A former drug addict has got his life back on track. He has put his criminal past behind and started his own business, thanks partly to a reform programme run by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and partner agencies. Chris Saunders, now 31, was well known

A former drug addict has got his life back on track. He has put his criminal past behind and started his own business, thanks partly to a reform programme run by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and partner agencies.Chris Saunders, now 31, was well known to North Devon police, having been involved in around 220 incidents to help feed his heavy addiction.His will to change, and support from agencies under the Safer North Devon partnership umbrella - including the police, health and probation - mean he can now say he has kicked drugs for good.Chris completed the Prolific and Priority Offender Scheme, which included helping him access a placement at the Ovis Farm Project in Barnstaple.And he had this message for potential drug users: "I would urge people to stay clear of the drugs scene. Increased use leads to dependency and crime to fund the next hit. It's a slippery slope."He added: "I decided to change and become clean when my desire to live became greater than the desire to use drugs."He continued: "The scheme helped me to take control of my life. Having the placement at the Ovis Farm Project accommodation and access to support services made me feel that I wasn't alone in confronting my problems and gave me hope and something to build on."I became a Christian and received support from the scheme from the police and other agencies to attend Christian events. Because of this, my faith grew, and I found the strength to succeed."Since completing the scheme, Chris has married and become programme manager of the Christian-based Ovis Farm Project, which supports homeless people and helps them to return to independent living.Sergeant Andy McClenaghan said: "Chris has shown what can be done by having the passionate desire to tackle his drug dependency, funded by criminal activity, and creating a new life for himself."It has been a pleasure to see his successful transformation and his determination to make a fresh start, with the support of various agencies."Sgt McClenaghan said the scheme helped offenders on a personal level and benefited the community by leading to a reduction in local crime.In October Chris was named Princes Trust South West Young Achiever of the Year and is now one of three finalists up for the national awards to be announced in London on March 18.