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West Mercia Police’s Steer Clear programme has received national recognition, winning a Howard League Community Award 2022. 

Steer Clear is a targeted education and engagement programme aimed at young people who are believed to be in some way connected to knife related crime, or there are concerns they may become involved. 

The prestigious awards are presented annually by the Howard League for Penal Reform to people and organisations whose innovative work helps to make communities safer. Steer Clear, funded by Police and Crime Commissioner and delivered by West Mercia Police, was a winner in the ‘Liaison and Diversion’ category. 

For the past three years the Steer Clear programme has taken an intelligence led approach to intervene early and try to prevent the criminalisation of young people who are suspected to be involved, or on the periphery of being involved, in knife related crime. Officers will visit the young person at home and work with their families or carers, inviting them to monthly workshops held in the local community, in order to safeguard them and prevent criminal activity in the future. 

Previous workshops have been well received by young people, featuring guest speakers such as Pride of Britain winner, Hezron Brown, who talked about his experiences as an ex-gang member. The workshops also offer opportunities for valuable peer-to-peer engagement and group support. 

These interventions form a key part of the wider education and prevention work the force does around knife crime. Last week we took part in a national week of intensive action to tackle knife crime, Operation Sceptre, and earlier this month an anti-violence bee sculpture toured the three counties covered by West Mercia Police to help raise awareness of the dangers of carrying a weapon. The initiatives are an example of the work that takes place throughout the year. 

Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion who has invested more than £30,000 in Steer Clear said: “I am proud to see this investment making a real impact. Early intervention and prevention is key in tackling knife related crime and we have had excellent feedback from this partnership approach. Steer Clear helps to make our communities safer and I’m keen to see the project continue to flourish.”   

Chief Constable Pippa Mills said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in the award winning Steer Clear programme. This award is great recognition for an innovative, intelligence led, programme that is making a real difference to the lives of young people and keeping our communities safer.”