blocking if they have to be taken to hospital. Then we could go on to drink drivers etc etc. What you should ask yourself is how many times have you said 'I could do with a drink' and said 'no' when one is offered ? If the answer is rarely then you should be saying 'but for the grace of god there goes I....' Scoot
  • Score: 6

3:48pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Hamiltonandy says...

Totally agree with "scoot". You may see a drunk on the street but you do not know his past life. A high proportion of rough sleepers are ex-services. It was shameful how the government and MoD ignored post traumatic stress for so long. My nephew served in Iraq and Afghanistan and happily escaped physical or mental injury. As if he had not suffered enough they then sent him to the Falkland islands! So if he developed a drink or drugs problem I would expect him to be offered treatment and not repeatedly jailed.
Totally agree with "scoot". You may see a drunk on the street but you do not know his past life. A high proportion of rough sleepers are ex-services. It was shameful how the government and MoD ignored post traumatic stress for so long. My nephew served in Iraq and Afghanistan and happily escaped physical or mental injury. As if he had not suffered enough they then sent him to the Falkland islands! So if he developed a drink or drugs problem I would expect him to be offered treatment and not repeatedly jailed. Hamiltonandy
  • Score: 6

6:52pm Tue 4 Feb 14

stevedawson says...

The point here is not about how the individual became a problem but what you are going to do with problem in a humane way.l would guess the reaction of some of the public who have been subjected to abuse would be different to those who havent.
The point here is not about how the individual became a problem but what you are going to do with problem in a humane way.l would guess the reaction of some of the public who have been subjected to abuse would be different to those who havent. stevedawson
  • Score: -4

9:36pm Tue 4 Feb 14

25414nora says...

BlondeJo wrote:
This poor man and countless others...all victims of mental home closures up and down the country over the last 25 years. Nowhere for them to go, mental imbalances totally unchecked, pay them benefits, no mental capacity to manage own life, no resources, only resort is alcohol, leading to eventual dependency with only viable roof over head being provided by spells in prison. Trapped in an endless cycle until he eventually dies and is buried in a paupers grave, costing tax payers until his last breath. All originally through no fault of his own. Colchester has had the blood of many, many sad people like this on their hands since the appalling closure of Severalls. So many have died, at the convenience of the country who no longer has to pay so, so much more than they would have done if they'd only thought in the long run and kept the buildings open. Absolute disgrace.
I can relate to this comment, the closures of mental facilities are proving to be a false economy. Care in the community does work for the majority, but for the excluded few like Neville Dickinson there is absolutely no safety net. I once had a close interest in the Severalls facility and know first hand about the success level's achieved in treating chronic alcoholic's.
Jimmy Greaves ex footballer, sporting celebrity, and alcoholic was admitted to this institution in the late 70's early 80's, was just one of the many success stories.
[quote][p][bold]BlondeJo[/bold] wrote: This poor man and countless others...all victims of mental home closures up and down the country over the last 25 years. Nowhere for them to go, mental imbalances totally unchecked, pay them benefits, no mental capacity to manage own life, no resources, only resort is alcohol, leading to eventual dependency with only viable roof over head being provided by spells in prison. Trapped in an endless cycle until he eventually dies and is buried in a paupers grave, costing tax payers until his last breath. All originally through no fault of his own. Colchester has had the blood of many, many sad people like this on their hands since the appalling closure of Severalls. So many have died, at the convenience of the country who no longer has to pay so, so much more than they would have done if they'd only thought in the long run and kept the buildings open. Absolute disgrace.[/p][/quote]I can relate to this comment, the closures of mental facilities are proving to be a false economy. Care in the community does work for the majority, but for the excluded few like Neville Dickinson there is absolutely no safety net. I once had a close interest in the Severalls facility and know first hand about the success level's achieved in treating chronic alcoholic's. Jimmy Greaves ex footballer, sporting celebrity, and alcoholic was admitted to this institution in the late 70's early 80's, was just one of the many success stories. 25414nora
  • Score: 7

10:37pm Wed 5 Feb 14

rhetoric says...

It is indeed tragic that we no longer have Severalls. Every institution can be found to have faults, but Severalls was, of its kind, a good model.

It might have been very expensive to run, who knows? The patients used to do a lot of the work in return for pocket money. There was a farm which provided some of the food consumed in the hospital.

So, how much does it cost to keep clearing untreated people from the streets, when they are going to lapse again and again?

For some, I believe Severalls was a welcome refuge from their fears and insecurities. We seem to have little to offer in its place.
It is indeed tragic that we no longer have Severalls. Every institution can be found to have faults, but Severalls was, of its kind, a good model. It might have been very expensive to run, who knows? The patients used to do a lot of the work in return for pocket money. There was a farm which provided some of the food consumed in the hospital. So, how much does it cost to keep clearing untreated people from the streets, when they are going to lapse again and again? For some, I believe Severalls was a welcome refuge from their fears and insecurities. We seem to have little to offer in its place. rhetoric
  • Score: 4

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