Young drug dealers offered driving lessons instead of prosecution
Teenage drug dealers are being offered driving lessons and gym memberships instead of prosecution in pilot scheme
- Youth offenders in Bristol will avoid courts if they take part in ‘Call In Scheme’
- The project is designed to ‘break the cycle’ of offending and offer education
- New scheme will see first-time offenders given the opportunity to learn skills
Teenage drug dealers are being offered job training, driving lessons and even gym memberships instead of prosecution as part of a new police scheme – the first of its kind in Britain, it emerged today.
Youth offenders in Bristol caught dealing will avoid courts if they take up the ‘Call In Scheme’ and given employment and motivational speaking workshops.
The project is designed to ‘break the cycle’ of offending and offers gang members the chance to educate themselves and learn how to get a job.
The new police scheme will see first-time offenders given the opportunity to learn skills aimed at finding them work instead of being hauled in front of a court.
Youth offenders in Bristol caught dealing will avoid courts if they take up the ‘Call In Scheme’ and given employment and motivational speaking workshops (stock image of a drug deal)
It’s aimed at youths ‘arrested for drug-supply offences and at risk of becoming involved in serious criminality, particularly drug and violent crime and gang-related crime’.
Officers say it is a unique scheme in Britain with ’emphasis on encouraging the young person to follow a guided pathway to education and employment’.
It ‘recognises young people can make a wrong choice which risks defining the rest of their lives’ and aims ‘to find new ways to break the cycle of crime’.
Avon and Somerset Police stress that anyone caught offending while on the scheme for 16-21 year-olds will be prosecuted.
If it appears that the person is not engaged then the candidate will be charged with the original offence and the new offence if one is suitable.
The project, which can include driving lessons (pictured) is designed to ‘break the cycle’ of offending and offers gang members the chance to educate themselves and learn how to get a job.
The scheme includes participation in the Street2Boardroomprogramme, access to fitness clubs, workshops, motivational speaking events, work placements and intensive one-to-one mentoring.
Up to 16 people, aged 16-21, will take part.
Detective Superintendent Gary Haskins told the BBC that the police wanted to ‘take a chance’ as most of those involved have only dabbled in dealing.
He admitted there was a risk they could reoffend during the mandatory six to nine month period but that it was a risk the force was willing to take.
Mr Haskins added that the scheme also helped people to get the necessary paperwork and qualifications to work in the construction industry, provided driving lessons and if appropriate, English lessons.
‘Why not give them a chance? What is there to lose? We send them to prison and we’ll see them again,’ he said.
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