New crime programme will target repeat youth offenders

A new youth justice programme which aims to reduce the number of young people re-offending in Derby has been developed with the help of Nottingham Trent University. The Acquisitive Crime Programme - which is intended to identify repeat offenders who are most at risk of custody - will involve the delivery of a series of targeted one-to-one and group sessions with a specific focus on changing offenders' behaviour.

The programme, for 15-17 year olds, has been developed for the Derby Youth Offending Service and is designed to address trends in Derby city relating specifically to domestic burglary, personal and business robbery and vehicle crime. The reduction of such crimes is a key element of the government's public service agreement regarding making communities safer, and the new programme comes as suitable youth justice initiatives were sought by the Derby Community Safety Partnership.

It will be offered during sentencing as part of a youth rehabilitation order, and it will be a requirement to attend and complete all the sessions, which will be led by youth offending service workers. The sessions will be interactive and aim to get to the root of why an individual is offending, as well as providing them with the knowledge and necessary skills to help them to make better decisions and prevent re-offending.

The programme will address issues such as moral reasoning, interaction skills, self-management, self-esteem, victim empathy, patterns and consequences, values, beliefs and relapse prevention.

The development of the programme - which will be introduced by courts later this year - was headed by David Ellicott, a senior lecturer in youth justice and youth studies, in Nottingham Trent University's School of Social Sciences. It builds on an already well-established resource, The Jigsaw Programme, which was previously written by youth justice professionals and employed across a number of UK youth offending teams.

Mr Ellicott, who has more than 20 years' experience within criminal justice as a practitioner, probation officer and manager, said: "The programme will target those offenders who are at most risk of receiving a custodial sentence, and are believed to pose a threat of serious emotional or physical harm to either themselves or others.

"At the moment many court orders involve intensive surveillance and supervision such as tagging or curfews, whereas this is a cognitive programme which, while complementing that, will seek to promote a positive change in attitudes towards offending and behaviour. We believe this additional measure will significantly help to address the government's aim of reducing the number of young people in custody."

Suanne Lim, head of Derby Youth Offending Service, said: "The Acquisitive Crime Programme effectively targets some of the most prevalent aspects of youth crime in Derby city. It has already been requested as a programme requirement in many youth rehabilitation orders and we hope it goes from strength to strength."

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