The success of a pilot project aimed at addressing the fear of crime in so-called ‘hotspot areas’ has been firmly signposted by Mid and East Antrim Council.
The Detached Youth Work project also addresses the associated issues of anti-social behaviour.
“We want everyone to enjoy a warm welcome within the Borough, both our many visitors and our own residents alike,” said Councillor Andrew Wilson, Chair of Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP).
“The ongoing three-month pilot Detached Youth Work project came about after we first listened to concerns raised locally to PCSP members. We responded by appointing the Bytes Project to run this innovative scheme, through Priority Youth Interventions with funding through the Department of Justice,” he said.
Speaking before a meeting of stakeholders to mark the half-way point in the project, he said they had been providing a regular and consistent programme of what’s called ‘Detached Youth’ work in the Mid and East Antrim area.
“We have been targeting high risk young people identified through both the PCSP Manager and PCSP Steering Group, as well as referrals from community stakeholders and engagement with providers.
Hopefully, we are able to develop transformational relationships with those young people with the purpose of ‘signposting’ them into developmental group work programmes.
“This began in September, using key hub locations and in local communities and facilities in housing estates,” said Cr Wilson.
The youth provision occurs at key times when tensions rise in high crime wards, at weekends and at key times of the day, such as 7pm to 11pm, and especially during the school holidays.
The project complements youth provision already in place in both statutory and community provision and therefore signposts young people back into these services.
Where possible the PSNI is involved in activities to encourage the development of relationships with young people and the building of respect and citizenship values. It also ties in closely with Council’s own Community Safety Wardens to offer what is described as a ‘well rounded’ engagement with those high risk young people.
PSNI Mid and East Antrim District Commander, Superintendent Ryan Henderson said: “Hard to reach and at risk young people usually do not avail of mainstream youth provision across the three areas, primarily Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne.
“The Detached Youth Work programme is fully supported by our own Local Policing Teams.”