Prisoners bid to cut youth crime levels

THOUSANDS of young people have benefited from a pioneering project to cut crime and lower anti-social behaviour in the Broadland area - and inmates at Norwich Prison could soon extend it further.

THOUSANDS of young people have benefited from a pioneering project to cut crime and lower anti-social behaviour in the Broadland area - and inmates at Norwich Prison could soon extend it further.

Longer term prisoners at the jail are set to take part in a scheme which will see them talk to young offenders and try to steer them away from a life of crime.

The scheme, which is being developed by Broadland District Council alongside HMP Norwich and aims to convince young offenders not to reoffend, is part of the council's innovative Stairway Out Of Crime scheme.

Simon Woodbridge, leader of Broadland District Council, said: “Many of the longer serving inmates at Norwich prison display a lot of the characteristics that the younger people have.


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“We can see the trends of offending behaviour - and some of the causes which led to it. By getting the inmates to talk to the younger offenders we hope they will point out that they must not let the issues they have ruin their lives.”

The Stairway Out Of Crime project was set up after research carried out by the University of East Anglia after an increase in petty theft and other crimes in the district.

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That research found many of the youngsters who start offending were from unhappy family backgrounds and led to the Stairway Out of Crime scheme which included a range of projects to help tackle yob behaviour.

More than a thousand children aged between seven and 11 took part in workshops which used magic to spread the message of the consequences of bullying and anti-social behaviour, while dozens more youngsters were visited by workers from Leeway Women's Aid and the NSPCC who explored issues surrounding domestic abuse.

Another project is offering groups of young people, predominantly referred by the Youth Offending Team and Connexions to gain construction qualifications while working on a dilapidated house in Hellesdon.

The Youth Access Fund has made cash available for activities to be run over the summer to keep youngsters occupied and stop them from getting into trouble.

In Taverham a youth club called The Taverham Massive was set up on Fridays to combat underage drinking and anti-social behaviour, while the council has worked with the YMCA to provide schools in Aylsham, Reepham and Acle with a support worker to address problems of homelessness.

A meeting of Broadland District Council's cabinet will meet next Tuesday to discuss the future of the Stairway scheme and Mr Woodbridge said it was vital that it continued the good work done so far.

He said: “We are talking very significant numbers of young people who have been part of this. It is a wonderful example of organisations coming together with a shared agenda. The police have been very supportive and we have made a lot of progress.”

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