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  • Writer's pictureWipers Youth

Focused Deterrence scheme to divert young people from violence

A £7 million US-inspired programme to divert young people from violence has been launched by The Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund.

Under the scheme, young people who are involved in violence will be given a new choice to access help and opportunities to turn their backs on violence for good. However, if the support is refused and they continue to make their communities unsafe, the young people will face consequences through the enforcement of tough sanctions.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “Focused deterrence is proven to reduce crime. This £7 million programme will offer young people a route out, combining community support and mentoring to encourage them to seek help, as well as swift enforcement action to divert them away from violence."

The Home Office is investing £3 million and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) are pledging £4 million respectively to the ‘Focused Deterrence,’ pioneered in Boston (USA) in the mid-1990s to address the escalation in gun-related murders.

Focused Deterrence was also used effectively in Glasgow in 2008 to tackle territorial gang violence problem in the Scottish city.

The police, local authorities, community organisations, health services, schools, colleges and probation services work together in the multi-agency approach which works by identifying and targeting individuals (aged 14-years and over) in a local area who are involved – or are at risk of becoming involved – in serious violence.

Individuals are offered tailored support which could include mentoring, access to education, training and employment opportunities, mental health services, housing advice or other services that address underlying issues in their lives, relationships or neighbourhoods.

If, however, the offer of support is turned down and the violent behaviour continues, young people will face swift police action and legal sanctions will be enforced.

On average, Focused Deterrence strategies reduce crime by 33%, according to research.

The scheme will now be introduced in Coventry, Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester and Wolverhampton.

The delivery of the Home Office and YEF-funded programme will be led by the following organisations in each location:

  • The West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership in Coventry and Wolverhampton

  • Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit in Nottingham

  • Violence Reduction Network in Leicester

  • Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit in Manchester

The Focussed Deterrence will commence in May 2023 and continue until August 2025.

The Youth Endowment Fund’s mission is to find what works to prevent children and young people from becoming involved in violence and act to put this knowledge into practice.

The charity has commissioned the University of Hull to evaluate the impact of Focused Deterrence across the five cities. The research will provide new insight into how the strategy can be adapted and adopted to reduce violent crime in the UK.

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.”

Sammy Odoi, managing director of Wipers, said: "Mentoring, access to employment, education and training combined with support to access mental health services and housing advice are all key components when trying to break the cycle of any type of crime and can certainly assist in reducing violence. Showing young people that there is an alternative to violent crime and having access to a mentor with whom they can build a trusted relationship with an adult can make significant changes to a young person's life."


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