Violence prevention specialists have secured more than £1million from the Home Office to launch two new multiagency teams in police custody to tackle youth violence.
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), in collaboration with the City and County Council, submitted a bid to the Home Office’s Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) in May to fund Divert Plus – a new scheme working with children aged between 10 and 17 arrested for violence or other offences.
The project will see new teams based in Mansfield and Nottingham Custody Suites who will offer support and advice to young people at a critical moment in their lives when they are most open to change.
Young people recruited to the scheme will be offered mentoring for up to 12 months in addition to speech and language support - an issue for the majority of young people in the youth justice system.
The scheme will complement existing custody work delivered through the NHS Liaison and Diversion Team, which offers mental health support to young people, and the VRU-funded diversionary project U-Turn, which supports young people and young adults in the justice system into employment and training.
The VRU has already secured £442,550 from the Home Office to deliver the project in 2021-22, in partnership with Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Services. The additional YEF funding, which amounts to £1,052,000, will support delivery of the project until March 2024.
Natalie Baker-Swift, Interim Head of the NNVRU, said: “Turning away from crime and violence is a process and doesn’t happen overnight. Young people need specialist support and encouragement to make small changes to their lives and most importantly, they need time.
“Whilst we work to prevent children or young people being impacted by violence in the first place, the custody setting provides a powerful moment to intervene. It gives young people an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and the circumstances of their arrest and can support them to achieve a more positive future.
“The success of U-Turn speaks for itself with many young people securing employment or training opportunities for the first time in their lives. Working with our partners, we want to build on this success and expand the support we provide young people at what is a critical stage in their lives.”
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “It is testament to the VRU’s track record in preventing serious violence that this level of funding has been secured, ensuring the team can continue to deliver a meaningful impact on the lives of those most at risk of violence and reoffending.
“Tackling serious violence is a top priority for me and I will continue to work with our partners and fight for the funding urgently needed to support young people in their choices and steer them towards a better future.”
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Chairman of Children and Young People’s Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “This project will help to provide support as well as positive activities, with the aim of steering young people away from involvement in violent crime at an earlier stage. The Council’s youth teams will work closely with young people and partners to understand how best to meet their needs. Together they will deliver targeted intervention and activities aimed at supporting young people and encouraging them to develop interests which will lead to better outcomes for them and their futures.
"We are committed to the young people of Nottinghamshire and to tackling this important issue."
The scheme, which is expected to launch in January 2022, targets young people aged between 10 and 14 but is flexible and could work with those aged up to 17. There is a particular interest in supporting those who have not previously been involved in the criminal justice system.
The team will consist of a team leader, four youth justice workers and sessional youth workers from Building Bridges Breaking Barriers, Stronger People and the County Council as well as two speech and language therapists.
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Posted on Friday 15th October 2021