It was a pleasure to meet with Leicestershire cares staff last Thursday to discuss how they partner with the OPCC and VRN to keep our communities safe. Their main focus is on working with young people. The UP project, which is funded by the VRN, has had great success in working with young offenders. I am always impressed with projects that can back good intention up with clear outcomes and hard data. So, it was good to see that during the period July 20 to June 21:
- 76 young people with previous convictions were supported.
- 33 of the Young People were employed.
- 20 gained CSCS cards (enables them to work in construction)
- Six started Functional Skills English or Maths.
- 95% reported improved employability skills upon exit.
- 95% have refrained from re-offending.
As Siobhan Hirrell, who leads on the work shared “the key to our success is being creative and agile and having strong partnerships with the business community as well as the community sector”.
Building on the success of the UP project the team are with the support of the OPCC also running the “Joining Up and Joining In” project which targets care experienced young people and other young people who are separated from their families. The project seeks to prevent these young people getting “pulled into crime” or if they are already in the criminal justice system, offers them a positive way out. Kieran Breen, CEO of Leicestershire Cares reminded us that “Sadly around 25% of the prison population are care experienced and these young people are particularly vulnerable to being exploited and bullied by County Lines gangs”. The project offers a variety of one to one and group support to the young people, the emphasis being on the young people building up their soft and hard skills, and local connections so they can move on positively in life.
What impressed me during the visit was the obvious passion of the staff and their grounded knowledge and willingness to reflect and learn on their practice. For example, they have identified that prisoner’s children are a very at risk group who are often overlooked or not understood and as such can sadly end up committing crimes. Charlotte Robey Turner head of their Children and Young People team felt “This is an area where we are keen to carry out action research and to work with our many partners to capture the issues and put in place effective actions to support these young people being able to live rewarding, law abiding and happy lives.
It came as no surprise to me to see that the Leicestershire Cares team have been nominated for and won a string of local and national awards for their work. As much national dialogue is now about partnership, corporate social responsibility and levelling up, I am proud to say I think the OPCC, VRN and Leicestershire Cares have developed an approach that many other regions could learn from.
For more information on the work of Leicestershire Cares see https://www.leicestershirecares.co.uk/about-charity/news-events/
For some case studies see https://www.leicestershirecares.co.uk/about-charity/case-studies/
Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland
Posted on Monday 6th September 2021