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Community Trust helps young people build a life away from crime

17 January 2021

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Fleetwood Town Community Trust is thrilled to be involved in an innovative new programme, working with young offenders to tackle violent crime and reduce the chance of reoffending.

The DIVERT programme has been developed to help young people in police custody stop reoffending. They will be encouraged to engage with a DIVERT custody coach so they can address the reasons why they’ve committed an offence, in the hope that their pattern of offending can be broken. DIVERT custody coaches also help young offenders to develop and work towards a plan to meet their education, training and employment goals.

Following a successful similar initiative in London, the DIVERT programme has now been introduced in the North West.

Fleetwood Town Community Trust is one of seven football community trust departments in Lancashire delivering the DIVERT programme, which is running in partnership with Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, Lancashire Police and New Era, and will work with 18 to 25-year-olds who are in police custody for violent crime.

Josh Handley, Community Engagement Officer at Fleetwood Town Community Trust, is a DIVERT custody coach at Blackpool Police Station, and also spends time with young people in Fleetwood, trying to discourage them from committing offences.

He said: “Anything that has a positive impact on reducing reoffending in our community has to be a good thing,” said Josh. “The links we have within the community can hopefully enhance these young people’s lives and allow them to build a better life for themselves and those around them.

“Violent crime can ruin the lives of the victims and also the people committing the offences, so this is such a worthwhile programme. It’s also easier for us to communicate with young offenders because when they see us in a tracksuit and realise that we’re not police officers, it brings in a different element and can break down the barriers.”

Insp Dave Oldfield from the Lancashire Violence Reduction Network said: “The DIVERT programme helps young adults to find hope and explore opportunities so that they can improve their circumstances and build a life away from crime. Helping them make positive changes also improves the lives of their families and their communities, and by reducing reoffending, we are also reducing the number of victims of crime.

“DIVERT has changed the lives of young adults in London and we are confident the programme can achieve the same success here.”

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