New project helping to steer Norfolk youngsters away from life of crime
PUBLISHED: 12:48 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:48 27 February 2020
Young people at risk of being dragged into a life of crime and drugs through exploitation are benefitting from a pilot project which is trying to show youngsters that there to live their lives.
The Pathways Out Programme is one of a number of projects being delivered by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN), in partnership with organisations across the county, to tackle serious violence and, in particular, the threat and harm caused by County Lines drug activity.
The 12-month pilot, co-designed by the OPCCN and Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), guided by experts including Norfolk's Youth Offending Team, is delivering 1-2-1 mentoring support to young people identified as being vulnerable to grooming and exploitation by County Lines gangs.
Since it launched in April last year, 46 young people aged 17 and under have been referred to the project, which receives its referrals from schools in Norwich and Great Yarmouth - two areas of Norfolk where MAP's youth work shows intervention with young people around County Lines is needed.
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Lorne Green, Norfolk's PCC, said: "Prevention is key to keeping our county safe, protecting our young people from criminal exploitation and stopping them getting involved in County Lines.
"County Lines and the serious violence that goes hand-in-hand with it are not exclusively policing issues; they will not be solved by enforcement action alone.
"Projects like Pathways Out are pulling together the skills, knowledge and experience of experts across our county to not only identify and safeguard our young people, but also show them that their life story is still being written, that they have options and that their future can be so much brighter."
Mentors work with the young people to build their confidence and help them learn new skills by engaging in activities they enjoy thereby supporting young people to become more resilient to exploitation.
Home Office funding for Pathways Out is due to cease at the end of March but MAP will continue to provide similar mentoring for young people across Norfolk.