The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley has officially launched a gang awareness training programme for professionals across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
The programme aims to raise awareness, upskill and increase confidence of front line professionals working with young people who are being, or are at risk of being, exploited into gangs.
The training is being delivered by Reach Every Generation, an organisation working to transform the lives of young people caught up in gang culture, and forms part of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Early Intervention Youth Fund project.
The training sessions encourage front line workers to see beyond what they are presented with, to challenge their levels of professional curiosity to identify risk, manage trauma and safeguard young people.
A key element of the training is personal testimony from ex-gang members who draw on their own experiences, sharing specialist knowledge and focussing on practical elements of supporting vulnerable young people.
26 training sessions will be delivered across the Thames Valley until November 2019. Attendees of the training include social workers, youth workers, teachers and police officers.
Anthony Stansfeld Police and Crime Commissioner said “The main aim of this training is to help protect young people from a life of violence, exploitation and criminality.
“To do this we need to give front line workers the awareness to be able to recognise issues being faced by young people who are at risk of exploitation into gangs and provide them with the practical skills to help safeguard them. I hope that’s what this training will achieve.
“I believe that tackling youth violence as a whole can only be done through a partnership approach. We are pleased to be working with statutory and community organisations on the delivery of this programme and of the wider Early Intervention Youth Fund project which we will continue to implement over the coming months.”
Gavin McKenna, Director of Reach Every Generation said “This is a great opportunity for all those booked onto this training and shows the forward thinking of the Office of the PCC in Thames Valley and their desire to equip frontline staff.
“The issue of serious youth violence, criminal exploitation and county lines is not a new phenomenon, however it is devastating our communities in and out of London and other major cities.
“As society seek answers to the problem, we aim to equip those on the frontline with the knowledge and insight into what works. We all know the problem we just need to go on Twitter or watch the news; what we want to do is look not at the problems, but the solutions.
“We are honoured to be part of this work and want to thank the PCC for the opportunity to offer our services across Thames Valley.”
Other activity being delivered as part of the Early Intervention Youth Fund project includes; a ‘County Lines’ play touring secondary schools, workshops for young people on gangs and knife crime, youth work to tackle school exclusions, detached youth work in the community and intensive interventions with those already involved in criminality or exploitation.
Further information about the Early Intervention Youth Fund can be found on the OPCC website - https://www.thamesvalley-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/early-intervention-youth-fund/.