Banged Up Dave's bright future

AT just 12 years old Dave Fell launched his criminal career which would see him in and out of jail for the next 18 years.But today his life could not be more different as he embarks on a new path of helping troubled youngsters turn their lives around.

AT just 12 years old Dave Fell launched his criminal career which would see him in and out of jail for the next 18 years.

But today his life could not be more different as he embarks on a new path of helping troubled youngsters turn their lives around.

And he has been inspired to carry on his good work after starring in a ground breaking TV series, Banged Up which works with charities, youth groups, community projects and concerned parents to offer an insight into life in jail.

Mr Fell, from Needham Market, spent 18 years in and out of jail for burglary and theft and escaping from jail, but he eventually turned his own life around.

The father of three studied psychology and martial arts - earning him the nickname The Samurai - and went into working for the care industry where he has been helping others for 12 years.

Now Mr Fell, who has a long-term partner, Elaine Catling, has been selected to film for the show Banged Up, which is aired on Channel Five.

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Young people with problems go into an old prison in Scarborough and experience what life could really be life for prisoners, meeting ex criminals who are now on the straight and narrow.

Mr Fell, 44, who currently works with 11 to 15-year-olds at Four Elms in Stonham Parva near Stowmarket, said: “I got a call out of the blue to see if I would be interested and I was very humbled by it all.

“I was one of the ex, reformed offenders who went in there and it was great to be involved and they were an amazing group of people.

“If youngsters see that it is cool to do the right thing then there will be a very minute number of children left that we have to be concerned about.

“You can be surrounded by so much negativity, fear, and judgment, but the show has given me the passion to continue.”

Banged Up, the new series currently featuring former Home Secretary David Blunkett, tackles head-on the sensitive issue of juvenile behaviour and rehabilitation.

Each contributor on the series has a very different story to tell and the viewer follows them on their own personal road to rehabilitation.

Five's Head of factual entertainment and multi-channel commissioner, Steve Gowans, said the series is a fascinating social experiment tackling an issue that could not be more relevant.

First-hand accounts and testimonies from the former criminals including Dave's underline the consequences of what you can expect if you choose a life of crime.

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PANEL: Dave's descent into a life of crime - and how he turned it around to help and inspire others.

Mr Fell was one of four brothers, who grew up in a broken home with his mother working hard to keep the family together.

His relationship with his step-father was difficult and he struggled to concentrate at school.

He was diagnosed with learning difficulties, felt stigmatised, lacked self esteem and started to rebel.

At the age of 12, he started to steal, taking sweets from a shop he got into on three occasions and handed them out to pals at school. He would break into shops even if only to bounce around and play games on the beds in a furniture store.

After being arrested he was sent to a care home and later a tough detention centre. Back in care between the ages of 14 and 16, he started to turn his life around, gaining an NVQ in engineering.

But he struggled to find any decent work and eventually lost his focus and got back in with his old friends and finally ended up in and out of prison once more.

He even escaped from a police station and went on the run for weeks, and later broke out of a prison coach while being transferred from Ipswich Crown Court to Norwich.

But Mr Fell knew after his time inside that he had a choice - to disappear into prison and lose himself forever or to look at his life and turn it around.

He started reading hundreds of books inside learning about therapy, psychology, personal development, different religions, and as well as taking part in a programme listening to inmates who were suicidal to try to help others.

When he was released he started working with an ex prison governor who visited schools to make youngsters aware of the pitfalls of a life of crime. He also worked in care homes at first as a relief worker and later full-time for seven years.

He was promoted to senior residential social worker and activities manager working with older youths for four years in north London, worked in exclusion centres and started in January at the Four Elms centre as activities manager helping 11 to 15-year-olds with behavioural problems.