Young people being exploited or groomed into a violent criminal lifestyle are being offered ‘Another Way,’ with tailored support to free themselves from gang influence.
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Partnership is leading the programme that will work with up to 250 young people who are seen to be at risk of violence, both as victims or offenders, due to their gang associations.
Young people who have been exploited to peddle drugs as part of County Lines activity could be among those offered the chance to free themselves from the grasp of organised criminals and start a brighter future with better life prospects.
The Another Way programme is being targeted at people aged between 14 to 24 who live in the city of Nottingham and will involve key stakeholders, including Nottinghamshire Police and Nottingham City Council, working together to put a package of tailored support in place to prevent offending.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “Serious violence causes high levels of harm to our communities.
“While Nottinghamshire Police does an excellent job in enforcement when violence occurs, we need to also find ways to get ahead and prevent violence from happening in the first place because the cost of violence to our communities is immeasurable.
“It is often some of the most vulnerable young people who are lured into gangs by a lifestyle that they think may be otherwise unattainable. But sadly, they don’t realise they are being groomed and exploited into a life of violence and danger so that ruthless organised criminals can try to keep blood off their own hands.
“Another Way allows us to invest in giving people a way to free themselves of their criminal associations and put violence behind them, so that we protect our communities from further harm.”
Another Way is based on the “focussed deterrence” approach to group violence which originated in the US and is now being trialled in Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Wolverhampton and Manchester.
The project, funded by the Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund until the summer of 2025, works by identifying a group or groups involved in violence, working with local communities to gain support and assistance with the programme, offering support to group members to change behaviour - and where groups or their members don’t comply, they are the subject of robust enforcement.
Having identified those most at risk, there will be some difference in support depending on age.
For under 18s, their primary contact will be with Targeted Youth Support workers in Nottingham City Council’s Early Help and Youth Justice Service.
For 18–24-year-olds, their primary contact will be with Another Way workers within the Slavery and Exploitation Team, within the Council’s Community Protection Directorate.
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion, Cllr Sajid Mohammed, said: “I’m pleased that we have secured funding from the Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund to take forward this project that will help us to consolidate our work with Nottinghamshire Police around supporting young people living in the city who have been drawn into gang and criminal activity.
“As victims or perpetrators, they are at risk of serious violence and exploitation, and this work will offer them a way out.”
Not everyone approached will agree to be involved. Where individuals refuse support, the project will continue attempting to involve them, and where appropriate their families, and identify ways to reduce the risk of harm.
Those who do engage will have support to access a range of support including access to employment.
The programme is also looking to find practical ways to address mental health issues such as trauma.
Resources are also available for youth work, mentoring and community engagement.
Police and partners will step in where necessary and will, of course, continue to take action against those who exploit children and cause violence.
Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “Focused Deterrence has worked around the world – reducing crime by over 30%. It’s time to know whether it can work in England.
“Violence is not inevitable – we can bring it down. The important thing is not about being tough on crime or being soft on crime. The important thing is being smart on crime - we need to do what works.”
Posted on Tuesday 4th July 2023