Steering vulnerable youngsters away from organised crime

Image: Action for Children UK

A successful project diverting young people away from a potential life of serious organised crime is being rolled out to cities across the United Kingdom.

Originally launched in Glasgow, the Action for Children’s Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service is being extended to Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cardiff, thanks in no small part to a £4.5 million grant from the National Lottery Fund,

‘Peer mentors’, many of whom are ex-offenders, act as role models with vulnerable youngsters who have in the past not wanted to accept traditional kinds of support from the authorities. From the 49 people supported in the Glasgow pilot, only four carried on offending after being taken under the wing of their peer mentor.

‘Organised crime is an issue for the whole UK’

The Action for Children charity says keeping these four young people out of care has saved Glasgow City Council some £500,000. The scheme will also support 11-18 year-olds one-to-one support, education and employment training.

Paul Carberry, Action for Children director for Scotland, 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.”

‘..expand to help even more young people at risk’

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, added: “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.

Author: Simon Weedy

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