Sussex Police has been playing a major role in the county’s youth early intervention programme, which has accepted over 300 referrals since launching in April.
The programme, called REBOOT, involves partnership working between the NHS Partnership Trust, the Youth Offending Service and local charities and the scheme has all been made possible through the funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.
REBOOT uses a five-stage police-lead referral process which works with young people to tackle the problems they face, move away from negative behaviours and instead channel their focus on investing in their futures.
Sophie (not her real name), 14, was referred to REBOOT after being identified as having a high number of risk factors, including using cannabis, temporary exclusions from school and causing anti-social behaviour.
Through the programme, Sophie was assigned a youth coach and improvements in her behaviour has seen her not come to the attention of the police since. Sophie plans to continue her education, has started kickboxing and her REBOOT coach plans to introduce her to a local youth club in the future. As a result of this, Sophie will soon no longer require the additional support.
Success stories in this programme, such as Sophie’s, are not unusual according to Ms Bourne and REBOOT will continue to invest and provide guidance to the young people of Sussex when required, she says.
“The reality is that young people are vulnerable to exploitation. By arming them with the tools needed to make informed positive choices for themselves, we are minimising the risk of their involvement in anti-social behaviour, knife crime or drug-related crime in our communities.
“We understand here in Sussex, that we cannot arrest our way out of this societal issue. We are instead looking at the bigger picture and working with partners to curb potential criminal behaviour at its early stages.
“I am committed to safeguarding young people and giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. The REBOOT approach is clearly working. Not only does it empower young people to make better decisions but it also educates them on the consequences of their actions.”
Sergeant Kate Blackbourn who heads up REBOOT’s policing protocol, says: “The value in REBOOT starts with engaging with the young person one-on-one in their home setting, and making their parent or guardian aware of the risks that have been identified.
“These timely interventions with the police and the support provided through partner agencies, helps young people to build their resilience and improve their own critical thinking ability. We encourage the young person to recognise the risks to themselves and really think about who they are associating with.
“We have already seen how REBOOT can really change the direction of a young person’s life. Simply by investing early on and helping these young people develop their skills and build on positive relationships, we can divert them away from situations which would otherwise put them at risk of serious violence.”