Edinburgh To Benefit From Ground-breaking Serious Organised Crime Project Thanks To National Lottery

Edinburgh To Benefit From Ground-breaking Serious Organised Crime Project Thanks To National Lottery

Wednesday 1st Apr 2020

A project which is the only one of its kind in the country diverting young people away from a life in serious organised crime is coming to Edinburgh.

A project which is the only one of its kind in the country diverting young people away from a life in serious organised crime is coming to Edinburgh.

The Capital is aprt of a UK-wide roll-out of the 'Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service’ thanks to National Lottery players.

Action for Children has received £4.6 million in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest funder of community activity in the UK - to expand the service, which has operated in Glasgow since 2013. The roll-out will initially see Action for Children deliver the project in Edinburgh from January, with Cardiff and Newcastle from April.

An annual study into the project’s effectiveness showed out of the most recent group of 49 young people, just four continued to offend after engaging with the project. A previous study also 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 “high risk” by the children’s panel. In 2017/18, analysis into the project showed that by diverting four ‘high risk’ young people from secure care, the project represented a saving of over half a million pounds for Glasgow City Council over a six-month period alone. (see Notes to Editors).

The charity as well as partners and funders believe that crucial to the project’s success is the role of Peer Mentors. Action for Children have employed almost 100 former service users it has previously supported, with many of these acting as Peer Mentors within projects, providing accessible role models to young people the charity currently works with.

To date, the project has worked with around 100 young people and has operated since 2013, when Paul Carberry, the charity’s Director for Scotland, was invited to join the Scottish Government’s ‘Serious Organised Crime Task force’, where he chairs the ‘Divert’ strand. The ‘Divert’ workstream has the objective of diverting young people from becoming involved in Serious Organised Crime and using its products.

City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said: “The success Action for Children have achieved with this project can’t be under estimated. It’s a real game-changer for those young people directly affected intervening early to help young people at risk of getting involved in serious organised crime and the devastating effects this can have on them, their families and local communities. I’m delighted that Edinburgh has been chosen as the next city to benefit from the service. I’m convinced it will have a really positive impact on turning some of our most vulnerable young people’s lives around. The Council has worked hard with police, schools and other partners to support people out of the criminal justice process and this will significantly build on our efforts.”

Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director for Scotland and chair of the ‘Divert’ strand of the Serious Organised Crime Task Force, said: “We are very proud to be rolling out our successful Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service. 

“There are many young people in our communities who are caught up in organised crime. We are not talking about gangs or group of kids hanging about the streets fighting with each other, we are talking about organised crime, serious activity which has a real devastating effect on our communities, particularly the most vulnerable communities. We recognise the need to give young people alternatives, we need to get them into employment and get them the right support and help.

“We believe that the best way to do this is by example and giving young people role models who have been on the journey themselves and those ‘Peer Mentors’ are our most powerful tool. Since 2013, our ‘Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service’ has worked intensively with more than 70 young people across Glasgow, diverting them away from a life in serious organised crime and into positive opportunities including education, training and employment. The role of Peer Mentors has been key to that.

“Working in partnership Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, we are all very proud to have delivered a real Scottish success story. Scotland really is leading the way when it comes to dealing with serious organised crime. Now, thanks to funding from The National Lottery, we are able to deliver this work across the UK.”

Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice who chairs the SOCT, said: “Action for Children is a key member of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce and its early intervention service plays an important role in helping secure the outcomes set out under the ‘Divert’ strand of Scotland’s SOC Strategy.

“By working with young people on the cusp of organised crime we can offer them an alternative to being drawn into a grim future of violent criminality by unscrupulous criminals who seek to exploit them and treat them as an expendable commodity in a bid to evade the law themselves. The role of the peer mentors cannot be underestimated and by working with the young people and their families, the service has shown the positive opportunities that are available to the young people that can allow them to prosper.

