A project to try to stop the proliferation of gangs in Northamptonshire has received 450 referrals in its first six months in operation.
Gangs intervention scheme CIRV (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence) works with different agencies across the county to try to intervene in the cases of young people who are either on the periphery of gang involvement or already immersed in gang-related criminality.
More than 60 per cent of these referrals have been for people under 18 years of age.
The news comes after the Northants Telegraph revealed the extent of county lines gangs in Northamptonshire.
Inspector Daryl Lyon, who is the force lead for the delivery of the scheme, said: “I’m really proud of what the CIRV team has achieved in the six months since it was launched in the county. The number of referrals is astounding and I am confident the success of the project will continue to grow.
“I’m delighted too that this county has been referenced as delivering national best practice in violence prevention and we have had visits from three other UK forces looking to replicate what we do here in their force areas.”
Anton Noble, who is an ex-gang member now specialising in gang culture and serious youth violence and who works as a mentor for young people engaged with CIRV, said: “We’re getting a lot of interaction and engagement with gangs and we are supporting a number of young people who were previously heavily involved with gang culture.
“Our message is that you are never in too deep – there is always a way out and we’re here to help you take the first steps.
“We’ve had great support from many groups across the county – CIRV is touching people profoundly and is already making a huge, positive impact on many families and communities across Northamptonshire.”
Rory Geoghegan, the Head of Criminal Justice, visited Northamptonshire to assess CIRV and gather evidence on the effective adoption and early implementation of the model, based on the learnings from cities as diverse as Boston, Glasgow, and Cincinnati. He said: “I was impressed with the simple and straightforward referral process, accompanied with effective triage and assessment.
“This, combined with the genuine offer of a range of credible services and channels aimed at helping young people move away from gang or group violence and related offending, was impressive.
“Within such a short space of time it speaks of successful awareness raising and partnership work across Northamptonshire.
“I saw evidence of the credible offer of services to facilitate exit from gangs and positive life changes and we are very optimistic for the prospects of CIRV in Northamptonshire as it continues to develop, with key features including an emphasis on education, training, employment, aspiration building and family engagement and support.”
Doctor William Graham is a lecturer in criminology at Abertay University in Dundee and was the deputy of CIRV, Glasgow. He has been closely involved in getting the scheme up and running in Northamptonshire and said today: “I am really impressed by the progress that has already been made and the number of people engaging with the scheme who were previously involved in gangs.
“This bears testimony to the hard work and the commitment of all the teams involved and I am confident the scheme is already making a positive difference in Northamptonshire and that it will save lives.
“Importantly, CIRV is about a long-term approach – there are no short measures. I am looking forward to seeing the scheme grow and thrive in the months ahead.”