Supporting young people away from offending
Achieving for Children is working with Kingston and Richmond Police to roll out a programme, called Engage X, to help support children away from offending.
Dedicated youth workers will be available at a number of custody suites in the South West Borough Command Unit. All 10 to 17 year olds who go into custody are given the opportunity to speak to them. The youth workers will work with the children while they are in custody to understand more about their personal circumstances, their motivations and their family support networks. Following their release from custody, they will then arrange to meet again within 24-48 hours to explore possible crime diversion activities, educational opportunities or to work with the family as a whole.
The ambition is that this will further reduce the risk of children entering the criminal justice system and ensure they are engaged with intervention at the earliest opportunity to support diversion from offending.
The Police have been running the scheme elsewhere in London, including Islington and Holborn, where 98% of children have taken up the offer. It quickly became apparent that young people were more open to having honest conversations with the youth workers who listened to their personal experiences and then provided support and guidance.
Michael O’Connor, our Associate Director for Early Help, says: “At AfC we are committed to improving outcomes for children in Kingston and Richmond. We are already doing some amazing and innovative work with children affected by serious youth violence and offending and are engaged with some of the most vulnerable children within our boroughs.
“The Engage project will provide us with the opportunity to do this sooner and when problems emerge. The potential of engagement at teachable, reachable moments is exciting and I am looking forward to seeing the impact of this work on outcomes over the next year”.
Chief Inspector Russell Hughes, from Met Detention, says: “We are changing how we view the custody space and we recognise that there are opportunities for youth workers and investigators to work alongside each other during this teachable, reachable period in time.
“Growing up in London is not always easy and many of the children seen in custody are at a crisis point and often willing to engage with us when offered the chance. This project provides a platform for this to happen and to take these relationships outside of the custody area.”
The Engage project went live in the South West BCU on Tuesday 11 August.