Cleveland Police’s plans to tackle youth violence have been examined by Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner in his latest scrutiny session.
Mr Turner met with Cleveland’s senior policing leaders on Wednesday (15 December) as part of his monthly scrutiny meetings with the force.
The theme of the meeting was youth violence – which also forms the subject of an upcoming thematic inspection of Cleveland Police by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
PCC Steve Turner said: “Although we must take into account changing crime recording methods and the impact of Covid-19, it is still worrying that youth serious violence in Cleveland is on the rise.
“Crimes involving young people have an additional level of complexity, as officers need to balance the vulnerabilities of the young person with the harm they have caused through their offending.
“As the force will soon be independently inspected on youth violence, I felt it was timely for me to look at how the force prevent or address these crimes.”
To support scrutiny of the force, staff in the PCC’s office conducted a substantial dip-sample exercise, reviewing 134 individual serious violence offences which occurred over a twelve-month period.
A shortlist of 16 cases were presented to the police, requesting more information on victim support, referrals to specialist agencies, contact made with parents or carers and information on police decision-making.
Assurances were sought from Cleveland Police on cases where suspects were identified, yet the victim withdrew support for further action.
The Commissioner’s staff will be having follow-up meetings with the force to understand the context around these specific cases, recognising the need to identify vulnerability affecting both victims and suspects.
Mr Turner added: “From the information presented at the meeting, I’m confident that Cleveland Police has a good understanding of the challenges the area faces with youth serious violence.
“Senior officers provided details of the plans and strategies they have in place to deal with the issue. I’ll be monitoring levels of youth violence moving forward to ensure these plans are effective in driving levels down.
“Whilst it is my role to scrutinise improvements driven by the Acting Chief Constable, it is for the Inspectorate to thoroughly assess how well the force is tackling violence involving young people. I await the outcome of their thematic inspection in 2022.”
The Commissioner’s Office funds a variety of schemes designed to deter and prevent young people becoming involved in violent crime.
This involves an annual investment of £148,000 in youth outreach services, plus commissioning of local youth offending teams and of the award-winning Divert scheme – which gives first-time offenders a second chance to turn away from crime.