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Police pilot offers young drug dealers driving lessons to 'cut cycle of crime and reoffending'


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US-based project bids to halt circle of prosecution leading to 'awful waste of talent'.

Tearing up the status quo: A scheme involving driving lessons to try to cut reoffending

Tearing up the status quo: A scheme involving driving lessons to try to cut reoffending

Date - 29th August 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
16 Comments16 Comments}

 

Police are offering young drug dealers a blueprint for breaking the cycle of crime and reoffending with a US-originated scheme of education, apprenticeships, fitness training and driving lessons.

Officers leading the project admit a “catch, court and lock them up” mentality will only perpetuate a continuing circle of prosecution and lead to an “awful waste of talent”.

The Avon and Somerset force hopes the pilot, named the Call In, will provide a legal means of participants making money and, at the same time, cut violent crime.

Those taking part are chosen by a panel and must be aged between 16 and 21, without any convictions for sexual or violent offences.

Participants are given the choice of going to court and facing a potential prison sentence, or accessing Call In services over a six-month period.

They are offered Bristol City Council's post-16 youth services, including education and training, assigned a mentor and given weekly fitness sessions.

The scheme, based on a project in America, is featured in tomorow night's BBC News Channel documentary named Beyond The Frontline.

Detective Superintendent Gary Haskins, who runs the Call In scheme, said: "What I do see is an awful waste of talent, and bright young individuals that have turned to criminality.

"What can we do to stop them offending? That's what the principles of the Call In is all about."

The Call In helps participants to obtain paperwork and qualifications to work in the construction industry and provides driving and English lessons where required.

The first cohort started the Call In scheme in February, with up to 15 taking part.

"Although this is just a pilot, my hope is that we will provide a blueprint for breaking the cycle of crime and prosecution which sees so many young people's potential wasted," Det Supt Haskins said.

His colleague, Superintendent Andy Bennett, said the scheme was for those caught dealing class A drugs who did not pose a risk to the public.

"It is an intensive six months," an officer of 29 years' experience said.

"If we continue to do exactly what we do, what we have always done – catch drug dealers, take them to court, lock them up and job done – they will come back round again.

"This isn't right for everybody but if we can change 15 young people in Bristol and change their future, it has to be good for the city.

"In a few years, there could be 100 young people who have changed their futures."

Two of those on the course have been taken off due to allegedly reoffending, with police now considering prosecuting them for their original offences too.

Councillor Asher Craig, deputy mayor at Bristol City Council, said the city has a "growing issue" with gang-related crime.

"The Call-In scheme offers the chance to intervene early and help young people get the mentoring and support they need to escape the downward cycle of drug-related crime," she said.

Ms Craig said the scheme was based on a successful project in America and helped identify the "best course of action" for each offender.

"Through this, we can help young offenders discover a life free from drugs by providing the help they need to attain employment and learn vital life skills while reducing the amount of crime experienced by our communities," she said.

Clinton Wilson, known as King Aggi, once ran a multi-million pound drug empire in Bristol but is now supporting the initiative.

Mr Wilson, 43, who served 12 years in prison, was part of the Aggi Crew that led to armed police being deployed in east Bristol.

"I would love to try and change some stuff around Bristol, just help the youth, give them some insight," he said.

"Help them from being in these gangs, fighting about nothing and going to prison.

"I just believe these kids are doing this thing because they're scared.

"If we could change mentalities, you can change a whole heap of things in this whole area."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We are working to ensure the police have the resources, tools and powers to keep themselves and the public safe and we recently announced the recruitment of an additional 20,000 extra police officers.

"How police choose to pursue investigations is an operational decision for PCCs and chief constables, but we are clear that we expect them to enforce the law."

  • Beyond The Frontline, presented by Charlotte Callen, will air on the BBC News Channel at 9.30pm on Friday and will then be available on BBC iPlayer.

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So what does that say to the young who work all hours darned hard at a fast food restaurant on minimum wage who want to learn to drive to better themselves or even have their own independence?

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There’s always a “what about ..” question that can be asked of an ideas trying to break the crime cycle. 

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Many of our issues are there because there is a lack of proper support services, for parents and children alike. 

Many of our care home children are basically write offs, they have no chance. They basically end up as cse victims, drug runners or involved in pretty crime. Little is in place to change that. 

Will this work, maybe. Will it fail because its a stand alone system that is not properly supported, probably. 

But fundamentally, the things we are doing now, are not working. If we don't try something else it won't suddenly get better 

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For all the support for this scheme, my question has yet to be answered.

What does that say to the young who are working hard and would love to be able to be able to afford to learn to drive but find it difficult on minimum wages, or none at all?

Commit crime and you get free driving lessons. Why bother trying to study hard and working endless hours on a pittance selling burgers for hours on end?

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“I know how to reduce drug dealing......let’s teach street level dealers to drive......you know, so they can increase the area they have to sell drugs in”

Bloody stupid.

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That had also crossed my mind too Jeebs. Legitimise young criminals (well, at least my driving) by actually giving them the means to carry out their illegal activities.

If they are serious about this, I can't help but wonder that the scheme should be the other way around. Offer half-price driving lessons to all 17-20 year olds, but take that away for offending.

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I can honestly say I was a fairly good egg, but considering how poorly I did at school, the area I was in and the company I kept it may not have turned out that way, fortunately I had a decent moral compass that kept me on the right track. Now had I gone to college while working a minimum wage job bursting my Bottom off to try and get driving lessons and eventually my licence, while the violent creatures, thieves, dealers and users I formerly called friends were getting it for free for literally breaking any law they wanted, I'd probably have lost it myself on at least a few occasions and been on the list for freebies myself. Teaching people to drive means you're helping them deal drugs, helping them to travel and steal cars and opening up even more avenues of crime. So once that finished great they can drive and just be even more of a waste over a larger area. 

It's bad enough in these schools when the little scamps are the ones getting to enjoy themselves while even those of us who hated school and struggled were doing our best. 

Edited by Chief Cheetah
Disguised profanity sanitised
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On 01/09/2019 at 22:11, David said:

So what does that say to the young who work all hours darned hard at a fast food restaurant on minimum wage who want to learn to drive to better themselves or even have their own independence?

Don't bother, crime pays better. The phrase 'crime doesn't pay' has increasingly become a myth, due to a weaker, touchy feely legal system.

Besides, where is the money coming from? Meanwhile, we have people such as single parents, the low paid or unemployed using food banks, facing the threat of eviction because of cuts to welfare aka 'handouts' - perfectly ok for drug dealers to get something for nothing though, eh? All manner of public services are crumbling due to years of under funding. Yet Avon & Somerset are rolling out more freebies to criminals.

I'm sick of this. 

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Someone tried this years ago and, if I remember rightly it was a complete failure.  Also in the early 80's GMP tried something similar by taking over the Ancoats Boys Club building and running it for the youths of Ancoats and surrounding area's.  That was also an abject failure as the Police Staff running it were regularly victims of abuse and assault, and the Police hierarchy were reluctant to take any prosecutions.

I agree with the other contributors, you get no where by rewarding criminal behaviour when the Law abiding youth is ignored.

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