Ex-offender who turned his life around on how to keep homes safe from crime

Jamie Barnes has worked hard to turn his life around and is now a service manager at the charity Fresh Start. 

Jamie Barnes has worked hard to turn his life around and is now a service manager at the charity Fresh Start. - Credit: Jamie Barnes

An ex-offender who turned his back on a life of crime has shared his insight into how people can keep their homes safe to prove that change is possible. 

Jamie Barnes, 41, grew up in Bedford and found himself in the care system aged ten. 

He was moved to lots of different towns and had homes in regions like Wales and Kent.  

He said: “The offending started when I was in the children’s home, I wanted to fit in and have friends.  

“Unfortunately, moving around so much made it difficult to make the right friends. Bad people accept anyone so it’s easier to be their friends.” 

Jamie Barnes is working towards helping other offenders to turn their lives around. 

Jamie Barnes is working towards helping other offenders to turn their lives around. - Credit: Jamie Barnes

In 1997, when Jamie was 17, he was able to meet his dad for the first time.  

He said: “My dad was an addict but I so desperately wanted him to accept me. It influenced me to start using too.  

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“He was only around for six months and in that time, he got me addicted to drugs and arrested for burglary.” 

From then until Jamie was 32 in 2012, he found himself in and out of custody. 

He said: “I didn’t have anything left on the outside. I was homeless so it became a revolving door that just kept leading me back into custody.” 

In 2012 he went to prison for a year and realised he had to turn his life around.

He added: "I didn't want to die in prison."

In the years after Jamie began volunteering at a drug and alcohol service but had a relapse in 2018 which saw him go back to prison.

“That hit me hard because it wasn’t me anymore," he said. 

During his time in custody, he started working at Norwich charity Fresh Start and now he is the service manager for the charity.  

He said: “I am in a great place, I have a baby on the way, I am getting married and my life is stable. 

“I want to pay it forward and help them."

Top tips on how to keep homes safe from burglaries. 

Jamie has compiled a list of tips for people looking to keep their homes as safe as possible and deter anyone who is looking to commit an offence.  

- Always leave a light in the house, that is a deterrent, as people will assume that someone is home. 

- Don’t leave expensive items on display through windows, especially easy to grab items such as laptops and phones.  

- Keep windows and doors closed and locked if you are going out.  

- Don’t put keys or handbags on display, people can go through letterboxes to get them with litter pickers, so put them away. 

- Never leave valuables in the car overnight on the drive. 

- Invest in a Blink or Ring doorbell camera. They aren’t too expensive and they are motion censored which is always a deterrent – Jamie has one in his own home.