A new violence reduction pilot aims to reach people in custody at a crucial, tipping point in their lives.
Cleveland’s violence reduction partnership – CURV – is working with youth justice partners to employ four custody navigators.
They will reach out to people involved in – or at risk of – serious violence detained in police custody, who have already entered the criminal justice system.
They will be present at Cleveland Police’s custody suites and available for people who want to turn their lives around – with the primary focus on young people.
By adopting a trauma-informed approach, navigators will work with and support those, who are ready to move away from a life of violence and crime.
After engaging with detainees and identifying their needs, navigators will agree a bespoke package of help and signpost participants to further support.
The package aims to address the underlying reasons for participants becoming involved in serious violence. Those reasons could include issues with drink, drugs or mental health.
Recognising that many detainees – and those at risk of violence – lead chaotic lives, navigators will mentor participants and check that they continue to engage with services, as agreed.
Reachable, teachable moment
John Holden, Head of CURV, describes the point at which young people are detained in police custody as a “reachable, teachable moment.”
It’s a moment when detainees have a chance to reflect on their lives – and if they want to change things.
John said: “This is one of our flagship interventions. Navigators are available to any age group but the focus is on the under-25s.
“The Home Office will evaluate our pilot so it can be scaled up if it is successful.”
The pilot will enhance the work already being carried out by Cleveland’s Youth Justice Services (YJS.)
YJS’ work includes the Turnaround project. It aims to achieve positive outcomes for children, aged 10 to 18, with the objective of preventing them from re-offending.
CURV is also working with partners to create one of the country’s first “youth focussed” custody suites.
That would mean that younger – and less experienced – detainees would not mix with older, more experienced and more violent detainees.
This would not only make the experience less intimidating for young people but also less likely to bring them into contact with bad influences, who could put them at risk of further violence and offending.
CURV has introduced the pilot as soon as possible so it can be robustly evaluated. That in turn will aid justification for longer term funding by partners.
In the first full week of the programme alone, Cleveland’s four custody navigators worked with 24 young people.
Most of them were in custody charged with serious offences, ranging from violence to burglary.