Published 8 January 2020

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A 15-year-old Kent boy with previous convictions for drugs and weapons offences is beginning to turn his life around thanks to help from the St Giles Trust.

The St Giles Trust charity receives money from the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott to work with young people in custody and divert them away from crime and exploitation. Since the Police Custody Liaison Scheme began in October, St Giles Trust caseworkers have been helping more than 70 young people.

'Chris' (not his real name) is one such young person. He was frequently going missing from home - sometimes for weeks at a time. When he was arrested by Kent Police in September for attempted robbery it was the fourth time he had found himself in police custody in just eight weeks.

Ebony Pinnock from the St Giles Trust said:

‘Relations had broken down between Chris and his mum. He was being moved regularly between the care of various family members, who could not tolerate his aggressive behaviour.

‘He would often go missing, and had been out of education for more than two years. Thankfully Kent Police referred him to us and Chris agreed to weekly mentoring sessions where he expressed feelings of rejection and isolation. It was clear that his home life and poor family relationships were a key factor in him going missing and committing crime.

‘We worked with Chris and his family to identify boundaries. We supported them to implement and maintain those boundaries. Their relationship has improved and, importantly, there have been no further missing episodes.

‘Instead, Chris has been supported to take up sport to improve his health and wellbeing. He is thinking positively about the future and is looking at a career in construction.’

Funding for the Police Custody Liaison Scheme has come from the Early Intervention Youth Fund. Mr Scott was successful in bidding for £527,573 from the Home Office back in June. Typically, a St Giles Trust caseworker will help a young person back into education or to find work, build self-esteem, or develop better relationships with family or professionals.

Mr Scott said:

‘It is right and proper that offenders are arrested and dealt with by the criminal justice system. Victims expect to see justice delivered. At the same time, we must recognise that people, especially vulnerable young people, can become embroiled in a cycle of re-offending if the causes of their offending are not addressed.

‘By better supporting young people when they come into contact with the police we can strive to break that cycle and so prevent other people from being victims of further crimes in future. I am delighted to hear that Chris, and dozens of others like him, are doing well and that the St Giles Trust project is having a positive impact on their lives.’