Pioneering project helps steer young people away from crime

A new project funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews to educate young people on law and order to prevent them slipping into crime is already helping to transform lives.

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland PCC Mr Matthews provided funding worth £9,995 to the African Network Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland from his Safety Fund to deliver a proactive crime prevention and training programme to young people from black and minority ethnic communities to increase their understanding of the criminal justice system.

A new video of the organisation’s progress in supporting young people has been shared on the OPCC’s YouTube channel as part of his commitment to keep the public informed of the community work underway to keep them safe.

The project, which has been supporting 20 young people since November, is centred on a ‘theory of change’ approach using education and training as a means of building respect for rules, promoting discipline, confidence and self-esteem, unlocking talent and encouraging a teamwork mindset.

The African Network says limited knowledge of what constitutes a crime or anti-social behaviour and the role of the criminal justice system in maintaining order is part of the reason why some young people from black or minority ethnic communities find themselves in conflict with the law. This can sometimes be the case when young people arrive to LLR from another country and are arrested for an offence that is legal or acceptable in their country of origin.

Mr Matthews said: “Prevention is crucial to my Police and Crime Plan and the primary reason why I launched my Safety Fund. It is vital we deliver meaningful solutions to some of the practical problems and disadvantages young people face which increase their vulnerability to crime. This project is an excellent example of how this is being achieved.

“Giving young people a hands-on understanding of law and justice can provide a catalyst for behaviour change. I’m impressed with the impact the project has made so far and will be monitoring further results to see how we can learn from this approach in the future.”

The initiative aims to increase understanding of how the justice system operates by delivering proactive training and education including visits to police stations, cells, courts and young offenders’ prisons to address misconceptions.

The African Network works with local partners in delivering the programme and utilises a host of guest speakers including magistrates and police officers to enhance the learning experience.

The project aims to address a series of problems impacting young people and their perspectives of the justice system as well as to improve their confidence in the police.

Dr Denis Tanfa, chairman of the African Network, said: “The project supports the relevance of education in building family and community cohesion, and hence community violence crime prevention.

“The value of the training in fostering social cohesion is supported by Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning. Social learning implies that people especially children who grow up in communities where violence is seen as a way of solving disputes/conflicts tend to believe that such behaviour is acceptable and rewarding. These theorists believe that the social environment is the most important factor in acquiring most pattern of behaviour”.”

The Commissioner’s Safety Fund is worth £650k over a two-year period (2021-22 and 2022-23) and is part of Mr Matthews’ ambitious Police and Crime Plan goals to reduce violence, crime and anti-social behaviour and to increase the safety of the public.

Six rounds of funding are available each year alternating between specialist and non-specialist invitations for grants. Organisations can apply for up to £10,000 in support of the Commissioner’s key safety priorities.

To view the video on the African Network and how the funds they receive are being used:



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Sallie Blair
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Posted on Thursday 19th January 2023
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