Kristy Stephens, Hannah Blades, Debbie McGibbon and Emma Atkinson
Three qualified teachers and a criminology graduate with youth work experience have joined Cleveland Police to deliver innovative courses which aim to change children’s behaviour for the better.
For around 9 months now, the Early Intervention Coordinators (EICs), funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, have been working closely with neighbourhood police teams and schools across the Force area.
They aim is to use “interventions” to support children at risk of offending and those with wider behavioural problems
There are three early interventions on offer: ‘Let’s Get Along’ for children who are violent to family members; ‘Respecting our communities’ to tackle antisocial behaviour and ‘Understanding others’ to target Hate Crime and prejudice.
The EICs use their teaching background to coach young people into developing strategies to avoid negative behaviour and to understand consequences.
Police officers can refer young people to the EICs, as can schools (with parental consent) and social workers.
The EICs also search police logs to find jobs where they may be able to assist, such as instances of missing people or antisocial behaviour.
The mother of a 10-year-old child who completed one of the interventions wrote to the Force to say ‘We have been brought closer as a family and for that I am eternally grateful.’
Her child was ‘lashing out’ at her, and a sibling – physically and verbally – potentially as a result of witnessing domestic violence at home.
The mother’s letter said the ‘Let’s Get Along’ intervention, run by EIC Debbie McGibbon, helped her child manage their anger. She now felt her child would ‘develop into a pleasant and nice natured adult’.
Middlesbrough EIC Debbie McGibbon explains: “The last thing anyone wants is for a child to set off down a path where they’re at risk of offending.
“We’re focused on working with children even before the age of criminal responsibility to achieve real behaviour change.
“We’ve created interventions which help young people understand the impact of their actions.”
Youngsters spend an hour a week for three consecutive weeks on each course. Sessions can be one-to-one or group based.
In Stockton, EIC Hannah Blades supported a family where the children were attacking their parents physically and filming it on their phones. Hannah worked alongside social workers on a series of interventions. The family is no longer in crisis.
In Hartlepool a PCSO referred a teenager who had stolen from family members and was thought to have involvement with drugs. EIC Kristy Stephens was able to help coordinate SAFER referrals, get early help for the family and build a positive relationship with the young person’s school.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: "My commitment to neighbourhood policing is at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan and these important roles were one of 22 new specialist positions funded by my additional £1.5m investment.
"Early intervention is key to diverting young people away from engaging in antisocial or offending behaviour and I'm delighted to hear about the positive change these roles are already making on young people and their families in Cleveland."
Posted on Friday 9th March 2018