Working together for their brighter future

Tackling youth offenders by addressing the root cause of their criminal behaviour is key to their rehabilitation.


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Wandsworth police work with the borough’s Youth Offending Team (YOTS) to educate and rehabilitate young people who have received a court order to undertake community service.

This extends to youths on the periphery of crime, who benefit from taking part in community projects and structured group work on the effects of crime and antisocial behaviour.

Paul Howard, a youth worker, said: “It is about teaching them respect, not just for other people but having enough respect for themselves to do something with their lives.”

Recent efforts include the clearing up of St George’s Hospital garden and car park, where overgrown bushes and trees had reduced visibility for visitors, staff and security patrols. Cutting the undergrowth back makes it harder for robbers to elude CCTV and security patrols.

Paul Howard added: “Their acts of reparation have to benefit the community and hopefully show them the benefits of helping society. Our bike scheme has generated interest from all over the country.

The police give us bikes, which have been seized, and our young people are taught how to strip them down and make them safe and roadworthy. When the owners of the bicycles are reunited with their stolen property, the youngsters can see what it means to do a good deed for another person.”

Their Early Intervention Team deals with young people who are drifting into a criminal behaviour. The launch of their knife crime workshops has exposed the impact of knife crime on society and its victims. A paramedic attends the sessions and explains the damage a blade can reap on the human body.

They take their young people to Coldingley Prison to see what it is like to live in captivity. The older prisoners explain how they ended up in prison and why you do not want to get trapped in the criminal lifestyle and end up spending years of your life behind bars.

Sergeant Bruce Gill, who works on the borough’s Prolific and Priority Offenders unit, commended the Youth Offending Team:

“Their early interventions wake a lot of kids up to the reality of street crime and give them the direction or help they need to avoid becoming the prolific offenders of tomorrow.

“They have the time and skills to interact with young people who, for various reasons, are involved in criminal or antisocial behaviour. The reparation group work not only benefits the community but also gives them a sense of achievement.”

January 30, 2007