National recognition for Trust’s work to prevent youth crime
A Doncaster Children’s Services Trust crime prevention initiative, which has cut the number of young people in Doncaster entering the Criminal Justice System, has been shortlisted in a national award.
The EPIC (Encouraging Potential, Inspiring Change) team has been selected as a finalist in the Restorative Approaches category of the Howard League for Penal Reform awards.
Set up in 2016, the focus of the team is to prevent young people aged between 10 and 17 from entering the criminal justice system by deterring them from a life of crime through positive intervention.
In its first year, the programme secured a 49% reduction of young people becoming first-time entrants (FTE) into the criminal justice system. Doncaster’s First Time Entrants rate had previously been the fourth worst in the country. At the end of 2018, EPIC had reduced the FTE rate further by 70%, based on Ministry of Justice national baseline data.
EPIC’s work includes delivering a Think Forward scheme which focuses upon building emotional resilience and consequences awareness, while encouraging young people to get involved in activities designed to increase their opportunities and aspirations. They also run a Crime and Consequences programme in local schools.
Their Team Around the Street works with schools and communities to address anti-social behaviour and, in 2018, engaged with more than 10,000 young people delivering school holiday programmes of activities including Zorb Balling, archery and fencing.
In addition, EPIC has explored how they can go beyond traditional youth justice by designing and running an alternative learning provision for young people who have received a fixed term exclusion for carrying a blade onto school premises.
Among the many young people helped through EPIC is a young girl who turned her non-attendance at school around by re-sitting her Maths and English GCSE and securing a place at Doncaster College, as well as a placement at a farm.
Another example includes a young man who was caught in possession of an offensive weapon and was referred into Doncaster Triage Panel and received an EPIC intervention as an alternative to receiving a Youth Caution.
The young man had walked into school and noticed a TASER on the floor, which he picked up. He offered it to his friend for £10 who in turn purchased it.
The young boy engaged with the EPIC interventions and completed one to one work. He says: “The programme made me think what I need to do. My Caseworker made me understand I need to think there will always be a consequence which follows and it may not be nice.
“I realise I need to concentrate on school and not follow my friend and focus on the future. I will deal with things different from now as I don’t want a criminal record – I want to join the Army after leaving school.
EPIC manager Marcus Isman-Egal said: “We are very excited to have been shortlisted in this category. It’s amazing that the work we have developed in collaboration with our partners, supporting young people, families and communities, has been shortlisted for such a prestigious sector awards event.
“Our success is thanks to key partnerships and collaborations with a range of organisations including South Yorkshire Police. We have also partnered with Doncaster Arts and Leisure Trust in designing and delivering a range of innovative activities and worked with Doncaster Business Chamber to provide aspirations workshops for young people.”
Chief Executive of the Trust, Paul Moffat, said: “The Trust’s partnership approach has helped us to turn the lives of children and young people around who, otherwise, could have been tempted to follow a life of crime. This is not only a positive outcome for them as individuals but also makes our communities a safer and more pleasant place to live.”
“When I met with them, they were very complimentary about the support they’d had from you and the Trust in general. “
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