Herts police chief approves £280,000 project to keep young people out of gangs
PUBLISHED: 11:56 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:56 08 March 2019
A police anti-knife crime project will devote an average of £1,400 per child and young adult considered to be at risk of joining gangs or committing serious crimes.
The Hertfordshire-wide project will use the cash to recruit youth project workers - themselves former gang members - from a London-based youth work trust.
The youth project workers from London-based trust SOS St Giles’ Trust will focus on early intervention and targeted help for young people at risk.
As part of the scheme, local schools will be offered the opportunity to refer high risk young people to an intensive support service to disrupt and divert them away from crime and joining gangs.
The project was piloted in Broxbourne last year, but is going county-wide, including in Welwyn Hatfield, St Albans, North Herts, Royston and beyond.
Broxbourne Safer Neighbourhood Team inspector Roy Stammers said: “As well as delivering assemblies around topics such as gangs, county lines and child sexual exploitation, SOS St Giles’ Trust case workers – who are former gang members – work closely with students who might be at risk of becoming involved with gangs or of placing themselves at other risk.
“By being able to engage and build an initial rapport with younger people, alongside schools, the trust can help deter them from a falsely glamorised lifestyle and offer them support and advice, which enables them to envision a better future by becoming contributory members of society.”
The project has been approved by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Lloyd, whose office put up half the money, which has then been matched by Hertfordshire County Council and district councils.
Mr Lloyd said: “Hertfordshire remains a low crime area with much less knife and serious crime than many parts of the country.
“But we are not immune from national trends and in Hertfordshire we have criminals travelling in from London and across county lines.
“Understandably this is a key public concern that I share, and I am committed to making a real difference and combatting it.
“I have agreed this substantial funding as we need to prevent these vulnerable children and young people being forced in to crime.
“The grant will enable Crime Panels to be set up across the county involving the police, schools, councils and children services to identify those at risk.”
Police officers and councils across Hertfordshire will engage with the project through their Community Safety Partnerships to identify and assist those needing safeguarding.
Youth Offending Teams in the Hertfordshire have identified where offences are categorised as “serious violent crime” knife possession is the most common offence.
The most common age of offending is for age 15-16.