William Eichler 29 October 2019

Pioneering project ‘diverts’ children from organised crime

A programme diverting young people away from a life of serious organised crime is set to be rolled out to a number of cities across the UK, a children’s charity has announced.

Action for Children’s Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service will be rolled out to Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cardiff, funded by £4.6m from The National Lottery Community Fund.

The programme, which has been running in Glasgow since 2013, is the first of its kind in the UK to use ‘peer mentors’ to help children escape from a life of serious organised crime.

These mentors, many of whom are former offenders, offer accessible role models for teenagers who have previously resisted other types of mainstream support.

Out of 49 young people supported by the programme, just four continued to offend after receiving support. One teenager who had committed almost 600 offences has not reoffended since taking part in the Glasgow project.

By diverting four ‘high risk’ young people from secure care, the project represented a saving of over half a million pounds for Glasgow City Council over six months, according to Action for Children.

The service will also offer targeted support to 11- to 18-year-olds through intensive one-to-one support, peer mentoring, education and employment training.

Action for Children director for Scotland, Paul Carberry, said: ‘Serious organised crime is an issue for the whole of the UK, disproportionately impacts the more vulnerable in our communities, and has a greater presence in socially and economically disadvantaged areas.

‘Since 2013 this project has worked intensively with more than 70 young people across Glasgow, diverting them away from a life in serious organised crime and into employment.

‘The success from Scotland will lead the way across the UK to help ensure that every child and young person in the country has a safe and happy childhood with the foundations they need to thrive.’

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, adds: ‘Action for Children’s Serious Organised Crime project has proved to be very effective in Scotland, and we’re proud that National Lottery funding will now see it expand to help even more young people at risk.

‘By identifying and diverting young people away from serious organised crime and towards positive choices, this project not only helps reduce lawbreaking, but also helps them to thrive.’

The project will be rolled out in Edinburgh in January, and in Newcastle and Cardiff by April 2020.

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