Coventry and Wolverhampton are to share £2 million to help fight crime involving young people who are suspected of or are already impacted by gangs or county lines – with Wolverhampton set to benefit from around half the funding.
Once the young person has been identified, a team of professionals will then seek to understand the reasons why they are vulnerable and will provide intensive support to them and their families.
This often involves tackling the root causes of crime, including housing issues, limited access to education, ill health, debt or addiction.
Officers and staff are carefully selected for the programme and are provided with specialist training and will be available to provide 24-hour support to those that need it.
This program provides the opportunity to offer support to young people who need it the most and who may not have been able to access it previously.
They will be warned of the consequences of continuing their behaviour and will be provided with all of the support that they need to divert them into more purposeful activities and positive outcomes.
Funding for the scheme has been secured after the West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership successfully bid for cash from the Youth Endowment Fund and the Home Office.
The approach, which originated in Boston and Cincinnati in the USA, is known as ‘focused deterrence’ and recognises that young people who commit crime have often experienced traumatic childhood experiences and may make them more vulnerable to addiction, debt and violence.
The Youth Endowment Fund says focused deterrence has helped reduce crime by 33 per cent in the past.
West Midlands Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Tom McNeil, said: “After years of cuts, I’m pleased to see some investment being made in the West Midlands to tackle the causes of crime.
“We know we can’t simply arrest our way out of the problem and instead need to tackle the factors which lead young people to commit violence.
“We’ll be ensuring this money is spent wisely.”
John Gregg, director of children’s services at Coventry City Council added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to provide intensive support to some of our most vulnerable young people impacted by trauma and violence who may become trapped in the cycle of offending.
“It will ensure that agencies are working effectively together and really understand the needs of the young person and enable the right support to be put into place.
“This will build on existing work already happening to prevent and reduce violence."
Jon Yates, executive director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “When we get the police and the community to work together, we can identify and support young people and pull them away from crime and violence.
“This has worked across the world. We now need to get it working in England. Together, we can make sure that every child’s life is free from violence.”