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‘We must have options other than enforcement’: Hornsey cop on Met youth crime project in Haringey

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:55 13 November 2020

Detective Chief Inspector Joe Derilo outside Hornsey Police Station. Picture: Polly Hancock

Detective Chief Inspector Joe Derilo outside Hornsey Police Station. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Haringey police are piloting a project aimed at supporting young offenders by placing youth workers at the centre of their community reintegration.

Police say the new scheme will divert young people away from crime and towards community programmes. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PAPolice say the new scheme will divert young people away from crime and towards community programmes. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA

Haringey police are piloting a project aimed at supporting young offenders by placing youth workers at the centre of their community reintegration.

Operation Alliance is assigning youth workers to people aged 10 to 18 to prevent reoffending by offering them one-to-one support that culminates in an educational, vocational, mentoring or sports programme.

The youth workers, assigned from the point of arrest, will get to know the young person and be tasked with identifying any sign of exploitation or grooming.

Detective Chief Inspector Joe Derilo, who grew up in Hornsey, told the Ham&High the project, which began in October, is moving away from retribution and towards intervention.

“We get children who are very young – 10, 11, 12 years old – and in those times it seems that nothing is there to help them,” the detective said.

“We just need to keep on giving these children an opportunity.” Picture: Polly Hancock“We just need to keep on giving these children an opportunity.” Picture: Polly Hancock

“It’s going to be bad for them to be in custody, to be in Met detention, and to find that they may be there again and again.

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“What we’re hoping to do is stop that cycle of reoffending, of being arrested, and give them the opportunity to say: ‘Right,‘I’m going to do an engineering course, a mentoring course, or work with a charity.’

“We just need to keep on giving these children an opportunity.”

The initiative has been formed through a partnership between the Met, the charities Oasis Hadley and the Children’s Society, and local authorities in Haringey and Enfield.

Four youth outreach workers will be stationed at Wood Green custody suite until March 2021 – when the scheme will be reviewed.

Det Ch Insp. Derilo said: “Exploitation and grooming is rising and we must have another option other than enforcement.

“As a police officer that grew up around this area, we need to start making people feel that they’re part of the community and that they can give something back.”

Cllr Mark Blake, Haringey Council’s communities chief, said it was “critical” to provide a joined-up approach.

He said the Met scheme would divert “vulnerable youngsters” from a “lifestyle” of crime to “positive activities”.

If you are worried that a family member or friend is involved in criminality, or might be being exploited or groomed by others, help and advice is available via Knife Free and NSPCC.


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