A successful gang intervention programme that led to huge reductions in gang violence in Cincinnati, Boston and Glasgow is coming to England for the first time in Northamptonshire.
The Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) is a multi-agency project designed to reduce gang violence, not necessarily by locking gang members up, but by working with them to show them the consequences of the life they are choosing to lead and showing them an alternative pathway through mentoring, support, job opportunities and other change programs.
Anyone can refer into CIRV - whether that be someone who needs help themselves to get out of gang life or someone who is concerned about someone they know.
Chief Inspector Daryl Lyon, who leads the project, said: "CIRV has been hugely successful in Glasgow, Cincinnati and Boston and we are hoping to mirror that success here in Northamptonshire.
"The program is not an easy way out for anyone and it requires a significant level of commitment and hard work - those engaged must commit to leaving drugs and violence behind.
"Gang life might look glamorous and financially promising to a lot of people but the reality is far different.
"Is it really worth constantly looking over your shoulder, facing long lengths inside prison and wondering if today is the day you look down the barrel of a gun?
"Gang members are also often exploited by those higher up in the chain that get them to deal drugs and take all the risks.
"Some people feel like they’re in too deep to reach out to us but CIRV is designed to work with individuals to help them choose a better path than the one they are currently on.
"I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the success of this project benefit the people of Northamptonshire."
One of the key tools that CIRV uses to communicate the consequences of violent behaviour to those people involved in a gang is the ‘Self-Referral Session’ which is delivered to gang members in a courtroom.
It involves a number of people including police officers, doctors who treat serious injuries, ex-gang members and family members of gang members who have been killed.
The session is designed to show gang members the negative consequences of the life they are currently leading and encourage them to live one free of violence and drugs.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, and his team, supported by Northamptonshire Police, tendered a bid to the Home Office to the Serious Youth Violence Early Intervention Fund and were awarded £627,000 to support the program.
Mr Mold said: "We have to up our game in the way we deal with gang violence and I fully support the use of this approach, which has been so successful elsewhere.
"The threat that gang-related crime causes to every community is much too significant for us to simply do what we have always done.
"We have to find new ways to tackle gangs and to intervene early with people who are at risk of becoming involved or who are already involved, and do whatever we can to encourage and support them to change.
"This is a key area of work that we have to get right if we are to make sure that Northamptonshire is safer in the future."