Youth project saves police cash

Sue Cotton, CEO of CANW; Alban Mercer, CANW Trustee; David Fleming, Manager for Blackburn with Darwen Youth Justice Service; Faith Marriott MBE Criminal Justice Group Manager for CANW; Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner.
Sue Cotton, CEO of CANW; Alban Mercer, CANW Trustee; David Fleming, Manager for Blackburn with Darwen Youth Justice Service; Faith Marriott MBE Criminal Justice Group Manager for CANW; Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner.

A ground breaking scheme designed to stop young people taking up a life of crime has helped communities in Lancaster and Halton.

The Custody Triage Service, developed by CANW (Child Action Northwest), diverts youngsters who’ve committed low level crimes away from the criminal justice system by offering them the chance to take part in community reparation schemes.

CANW has saved Lancashire Police almost £190,000 in the last 12 months.

The project includes a maintenance and repair scheme at Lancaster Cricket Club and grounds maintenance work at Halton Community Centre.

Triage helps young offenders understand and take responsibility for their behaviour, addressing issues such as drugs, alcohol and anger management.

It also offers one to one mentoring to help young people access training, education and employment opportunities.

Figures from CANW estimate that the scheme, which has run county-wide since 2010, saved the police £186,000 between 2015 and 2016 by helping 606 young people who would otherwise end up in the youth justice system. Since 2008, the scheme has helped a total of 3,300 youngsters.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, who commissioned the initiative from CANW, visited the charity to hear about the progress the scheme had made. He said: “The Custody Triage Service has made a massive difference to the lives of young people in Lancashire. Without the scheme an extra 3,300 young people would go through the youth justice system which can be more expensive for the authorities and have poorer outcomes for offenders and communities.

“Triage gives young offenders a vital opportunity to turn their lives around, giving them the chance to pay back their communities and build brighter futures instead of getting involved in more serious crimes, before it’s too late.”

It’s hoped the Custody Triage Service, which was originally piloted in Blackburn with Darwen in 2008 will eventually be rolled out by police forces across the country.

CANW’s Criminal Justice Service Manager Faith Marriott MBE, who developed the service after witnessing the impact of a similar scheme in London said: “We’re really pleased with the results the Custody Triage Service has produced for Lancashire Police over the last twelve months.

“Our aim is to reduce the number of low level offenders who come back into the system by taking an holistic approach to each young person we see.

“It’s important to address not just the crime but the issues behind it, such as victims, unemployment, mental health issues or problems at home.

“By helping young people make amends for their behaviour and providing a strong programme of support Triage helps them build strong links with their community, learn new skills and turn their back on a life of offending.”