By Inspector Jack Rowlands
When the Criminal Justice Alliance awarded DIVERT Outstanding Organisation in 2017 we were both surprised and proud that our work was recognised as a programme that works. But the best part about being shortlisted was the awards evening – it’s always a real pleasure to meet so many new people working within criminal justice who are finding new ways of helping people change direction.
DIVERT is a Metropolitan Police service diversion programme based in Brixton, Bethnal Green and now Stoke Newington. Our mission is to speak with 18-25 year olds while they are still in police custody with the aim of finding them employment, education and training. We work with the New Era Foundation who have trained custody intervention coaches at each custody suite. Using a teachable moment we speak with them and listen to what they want to aspire to. Using sustained and effective support we then refer young adults to respective organisations and employers.
Ultimately DIVERT’s goal is to prevent reoffending and reduce crime. The programme runs separately to the criminal justice system, which allows us to deal with young adults on a bespoke, case-by-case basis and tailor our work to ensure that young people receive the most effective support. So far we have worked with over two hundred young adults and helped nearly one hundred people into employment. Our overall reoffending rate is just 8 per cent.
As well as being named outstanding organisation, DIVERT was also awarded £4000. We felt it was important for that money to be donated to a local organisation that supports DIVERT. Juvenis has worked closely with DIVERT since our inception. Based in Brixton they work tirelessly with young people offering them bespoke support and training to change the direction of their lives. Since 2017 we have worked even closer together and will continue to build that partnership.
Since winning the award we have been busy expanding the programme to Stoke Newington custody in Hackney and we are getting ready to expand further in Wood Green, Lewisham, Wandsworth and Croydon. We are particularly pleased that the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy recently recognised DIVERT’s programme as an example of best practice.
We hope we are beginning to have a positive influence in changing peoples’ opinions about police custody and we want to thank the Criminal Justice Alliance for their support in making that happen.
If you are aware of a person or a programme that is making a difference and innovating to make criminal justice fairer and more effective, then please consider nominating them for the upcoming CJA Awards 2018.