Fifteen secondary school students have been “sworn in” as detectives and will be taking part in an innovative project designed to help young people make the right decisions in the future and equip them to recognise the signs of criminal exploitation.
The Serious Organised Crime Insight Programme, which is taking place throughout this week, has been developed as part of an educational initiative jointly funded by Merseyside Police and Everton in the Community (EitC), the official charity of Everton Football Club.
This is the second time that the Insight Programme has been carried out and it involves students from Years 9, 10 and 11 from schools in communities where young people are vulnerable to criminal exploitation and will kick-start a series of early intervention programmes across Merseyside, delivered by the charitable arm of Everton Football Club, EitC.
The programme has been designed to raise awareness of criminal exploitation and demonstrates how young people can be manipulated and exploited by those causing misery in some of our poorest communities through criminality and violence.
It comes just a day after Merseyside Police launched Operation Target to tackle serious and violent crime, funded with £4.2m from the Home Office’s £100m Serious Violence Fund.The young people have been given their own fictional criminal case (put together by experienced detectives) to investigate. And during the week they will investigate the stabbing of a 14-year-old boy.
The trainee detectives will learn the principle standards of investigation and the importance of working together as a team. They will have opportunities to interview the victim, his mother and friends at the force’s training centre and will also visit Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where they will see the specialist Rainbow Suite where medical professionals provide care for victims of trauma, such as knife crime. Nurse Clinician Rob Jackson from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital will talk about knife crime injuries he has seen and operated on during his career and the life changing impact those injuries can have.
They will also visit Liverpool Crown Court where they will be given a tour of the courts and introduced to His Honour Judge Neil Flewitt who will give them an introduction to the Criminal Justice System and talk them through court procedures.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Reardon, said: “Working together with Everton in the Community we have developed the programme to give an insight into how calculating criminals will use and exploit the vulnerabilities of our young people for their own gain. It also demonstrates the impact of criminality and violence on victim’s families and friends, as well as the local community and health professionals.
"In January we ran the programme for the first time and the young people involved really threw themselves into the investigation and came to appreciate and understand the work that goes into an investigation, as well as that wider understanding of criminal exploitation and the consequences of serious violent crime on our communities.
"I hope that the students on this course find it as valuable and that it will help them to better understand the impact of crime on families and communities and the dangers and consequences of serious violent crime on our streets.
"Throughout their journey this week they will see for themselves how the wrong decisions can have a major impact not only on the life of a victim, or offender, but also on their families, close friends and the local community. They will also learn about criminal exploitation and how calculating criminals can target and manipulate young people and entice them into a life of crime and violence. One of the students on the course in January was so impressed by the presentation given to them on county lines and criminal exploitation that she asked the teachers at her school if it could be presented there so other young people could hear the powerful, educational messages.
“The aim of this week is to equip our young people with the ability to make the right lifestyle choices, which keep them, their families, and their local community safe. Our ultimate aim is to show young people there are other choices they can make that are within the law and without the dangers that come through becoming involved with organised crime groups.”
Sue Gregory, Director of Youth Engagement for Everton in the Community, said: “It has been fantastic to again be able to offer this trainee detective programme to local young people – it provides young adults with a real insight into serious community issues which exist within our city and opens their eyes to bigger problems such as serious organised crime, gangs and young people being exploited.
“We had such positive feedback from the youngsters who were involved in the first programme in January and we are looking forward to continuing our strong relationship with Merseyside Police with this current cohort as we further our early intervention programmes to support and protect those at risk.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "This scheme was a great success when it ran earlier in the year and I’m delighted that Merseyside Police and Everton in the Community are repeating it, helping more young people to get an insight into the dangers of serious and organised crime and gangs.
“I hope this course will help to open the eyes of our new trainee-detectives and ensure they know how to keep themselves and their friends safe. Schemes like this are building a brighter future for our young people.”