£1m Boost For Criminal Gang Project

17 May 2018, 08:39 | Updated: 17 May 2018, 08:42

Hoodies on streets Help a Capital Child

A project which aims to divert young people from a life of involvement in serious organised crime has been handed a £1 million funding boost.

Action for Children's Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention Service works with 12 to 18-year-olds in Glasgow.

A recent review found 71% of young people who have used the service were kept out of secure care for at least six months during involvement with the programme - including a number deemed at "high risk" of entering secure care by the children's panel.

Two-thirds of young people involved in the project, delivered in partnership with Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council, have made demonstrable improvements in their offending behaviour, Action for Children said.

The project, said to be the only one of its kind in the UK, has been handed just under £1 million over the next three years, with funding from the Big Lottery Fund matched by Glasgow City Council.

Paul Carberry, the charity's current Director for Scotland, said: "Today's funding announcement for our Serious Organised Crime Intervention Service is a very important step in the continued efforts in Scotland to tackle serious organised crime.

"In my work at Action for Children Scotland, I see the impact of serious organised crime - families destroyed by substance abuse, parents indebted to loan sharks and housing schemes controlled by career criminals.

"It is largely hidden from mainstream society while having a disproportionately high effect on the most disadvantaged, marginalised communities in our country.

"In Glasgow, this service is turning lives around and having a long-term impact on communities across the city.

"We can all be very proud of this Scottish success story and everyone at Action for Children will work hard to maintain this success going forward."

Analysis also showed the project has saved more than £500,000 for the city council over the past financial year by diverting "high risk" young people from secure care.

Kevin, 15, from the north of Glasgow, said: "This project has made such a big difference to my life. Before I wouldn't think twice about my actions and I'd keep on getting in trouble and up in front of children's panels.

"But the guys at the project have been great, they've made me realise there's a different way. I don't want to offend I just didn't know there was another way but Action for Children have really helped me find it.

"I now think twice about my actions as I'm tired of getting into trouble. I want to find a job or go to college, not just kick about with the people that kept getting me into bother."

The project has operated in Glasgow since 2012 and has worked with around 50 young people so far.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "This is a valuable project that is making a real difference to the lives of young people by diverting them from involvement in a range of criminal activity that could have a seriously detrimental effect on the rest of their lives."