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News from Siân Berry: Mayor should ensure more young people in custody get a second chance

03 July 2018

Young people are being offered a lifeline to avoid a life of crime – but only in two police stations. Sian Berry is calling on the Mayor to permanently fund the expansion of the successful Divert scheme.

Inspector Jack Rowlands, who founded Divert to help stop young people aged 18-25 ending up in prison, responded to Assembly Member Sian Berry following recent questions in the police and crime committee, to explain the programme’s success and how much it would cost to roll out.[1]

In the first few hours of being in custody young people in Brixton and Tower Hamlets police stations are visited by Custody Intervention Coaches from Divert who speak to them whilst still in police custody with the aim of getting them into employment, education, and training.

Divert has worked with 192 people in two police stations, helped 81 young people secure jobs or training and reduced the reoffending rate to 8%.[2]

Sian Berry says:


Young people in London have had a raw deal as services have been stripped back and youth workers have lost their jobs.   
We need frontline workers who are placed to intervene at key moments to help steer people away from getting mixed up in criminal activity. 

This scheme doesn’t cost much to run, it has been successful in the two stations who have it so far and I want to see the Mayor ensure it has enough money to keep going. 

We know interventions like this do work and they really help young people who are on the fringes of being dragged into a life they don’t want.


At the moment Divert is funded by the Milestone Foundation, who rely on grants and donations, and plan to pilot the scheme in four more stations from July.[3]
Divert is a programme thought up and run by police officers. The budget for the two schemes in Brixton and Tower Hamlets is £140k per year. The six sites plan has a budget of £620k per year but requires ‘sustained funding’ to keep it going indefinitely. A London-wide roll out of this programme will cost £1.2million a year. [4]

All the scheme needs to operate is a modern police custody suite that has sufficient resources for consultation meetings. All custody suites in London have this.

Notes to editors

Sian is available for interview.

[1] Information from the written response from Inspector Jack Rowlands, Divert Programme, to questions raised by Sian Berry following the Police and Crime Committee meeting on 24 May 2018
[2] Divert has been at Brixton & Bethnal Green since 2015. We’ve worked with 192 people. 80 have found employment and have an overall reoffending rate of 8%

[3] Sian Berry question to the Mayor 2017/4356
The Metropolitan Police Service Divert scheme connects young people in police custody to employment, education, and training services that help young people find positive alternatives upon release. How will you ensure that programmes like this continue to be funded and expanded across London?
Sian Berry question to the Mayor 2018/0130
Thank you for your response to my question 2017/4357. What resources from MOPAC or the Metropolitan Police Service are currently used for the DIVERT programme? Do you have plans to increase the resources given to this programme?
[4] Tackling the Rise of Violent Crime in London - Police and Crime Committee transcript, 24 May 2018

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