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West Mids launch ‘focused deterrence’ scheme for gang crime

The Violence Reduction Partnership has successfully bid for £2 million for the project which will be based across two sites- Wolverhampton and Coventry.

The initiative will identify young people who are suspected of, or already impacted by, gangs or county lines, in order to provide a support package for them and their families. 

It will include tackling root causes of crime such as housing problems, access to education, ill health, debt and addiction - in an approach known as ‘focused deterrence’ which originated in Boston and Cincinnati, with support available 24/7 if needed. 

Funding was secured by the West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership from the Youth Endowment Fund and the Home Office. 

West Midlands are additionally, however, providing 20 full-time officers, one Inspector and one Sergeant for the scheme.

The scheme was first established in Northamptonshire by Chief Inspector Daryl Lyon, who told Police Oracle that it reduced violent offending of people they worked with by 40 per cent - when comparing the six months before the intervention and the six months after. 

Chief Insp Lyon will now be the project manager for the two sites in West Midlands. 

Funding has also been set aside to look at the longer term impacts of the programme and individuals’ access to services and involvement in crime three or four years down the line. 

There will be numerous ways of identifying individuals who may be helped by the scheme - including text and Whatsapp facilities for referrals - with no ‘lowest’ thresholds for someone to refer. 

Intelligence logs will also be looked at, and parents, local authorities and schools can refer. Those who are arrested for certain offences such as a knife offence are automatically eligible. 

“The job of the police officer, will be to work as a navigator- to build a genuine trust based relationship with that individual and family,” Chief Insp Lyon explained. 

“People will stop as soon as they’ve actually got a tangible way out of offending. So we’ll go an find them an actual job, an actual college place and the conversation goes from ‘well stop offending’ to ‘look we can talk you through how we’re going to start and how we’re going to do that.’” 

Officers will also have a level of psychology training to help them build that relationship. 

“Normally, police are looking at individuals and asking ‘how does policing solve this problem’, instead the officer in this instance is asking ‘what is driving the behaviour’ and no matter what it is it is the responsibility of that navigator to sequence intervention from A to B.”

The £2m funding will go towards the programme’s own analysts, support workers, an opportunities finder, gangs specialists and funding for voluntary services in the local communities. 

“The psychology that officers are trained in helps them to go and develop a relationship with someone who hates what we stand for and what we’re about,” Chief Insp Lyon added. 

“Throughout their entire existence, their experience would have been, ‘you’re going to let me down’, so when we go see them three, four, five times each time they’re arrested - we can say ‘well we keep turning up’. 

“And if you have someone that’s really good at communicating, and who can explain to that person that there’s a way out - the chances of them engaging really skyrocket. 

“It’s about having someone who is an innately good communicator and with some understanding and application of basic psychology you can really make some massive strides in relation to getting people out of gangs and county lines and Northamptonshire was the proof of that.” 

Similar schemes are also due to be established in Manchester, Leicestershire and Glasgow after the funding was announced today. 

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