05:00PM, Saturday 16 October 2021
No one took part in a Thames Valley Police £75,000 project to enrol young offenders on a job skills scheme over a six-month period, a report found.
The scheme was intended to help young people who were given conditional cautions for an offence.
The findings were part of a study by crime and justice consultants Crest Advisory, which worked with the force to look at out-of-court disposals (OOCDs).
An OOCD is a method of resolving an investigation into of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour such as graffiti and minor criminal damage.
Under the national strategy, the offender acknowledges their criminality and is not prosecuted.
Thames Valley Police (TVP) is using this as an ‘innovative approach to tackling drug possession amongst youths.’
The TVP plan was for offenders issued with a conditional caution from March to September 2021 to be referred for assessment, then placed on an appropriate job skills scheme.
The Prince’s Trust was given a £75,000 grant from the police’s Violence Reduction Unit to create 100 job skills programme places for 16-30 year-olds.
The programme was intended to reduce reoffending by mentoring unemployed offenders into employment.
However, The Prince’s Trust came back with some ‘worrying information’ – it had only received one referral from the police in the entire six-month period.
Furthermore, this individual failed to make contact to begin the programme.
Crest said ‘an immediate review is needed’ to establish the reasons for such a low referral rate.
A lack of knowledge about the availability of places on the programme ‘is likely to be one factor’, it said.
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said that the report also evidences ‘an increasing confidence’ amongst TVP staff to make the best use of OOCDs.
“The Thames Valley is a large and complex area, which requires a flexibility in approach in order to balance the use of resources to ensure youth cases are reviewed swiftly for the best outcomes,” the spokesman said.
“We will recognise the need to increase the provision of training and operational guidance to officers, staff and when working with our local partners. We are actively working to provide this to our local teams.
“The use of out of court disposals is kept under constant review by the senior leaders of Thames Valley Police.
“Work continues to increase referrals prior to its conclusion in April 2022. We are also working to extend this pilot scheme in order to ensure more individuals can make use of it.”
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.