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UK Youth Crime Prevention Programmes

This section explains how youth crime prevention programmes work in the United Kingdom. Find out how young people end up on a programme and how mentoring can involve parents and families.

The different types of crime prevention programmes help to keep youngsters away from committing crime. They operate within the local communities and often involve the parents and families of young offenders.

Why Place Youths in Crime Prevention Programmes?

Typical reasons why a juvenile may get placed on a programme include:

  • Authorities consider them to be ‘at risk’ of committing a crime.
  • Being involved in anti-social behaviour activities.
  • Having already been in trouble with law enforcement (e.g. police).

Attendance in any of the youth crime prevention programmes would be a voluntary decision.

The scheme would not begin until the youngster, their parents, or carers are completely satisfied with the planned activities.

Most local councils have youth offending teams that run the prevention programs. But, other local organisations, such as some youth charities, also run similar projects.

The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales lists the contact details for youth offending teams. The listings include the names, addresses, phone numbers, faxes and the email addresses for each youth offending team or youth offending service.

Note: You can contact your council if you have concerns about community safety and crime prevention in your area.

Referral Process for Young Offenders

In most cases, it is the police who refer young people to one of the youth crime prevention programmes. Even so, referral can also take place by the youth offending team or by a social worker, a teacher, or a parent.

How the Assessment Works

The youth workers who will be running the crime prevention programme will assess the young person. So, before the program starts, they will use the assessment process to:

  • Determine what kind of support is going to be the most appropriate and suitable.
  • Ensure the intervention of a youth crime prevention programme is going to help the situation.

Note: The youth workers will involve the youngster in the assessment procedure. They will ask questions about their life and their background.

How Crime Prevention Programmes Work

How Youth Crime Prevention Programmes Work in United KingdomThere are several different names used for the programmes, each performing a different function. Even so, they all involve similar activities that aim to keep young people away from serious crime (e.g. drugs, knife crime).

Anyone who decides to take part will get an opportunity to learn new skills. You can also get expert advice about schooling or how to find a job in the UK.

You could be with other young adults, placed in a group program, or you be by yourself (supervised by an adult).

Note: There are many different initiatives, but the ‘youth inclusion programmes’ and the ‘youth inclusion and support panels’ are the common ones.

Youth Inclusion Programmes

Youngsters aged between eight (8) and seventeen (17) could be referred to a youth inclusion program. As a rule, they project would last for a set period of time (often six months).

It is possible for some individuals to attend for longer. It happens most if they need to stay on, or they are finding the activities particularly helpful.

Youth Inclusion and Support Panels

The people that make up these types of support panels are local youth workers or social workers. They will work on ways to reduce crime committed by children from the age of eight (8) to thirteen (13).

One of the main aims is to ensure that the kids get access to local services. It is one way of helping them avoid getting into trouble with the law again in the future.

Young People and the Law

The legal rights of minors differ to the criminal laws for adult offenders. For example, issues of alcohol and violence have a range of consequences with differing penalties for children under 18.

The services often include getting extra help with school work. Getting professional treatment for health issues or for mental health problems can also be part of the program.

The way youth justice interventions work:

The two programmes use an official process known as an ‘intervention plan’. In simple terms, it means everyone must agree on the planned activities for the child. Agreement must also come from the young offender and from their family.

A ‘plan’ will describe what is expected of the young person and what kind of support they will receive in return. The plan can also involve some mentoring activities. It is not uncommon for the child’s family to get involved in the mentorship program.

Note: Courts give different types of community sentences to people convicted of a crime when they choose not to send the offenders to prison.

How Mentoring Programs Work

So, what exactly is a mentor? In general, a mentor is a volunteer with special training. Mentors have no official connection with the police or with the different types of schools. They will spend some of their time trying to help someone in need.

There are several things that mentors can help young people with when they get into trouble with the police. But, the common ones include:

  • How to perform better in school activities
  • Coping with bullying
  • How to apply for job vacancies or college positions

Often, this type of personal help from a mentor is more effective than referring young people to group activities.

The best part?

Mentoring programmes have no specific time limit. So, providing it is helpful, the mentoring of young offenders can continue ‘indefinitely’.

Getting Parents and Families Involved

In most cases, it is better if the parents and families get involved in helping while a young person takes part in a crime prevention programme.

It could involve attending the classes with your child. Or, it may only mean ensuring that your child does what the intervention program asks of them.

Parenting Programmes Explained

The child’s parents, or their carers, can get asked to attend a parenting programme as well if their child gets into trouble with the law. As a rule, it will be voluntary. But, it can also be a compulsory arrangement.

It is often associated with one of the youth crime prevention programmes that the United Kingdom operates. But, it can also be a separate issue.

The way that the UK crime prevention programs work changes from one person to another. The authorities would plan it in a way that works for the young person and for their family as well.

Note: The plan can involve methods to improve parenting skills or checking whether anything at home is causing the youngster to commit crime.

Youth Crime Prevention Programmes in United Kingdom