“Organised crime knows no borders, and nor should good ideas.  The roll out of the service to other parts of the UK with support from the National Lottery is tremendous and deserved recognition of the success that Action for Children has achieved to date. Not only is the service helping to divert young people away from serious organised crime, but it can deliver financial savings to hard-pressed public services to the benefit of all our communities.”

Stella Everingham, National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Committee Member and UK Funding Committee member, added: "This is life-changing National Lottery money reaching into communities and putting young people at the heart of decisions that could affect the rest of their lives. As the National Lottery prepares to celebrate its 25th birthday next month, the Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service is a great example of one of its many success stories. I am delighted that Action for Children and its partners will now be able to roll this service out UK wide so that many more young people can thrive." 

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "Serious organised crime has a significant impact on the lives of children and young people, and is a blight on our communities across Scotland and the UK. 

"The funding from the National Lottery Community Fund is welcome and will allow all the partners involved to continue the extremely important work of diverting young people from becoming involved in any form of criminality. The Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service is integral to this."

Case study; Kieran* is 19 and has been supported by Action for Children’s Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service. Life is a lot more settled for him now, he lives with his girlfriend and has a full-time job in a kitchen. But life was very different growing up.

He grew up in an estate rife with drugs and drug dealing. It was almost natural that Kieran fell into this way of life. "When you live where I did, you didn’t really have a choice,” he said. “Up and down the stairs in the flats I stayed in there were people injecting into their arms. I saw that from the age of five.”

Not long out of primary school, he came to the attention of organised crime groups in the area and given drugs to sell: “I was about 11 and selling drugs and being paid in cigarettes. But very soon we had the chance to make money from it,” he said. “It started with cannabis then moved to Valium and harder stuff like heroin. 

As he grew older, the nature of the crimes became more serious. “I was involved with gangs, battering people, stealing cars to order, selling drugs, it was all about making money,” he said. “As I got older, if people didn’t pay us, we were sent to their door. It was out of control, really. But that’s what we were told to do and if we wanted money, we did it.”

Eventually, as the crimes got more serious, and more violent, the police became involved and it was then he realised he needed to make a break away from that life. “Really, I’ve seen it all. When I was about 14, one of my friends had his face slashed as we battled with another gang. It shakes you up, but it was a gang fight, that’s what happens, it was all to do with drugs and money,” he said. “I got caught by the police eventually. I didn’t get done for it, but it put the fear into me, so I started to pull away from that life.”

Soon after, he was referred to the Action for Children project and hasn’t looked back. He has since moved away from the area where he grew up, and the organised crime groups who controlled the area. “I couldn’t go back there - the same people are still in control of that estate,” he says. “It probably would have been a lot easier to stay where I was and making the money I was, but it was made through violence and drugs. That’s my old life and I’m glad it’s not the life I have now. It’s not the future I want for my family.”

*name changed to protect his identity.

Additional information:

1) Calculation is based on report in 2017/18: Cost of secure estimated at £5,000 per week (£5000 x 26 weeks (six months) is £130,000 per person. The Action for Children service has worked with young people this accounting period at an approximate cost of £3,125 per young person per annum. The cost for six months service is therefore £1,562.50 per young person. The cost of six months service for four young people likely to have been otherwise incarcerated is therefore £6,250. Subtracted from the cost of six months secure care for four young people at £520,000 this equals a cost saving of £513,750.

About Action for Children

Action for Children Scotland works with more than 20,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year. With 87 services across Scotland, we are in communities where you live and work. We help transform the lives of thousands of children and young people each year and we’ve been doing so for 60 years. For more information, visit actionforchildren.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @Actn4ChildrScot.

About the Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention project

The service has supported young people in Glasgow since 2013. It supports vulnerable young people on the cusp of, or at risk of, involvement in Serious Organised Crime. It provides targeted support to those aged 11 to 18 through intensive 1:1 support, risk reduction, group work, peer mentoring, diversionary activities and positive opportunities including education, training and employment. In 2018, funding was secured to expand the project’s offering in Glasgow through the addition of a family support element. It works in partnership with Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership (HCSCP), Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.

About the National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.   

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.