A new scheme aimed at improving the lives of young offenders who have been taken into custody has already helped hundreds of people in just six months.

The custody navigator programme, run by the Cleveland Unit for the Reduction of Violence (CURV) through the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, has been hailed a great success after launching last year.

The scheme aims to help young offenders when they are feeling their most vulnerable, just after they get taken into custody.

Six months on from the launch they have now seen 604 young person offenders and 146 of those have also received follow-up calls.

They have received a range of positive responses from teenagers who have opened up to them while in custody.

One young man, aged 16, told them: "Thank you for all of this you know, I'd have proper lost my head if you weren't here.

"If only yas were in here a couple of months ago when I first came in, I wouldn't have been back. 

"You've proper helped me. What you are ya's are doing is proper going to help us young ens out you know.

"Thank you."

Another young offender, who will remain anonymous, said: "Never been arrested before and I didn't know what was happening, but I'm not as scared now I know what is happening.

"And I got to speak to you out of that horrible box."

One grandmother of a young 13-year-old girl in custody said: "I'm so pleased that X has agreed to work with you. 

"I'm stuck with what else to do and there's so much more going on."

Only five people have declined the custody navigators offer of support.

Here is a statistical breakdown of the past six months:

604 young person offences between August to Present.

  • 276 screened and Seen
  • 146 out of hours and received follow up calls
  • 182 re-Offences
  • 113 first time arrests 5 of those have re-offended.

The average young person is a white British male 16/17 year old.

Breakdown of knife and firearm offences:

  • 42 offences connected to possession of a knife/blade or offensive weapon
  • 3 firearms 1 discharged
  • Youngest knife carrier we have had is 14 year old
  • 3 carriers this was connected with being their first time arrest.
  • 5 young people have used the police disposal box of other knives they have had in their possession.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Steve Turner, emphasised the benefit of talking to young offenders about what is actually happening on the streets and the value that information has for the service.

He said: "We know we are doing what we set out to do. Word is spreading, I'm being told that people are getting brilliant referrals from the team.

"People are being really impressed with what they are seeing.

"It's produced some really useful information for us. We know we have a knife crime problem in Teesside. 

"They have seen 600 young people and only 42 have been involved in knife crime incidents.

"That shows that measures we are taking is having a positive impact.

"There's nothing more powerful than a young persons case study.

"We are fortunate in Cleveland because we only have one custody site. 

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"That means the custody officers can see as many as possible and we can concentrate our efforts.

"Going forward the team are already coming up with ideas of projects we can get these young people involved in which will work for them.

"We want to work with them and not just lock them up and throw away the key."