Home Office funding of up to almost £500k could help to tackle Northampton’s growing gang culture.
Northampton Borough Council and non-profit organisation Free2Talk were one of 11 areas out of 118 to be successful in securing funding from the Government this summer.
The Home Office’s £13m scheme helps local councils work with community organisations to build trusted and protective relationships with young people affected by sexual exploitation, gangs, child criminal exploitation and trafficking.
Borough council papers say that Northampton has witnessed ‘a significant increase in issues that have arisen around gangs, gang culture, child sexual exploitation and organised crime groups’.
It adds that there has been an increase, both nationally and in the town, in the number of young people being groomed for criminal and sexual exploitation.
But now the council has won funding of £354,706 - with the potential of additional funding for a further two years at £470,936 - to spend on ‘innovative’ programmes offering support and solutions to vulnerable young people.
The council adds: “The funding will enable Northampton Borough Council and Free2Talk to deliver interventions and mentoring services to young people most at risk of getting involved in gangs and violent crime.
“It will provide a support service to young people, encouraging them to take a more positive path, contributing to a reduction in exploitation and abuse, missing episodes and interactions with the youth justice system.
“Young people from vulnerable communities will also be given the opportunity to input into the support programme, as their help will be sought to develop informal education programmes in youth centres.”
On Wednesday (September 12) the council’s cabinet agreed to accept the funding and enter into a grant agreement with Free2Talk.
This, the council says, will enable ‘intensive work to be carried out with the young people who are currently falling through the gaps until they come back to prominence either as a victim or by entering the criminal justice system’.