Proactive Programme contributes to a Dramatic Drop in First Time Youth Offending in Wales

3 October 2014

Since 2007, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of first time youth offenders in Wales. Recent figures published by the Ministry of Justice show there were 1,718 first time youth offenders in 2012 across the four Welsh Police Force areas – a 70% decrease from the 5,694 in 2007.

Officers teaching in a Dyfed-Powys school

Wales is unique in that it is the only UK country that has a national crime prevention programme called the All Wales School Liaison Core Programme (AWSLCP), which is delivered as a partnership between the Welsh Government, the four Welsh Police Force areas and all Welsh schools to pupils aged 5 to 16.

Since 2004, School Community Police Officers (SCPO) across Wales have been forging positive relationships with children and young people through delivering important crime prevention and safety lessons while supporting the schools’ and children’s wellbeing.

Officers teaching a lesson in Gwent

The core aims of the programme are:

  • To work towards achieving crime and disorder reduction within our young communities through the medium of education.
  • To promote the principles of positive citizenship in school and the wider community.

Speaking about how pleased she is with the drop in first time offending figures the National Coordinator of the AWSLCP, Mrs. Linda Roberts said: “I feel that the encouraging figures support previous research that has shown that preventative education or early intervention can help to promote positive attitudes and divert young people from entering the Criminal Justice System. Prevention education can and does make a difference. It is an investment worth making to assist and protect the wellbeing of the young people of Wales.”

This is supported by Lorraine Bottomley, Assistant Chief Constable and National Police Lead for the Programme: "This is very positive news; not only that we have less youths in the criminal justice system, but also that there are substantially less victims of crime caused by youths since 2007. The hard work of our School Community Police Officers, the Welsh Government and Welsh Schools has enabled this superb achievement. It is extremely positive that these partnerships with key stakeholders have had such a real, positive impact on reducing and preventing offending amongst young people."

The AWSLCP offers constructive help to schools through a variety of approaches. The emphasis is on delivering interactive lessons about drug and substance misuse, social behaviour and safety, with SCPOs helping pupils to explore these important issues. Consequently, pupils are better equipped to understand the consequences of their actions and make informed, positive choices.

A Year 9 pupil said: “The SCPO made me feel properly involved in the lesson, and got me thinking about the way I behave.”

Additionally, the officers devote part of their time to supportive school policing which includes providing advice for pupils, teachers and parents and support with behavioural incidents in school.

Guidance for this partnership is provided in the School Crime Beat Protocol, which aims to avoid the criminalisation of young people where possible through the use of restorative practices.  This early intervention prevents issues escalation and provides solutions that are cost effective avoiding long-term expensive strategies.

A head teacher commented: “I feel that pupils benefit from the programme content and the relationships established with the SCPOs. It contributes to their social development and enhances their wellbeing. The SCPO has become an integral part of school life and is someone I can always turn to for extra advice and guidance.”

To enhance the early intervention provision, this summer saw the launch of an exiting new development. The Motivating Our Youth (MOY) National Project was piloted with pupils from Year 8 throughout Wales.

Pupils enjoy white water rafting on the MOY programme
Go karting was among the activities on MOY
Pupils participate in a pathfinding exercise

The inclusive summer project was led by SCPOs in partnership with the Youth Offending Service, Youth Service, Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Wales, PG10 and others. It provided opportunities for pupils identified as being on the cusp of offending to develop key social skills and positive relationships through a mixture of team building activities and educational inputs.

At the end of the week a pupil commented: “I did stuff I don’t usually do, I made new friends and it made me more confident.” Another pupil said: “After what the Police said I will think more about what I do.”

Positive outcomes can be achieved through education. These figures suggest that prevention education and early intervention strategies can have a real impact on reducing offending and preventing young people from entering the Criminal Justice System which inevitably will improve young people’s future opportunities.

Pupils, parents and teachers have 24-hour access to information, advice and more around all important topics covered by the Programme through the interactive website: www.schoolbeat.org

End

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Pupils, parents and teachers have 24-hour access to information, advice and more around all important topics covered by the Programme through the interactive website: www.schoolbeat.org

 

 

Table showing the number of first time entrants (young people) by Police Authority and calendar year (MOJ published data) (2012 unpublished)
Police Authority 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012                                                       
DPP 845 765 704 531 440 445  
GWP 1355 1218 925 733 563 448  
NWP 1234 1274 989 625 494 418  
SWP 1996 1883 1708 1035 539 407  

For further information, contact Jodie Humphries, communications officer: Jodie[at]schoolbeat[dot]org