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Young people who are at risk of committing crime or being exploited will benefit from a new partnership that is aimed at preventing them from entering the criminal justice system.

The Children’s Society has been chosen to support the Police and Crime Commissioner in improving the lives and outcomes of the most vulnerable children and young people in society through diversionary activities.

As part of the Commissioner’s West Mercia Diversionary Network, The Children’s Society will deliver an Early Intervention and Prevention service for 10 to 17-year-olds, which will incorporate sports, dance, arts and music. The service will work with individuals who are: missing education; starting to be reported as missing; or at risk of entering the criminal justice system.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I am committed to improving the lives of young people and preventing them from going down the wrong path in life. The trauma that these individuals can experience in their lives leaves them vulnerable, which greatly increases the risk of them being exploited or entering the criminal justice system.

“I’m delighted to be working with The Children’s Society. Together we can work to reduce the risk of young people being exposed to criminality by building resilience within them. We can also work to change the culture and raise more awareness around adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – making those subject to trauma, survivors of their life circumstance rather than perpetrators of crime.”

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “We are excited to be delivering an innovative new programme to help draw young people away from criminals and divert them into sports and other activities that can enrich their lives. This is the first programme of its kind and it is fantastic that the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner has recognised the value of preventative work to stop children from being drawn into ‘county lines’ and other forms of exploitation.

“This promises to be a truly transformative programme, helping children to find new passions, form new, healthy friendships and learn how to recognise people and situations that might put them at risk.

“We can’t wait to get started and look forward to working with schools, police, social care, activity providers and many others across the region to help build safer communities for our children and young people.”

Those who are able to offer diversionary activities within West Mercia are encouraged to register their interest to attend the launch event, which takes place on Thursday 19th March. To find out more, please contact: [email protected].

Issued on: Wednesday 4th March 2020