Sophie Frost receives her certificate from PCC Sue Moutstevens
Young people in Bristol have been celebrating their achievements on a new diversionary scheme funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Bright Outlook's motto is 'aspire to inspire' and gives young people a taste of life behind bars or a visit to custody, in a bid to change their views and steer them away from crime and anti-social behaviour. The pilot received £48,000 funding by the Police and Crime Commissioner, some of which will be going to the University of Bath to research the success of the scheme, as well as £20,000 from safer Bristol.
The programme has been set up by officers on the local neighbourhood police team in Easton and local charity Bristol Mediation. This is being run in partnership with Safer Bristol, Early Help and FIT (Troubled Families) and the Prince's Trust, amongst other agencies. PC John Shaddick who runs the scheme for the police said: "Young people whose behaviour is a concern are referred into the programme as a way of engaging with them and helping them to alter their behaviour and mind-set. "So far, results have been very positive and the diversionary tactics seem to be working. None of the young people who have been on the phased courses since it started in June are currently on the police or other agencies' radars. They are helped to stay on the right path by continuing to receive mentoring and guidance after completing the course." On September 23, some of the young people who have taken part in the course received awards from the Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Moutstevens at a special event in Bristol.
What does the scheme consist of?
The scheme includes three 'phases' which expose the young people involved to a real life police and / or prison experience, as well as hearing from victims, ex-offenders and serving prisoners. Children of different ages take part in the different phases depending on their age and circumstances.
- Phase One consists of a visit to a police custody unit, where the young person is processed into a cell and treated as an arrested person would be (i.e. having their belongings, fingerprints, DNA and custody photograph taken, sitting in a cell etc.) They meet with an ex-offender who explains the consequences of committing crime and also with a victim who talks about the impact crime has had on their life.
- The DNA and fingerprints are destroyed at the end of the project. We take them to ensure the process is as close to real life as possible and to show children that having these things taken does have real consequences.
- Phase Two involves a court room experience, with the young person standing trial in front of a packed court room. They are found guilty and sentenced, then sent to a cell beneath the court where they experience prison life. They will sit in a cell and eat prison food, as well as discussing with a serving prisoner the realities of life in prison. The aim is de-glamorise prison.
- Phase Three is a six week programme of weekly workshops, looking at role models and helping the young people to challenge their own thoughts and behaviour. They will meet with ex-offenders who have turned their lives around and will learn about the impact of crime on victims. Emphasis will be on mentoring for the young people and providing on-going diversion from criminal thoughts and behaviour.
Young people who have taken part are already feeling the benefits. Sophie Frost aged 16 and from Redcliffe said: "The course was a real eye opener. I did the phase one custody visit and it was kind of scary. They treated us like proper offenders and didn't go easy on us because we're kids. It really made me think about my future and that I didn't want to carry on the way I had been.
"It's been a real eye opener"
"Before the course I had been getting into trouble, bunking off school and smoking in the street, things like that. But I haven't bunked off since and am settling down at school."
Corey Mcloughlin, aged 14 from Staple Hill said: "It was all very real and quite scary. It made me think that I really don't want to go down that path and that there are other things I can do."
Parents and carers have also seen changes in their children since taking part. Donna, whose son has been on the phase 3 workshops, told guests at the event: "He'd been getting into trouble at school and was caught with drugs and arrested. The police contacted me and told me about the Bright Outlook scheme and it seemed like it would really help him. The scheme has been fantastic - it's helped him to steer clear of some of the people who had been getting him into trouble and to settle down at school.
"The mentoring he's had has shown him an alternative path and he's now channelling all his energies into his music, which he loves to make and produce."
Donna added: "I work in a local primary school and now I know about the Bright Outlook scheme, if I see any kids who I think might be going down the wrong path then I know there is someone I can put them in touch with who cares and can help."
Marky Kaye, whose nephew Daniel has taken part in the scheme says the change in Daniel since he took part has been amazing: "The mentoring aspect of the scheme has really helped, not just Daniel, but the wider family as well. It's helped all of us to realise that there's a way to put Daniel on the right track and, importantly, he's made his own mind up about that. He actually listened to what the mentor way saying and now he's more inclined to listen in general and seek help before there's a problem."
Who is involved?
This is a multi-agency scheme involving the police, Bristol Mediation, Safer Bristol and Early Help. It is being part-funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner who has given £48k to the pilot, some of which is going to the University of Bath to research the success of the scheme. Safer Bristol has provided £20k.
Bristol Mediation, a local charity based in Easton, have employed two project/youth workers who run Phase 3 of the programme, as well as working in schools, providing outreach and street work, running courses in central schools and a weekly drop in at Kensington Baptist Church on Stapleton Road. They also provide a lot of the 1:1 mentoring which is key to this scheme.
A Diversionary Referral Group meets regularly and young people can be referred to take part in the project through a number of channels including schools and social services. The police then decide on the most appropriate phase for the young person to take part in, by visiting them in their homes and speaking to their parents. Young people are only asked to take part if they are willing to engage and are not currently told that they have to attend.
The Prince's Trust is now also on board - 50% of their referrals have to be ex-offenders or to have come under the police's radar. Young people who complete phase three may be referred to the Prince's Trust for apprenticeships, courses, work experience or other opportunities, thus helping them to stay on the right path.
Other agencies involved include 2nd Chance and Single Parent Action Network (SPAN)
When is it happening?
Currently this is a pilot scheme, part-funded by the PCC until the end of March 2015. The next instances of Phases 2 and 3 are starting on the 12th September 2014.
It is hoped that if this project is a success (which will be measured by the results from evaluations and the research by the University of Bath) then it could be rolled out into other areas of the force.
Posted on Thursday 25th September 2014