TWO innovative schemes aimed at tackling youth offending in the Humberside force region have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
The North Lincolnshire Respect Court programme and the Night Challenge initiative are among five schemes from police forces across the country in line for the Howard League Community Programmes Award.
The Howard League for Penal Reform - a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison – launched the competition in November 2005.
The scheme is part of the league’s aim to increase public and government support for community sentences.
These annual awards celebrate best practice in community sentencing and champion the cutting edge of the criminal justice system, with work in the community that challenges and changes people for the better – be it unpaid work, drug and alcohol treatment programmes, or restorative justice.
By finding outstanding community programmes that work with individuals who have committed crime, it is hoped that the Community Programmes Awards will not only celebrate success but also promote positive practice in the delivery of community sentences.
The winners of this year’s awards will be announced Tuesday, July 21, at a glittering ceremony in London – presented by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.
Chief Superintendent Scott Young said: “Humberside Police are incredibly proud to have been shortlisted for Howard League awards in relation to our Respect programme and the Night Challenge.
“It’s testament to the hard work and innovation of our teams across the force, in particular working with young people, improving their aspirations and supporting our communities.”
Cllr David Rose, cabinet member for Children’s Services at North Lincolnshire Council, said: “It is fantastic that the Respect Court and Night Challenge have been shortlisted for the Howard League Community Programmes Award.
“Our Youth Offending Service has been working with the police on the Respect Court Programme which has seen some great successes.
“We want to reduce the number of young people offending in North Lincolnshire and the Respect Court Programme makes a big difference.
“We have seen the reoffending rates in North Lincolnshire dropping thanks to the brilliant work of this programme and partnership work. Well done to everyone involved.”
Respect Court Programme:
The aim of the award-winning scheme is to divert young people from committing crime. Run by the force in partnership with North Lincolnshire Magistrates Court and, North Lincolnshire Council’s and the Youth Offending Service, it was launched in January 2010 and has seen a dramatic fall in reoffending rates.
Working in conjunction with the young person’s parents or carers, the young person is taken to Scunthorpe Police Station, where they have their possessions taken off them and they are locked in a cell.
From there, they are brought from custody into the dock at Scunthorpe Magistrates Court, where they are forced to explain to the magistrates why they are there. Their parents or guardians are also present.
Magistrates then lead a discussion around the consequences of their actions.
Two short presentations are then given to the families.
In the year prior to the launch of Respect, Humberside Police saw 27.7 per cent of young people who had been reprimanded coming back to the attention of officers.
Already, 350 young people have been put through the scheme and at end of March 31, 2014, the rate of reoffending had dropped to 1.7 per cent.
Among the areas of offending targeted by the scheme are:
- Criminal damage
- Public Order Offences
Sgt James Main, who has been instrumental in delivering the programme, said: “By going through this process the young person does not receive a reprimand and as such a criminal record.
“In principle, it is similar to the driver improvement scheme for those slightly exceeding the speed limit. It gives young people a second chance and a chance to analysis their behaviour.
“By reviewing each case and young person, the agencies are able to put a bespoke package in place and look at the family make up and surroundings. There are often further ‘needs’ identified and other appropriate agencies can then be brought in to prevent further offending or give family support.”
Neil Scrimshaw, one of the magistrates involved in the project, added: “The magistrates are committed to working in partnership with other stakeholders to prevent offending by young people.
“As members of the local community we are proud to be part of a project that has contributed to the reduction of offending rates across North Lincolnshire.”
Designed to bring young people face-to-face with the potential consequences of their actions, the Night Challenge is an exciting overnight orienteering experience, made up of a series of challenges.
Throughout the night, young people aged between 13 and 17 are encouraged to work together as a team, as they complete mental and physical tasks over a 14 mile hike.
The initiative is run in conjunction with Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Humberside and Lincolnshire Orienteering Club, HM Prison Service and other partners.
Having originated as ‘Nite Pilot’ in the 1980’s the Tribune Trust re-introduced the event in 2007.
The first challenge was a simulated road collision where communication and team building skills were tested, culminating in a court room scenario where an actor played the deceased’s mother to portray the impact on the victim’s family.
This led onto a prison challenge, where a serving prisoner spoke of the reality of having to live every day with the guilt of taking somebody’s life.
The purpose of the project is to engage hard to reach young people who may be on the cusp of offending and educate them regarding consequences.
Team work, communication, leadership and relationship building with the Police and partner agencies are also primary objectives.
And the scheme is proven to increase awareness around a number of the issues raised.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
In October 2012 the Respect programme was awarded the first National Communications Trust ‘Shine a light’ award for a partnership approach to reducing young persons’ offending and use of excellent communications.