Reliance Security is sponsoring a government awards scheme that aims to reduce youth offending.
The Home Office white paper Policing A New Century: A Blueprint For Reform said in December: ‘Crime is a continuum. Minor juvenile offending may connect up with a chain of criminal behaviour. Those engaged in crime form a loosely connected society, linked by inclination, by illicit funding flows, and by the interdependence of criminal life-styles. Some juvenile offenders will, without effective intervention, become the serious criminals of the future. The drug addict who steals will sell the property to someone who in turn will be dealing with more serious criminals, and the local drug pusher will be part of a chain that links him to the international drug trafficker who may also be funding and organising terrorism.’
Manned guarding firm Reliance Security is sponsoring a government awards scheme that aims to reduce youth offending. A 2000 consultation paper Tackling Youth Crime, the Home Office addressed the need to identify those young people most at risk of becoming criminals. Some 40 per cent of crime occurs in 10 per cent of locations; up to 2,000 neighbourhoods are considered high-crime areas, and two-thirds of young offenders are being raised in these areas. With timely intervention to change their behaviour before crime becomes habitual, the government aims to redirect young offenders into more constructive lives. How young offenders are treated today determines tomorrow’s adult criminal population. Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the Youth Justice Board was set up to oversee reform. Among its schemes is the Community Merit Award (CMA). CMAs were launched on some London high-crime estates: in Southwark, Hackney, Islington and Wandsworth, with others across the UK later. CMAs provide incentives to join the Youth Justice Board’s Youth Inclusion Programmes (YIPs). These run in 70 of the most deprived estates in England and Wales, and target young people in each area, who are most at risk of becoming offenders. Youngsters are motivated to work on local community projects – from work on a community website to environmental projects, mural painting and designing safe routes to school. Incentives are earned, and vary. Some will be for collective day trips and activities; and others, gift vouchers.
Chairman of Reliance Security Services Ken Allison says: ‘Reliance has always been committed to partnering with government and the police to reduce crime. The key to the success of the CMA scheme is its innovation ‘ we are seeing high quality support directed right at the heart of the community. By helping to engage disaffected youngsters and provide encouragement to change their behaviour, their individual futures, and the quality of their environment, will both benefit immeasurably. Crime reduction simply will not be achieved by spending money on physical security and increased policing alone. Success will only be achieved through the development of responsibility in young people and their respect for the community. I would encourage the wider security industry to look at the success of this scheme and consider how they too could be involved.’
Nigel Whiskin, Chief Executive of charity Crime Concern, endorses Reliance and the CMA: ‘By tackling youth crime at the neighbourhood level we not only improve the quality of life for everyone and save on police time but we give young people in our poorest communities a new deal for the future.’