‘Of course rehabilitation works-there are more drugs in prisons than on the streets.’

In article in the Havering Daily yesterday (Wednesday 5 January), we highlighted a pilot scheme being launched in South London by Mayor Sadiq Khan targeted for low level Cannabis users to be educated and rehabilitated instead of facing jail time.

In an interview with the London news section of the Havering Daily, we spoke to former London gangster Chris Lambrianou about drug rehabilitation and how it works in our society.

Chris is sadly known for all the wrong reasons. The unhealthy legend of notorious East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray goes on to this day, with many still idolising the two murderers.

Chris spent fifteen years in jail in what was the biggest murder trial the country has ever seen in 1968. He stood in the dock with the east end villains and got sentenced along side them for murder.

He did not murder anyone, but helped a friend remove the body of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie, brutally murdered by twin Reggie Kray, for this Chris paid the biggest price of his life, a fifteen year murder conviction that saw him sent to some of the toughest high security prisons in the country and face months of solitary confinement due to who he was.

That was when his life as he knew it ended, and the man that we know today began.

Since leaving prison, Chris has spent his life helping others in our community and no this is not a gimmick, he really has.

Two years after being released, Chris’ parole officer took him to the Leys community centre, a rehabilitation centre in Oxford where his journey began.

Chris told the Havering Daily:

“They needed help and my parole officer put me forward. They ran an amazing rehabilitation program that reintegrates users back into our society.

“I spent eight years there working with people that helped me in my journey as much as I helped them. It gave me the opportunity to help others and through that, I helped myself. I visited many prisons across the country, supporting as many people as I could.

“Of course rehabilitation works, centres like the Ley provide amazing packages of support. People have the opportunity to meet others like them, to slowly start to be reintegrated back into our society by doing community work. They have staff who care and support them, help them find jobs and places to live.

“Sending people to jail for drug taking does nothing. There is more drugs in prisons than outside on the streets. Offenders come out exactly as they were before or if not worse as they meet dealers inside. Rehabilitation offers users a way to come off drugs, a way to fit in our society again, to get a job or schooling. This is the way forward.

“Sadly these rehabilitation centres have been starved of funding and many have had to close.

“It was by helping at the Leys that I learnt how to grow again and gave me the chance to help others on their journey to fit back into our society.”

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