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Norfolk’s PCC pledges to continue to support young people at risk of exploitation and knife crime

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green has pledged to continue to ‘protect and safeguard’ young people at risk of criminal exploitation as he supports a national campaign aimed at tackling knife crime.

From today (March 11) Norfolk Constabulary will be one of 44 forces nationally involved in Operation Sceptre – a week of action aimed at highlighting the risks carrying a blade can bring as well as targeting offenders.

Protecting and helping vulnerable young people continues to be key priority for Lorne who since his appointment in May 2016 has worked to secure funding for a number of crucial projects aimed at supporting those at risk of harm and exploitation.

“From the moment I came into office I have made sure, through my Police and Crime Plan, that my emphasis has been on protecting people, helping the vulnerable, preventing crime and reducing the number of lives blighted by horrific offences including knife crime, “ said Lorne.

“I have no higher duty than to do what I can to enhance life chances for young people across the county.

“While I support the national week of action I think it is absolutely crucial that we appreciate there is a bigger piece of work taking place in the county. My office has had a significant impact on funding innovative schemes the length and breadth of the county to prevent crime and protect vulnerable young people.

“Such a ‘prevention together with cure’ culture has been a major focus throughout for me and the highly committed staff of my office. It is absolutely essential we work together with partners to address the root causes of these terrible crimes and to protect the vulnerable.”

Projects funded through the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) to tackle knife crime and help young people at risk of criminal exploitation include the Street Doctors initiative which was first delivered in the county in March 2017.

The innovative project educates young people – mainly from short-stay schools or those involved with the Norfolk Youth Offending Team - about the dangers of knife crime while providing them with life-saving first aid training in the event the worst should happen. Norfolk is the only county in East Anglia where the project has been delivered.

The OPCCN succeeded in securing £700,000 of the Home Office’s ‘Early Intervention Youth Fund’ (EIYF) in November 2018 to improve working between key agencies including police and children’s services in the county.

A number of projects have secured backing through the EIYF including an initiative to fund four detached youth workers in the Norwich area to work with young people at risk of criminal exploitation and associated violence including knife crime. The intelligence-led pilot project will see youth workers going out into the community to engage directly with young people not necessarily known to police or other services.

The team will also provide training to existing youth workers to spot the signs of criminal exploitation.

Through the OPCCN the St Giles Trust has also received £89,028 under the Hidden Victims’ Fund and a further £87,737 under the EIYF to run its SOS+ Norfolk Project to help young people at risk of criminal exploitation.

Headed by a lead facilitator, a team of volunteer peer advisers will provide 120 preventative sessions to around 8,600 school children across Norfolk – offering intensive one to one support for those deemed at high risk.

Awareness raising sessions will also be delivered to around 7,700 parents and 2,130 teachers in the county.

The ‘Pathway Out Programme’ has also secured EIYF through the OPCCN to provide mentoring support to children aged 16 or under who have been referred through the constabulary’s safer schools team, the St Giles’ SOS+ programme, pupil referral  units or the Multi Agency Criminal Exploitation team (MACE). Youngsters will be provided with practical assistance on training and employment as well as emotional support to boost self-confidence.

A team of family support workers is also being funded by the EIYF to give wider help to families of young people affected by criminal exploitation or associated crimes such as knife offences.

“I am proud of the work which is being carried out across the county to help and support vulnerable young people who risk getting or who already are caught up in criminal exploitation or who have found themselves victims of knife crime in some way,” added Lorne.

“We need to work with partners to ensure the right support is in place at the right time so young people in Norfolk can be given the best possible chance to thrive and be safe.”

The Norfolk PCC’s Youth Commission has also recognised knife crime as a concern amongst young people of Norfolk and has pledged to develop a campaign to ensure young people of Norfolk are kept safe.