The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recommitted to driving down violence in London as a key priority during his second term by being both tough on crime and tough on the causes of
crime. In a visit to a Lewisham police station today with the Met Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, the Mayor highlighted his concerns about a potential increase in violence this summer as lockdown measures continue to be eased. To help prevent this, Sadiq is supporting the Met’s efforts to supress violent activity at a local level and focusing on prevention programmes that divert Londoners away from violence.
As part of these efforts the Mayor has announced today that £900,000 of City Hall funding will be invested in a successful police custody programme that supports young adults to stay away from violence.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, the Met’s DIVERT programme has already helped custody intervention coaches work with more than 1,000 Londoners aged between 18 and 25 who had been arrested and taken to custody suites in Brixton, Bethnal Green, Lewisham, Croydon, Wood Green and Hackney.
As part of the programme, specially trained custody intervention coaches - who are not police officers – meet young people following their arrest at what is known as a ‘teachable moment’. They work to offer long-term support and guidance and develop plans that can lead to training, education and employment opportunities.
The programme has helped 1,169 people – of which nearly 800 have either entered into employment, education or training. Others continue to be assisted with specific packages of support, including those on remand or in prison, to ensure they have the best chance to turn their back on violence.
As a result of the success of DIVERT, the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit – which Sadiq set up in 2018 to lead a public health approach to tackling violence in the capital – has increased its investment to deliver the programme across all 12 Basic Command Units (BCU) in the Met Police to boost the number of custody intervention coaches. It means there will be greater capacity to help more young adults with coaches delivering the DIVERT programme at Wembley, Leyton, Wandsworth, Freshwharf, Hammersmith & Fulham and Holborn police stations.
The programme is led by the Met, Bounce Back and the New Era Foundation. DIVERT sits outside the criminal justice process, conversations are confidential, and coaches are independent of the police investigation.
During the visit to a Lewisham police station today, the Mayor and the Met Police Commissioner met some of the coaches and officers supporting the delivery of the programme. They both reaffirmed their ongoing commitment and determination to tackle knife incidents and violence in the capital.
In his second term as Mayor, Sadiq has pledged to build on his support for the Met. As a result of the Mayor’s investment in policing so far, there are now 1,300 more police officers on London’s streets than there would have been. London’s Violence Reduction Unit will also continue to tackle the complex causes of crime in the Mayor’s second term by supporting schools to reduce exclusion rates, investing in our hardworking youth workers and funding hundreds of community activities for young people in areas of high violence.
Photo by Garry Knight, Wikimedia commons.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“There are far too many grieving families in our city who have needlessly lost loved ones to violence. As I start my second term as Mayor, I’m absolutely determined to drive down violent crime across our city. That means a relentless focus on being tough on crime by supporting our hardworking police officers to keep our city safe, as well as being tough on the complex causes of crime, like poverty, inequality and lack of opportunities for young Londoners.
“I’m concerned that we could see an increase in violence this summer as lockdown measures continue to be eased so I’m not only working with the Met police to supress violent activity at a local level, but focusing on prevention programmes that divert Londoners away from violence. One of these initiatives is the Met’s DIVERT programme, which has already helped more than 1,000 Londoners turn their back on a life of crime. That’s why we’re providing additional funding and support to ensure intervention coaches can work to change the lives of many more young adults across our city.”
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick said:
“I am exceptionally proud of the DIVERT programme and everything it has achieved since it was launched back in 2015.
“This innovative programme uses teachable moments to change the lives people who have been arrested.
"With the help of Met Police officers, custody volunteers, charities and employers across London, many have found work and training opportunities but also the confidence and self-belief to lead more purposeful lives.
"DIVERT and other units - such as the Violence Suppression teams - continue to have impact and demonstrate the commitment to our number priority to reduce violent crime."
Ros Holsborough, custody intervention coach for DIVERT, said:
“I have been a Custody Intervention Coach (CIC) for the past two years now. I still find it rewarding to witness people overcome challenges and develop the skills to make healthier choices to improve their lives. As an ‘elder’, you are trying to encourage young people to think about the long-term consequences of the choices they make today.
“When I meet detainees in custody, it’s an opportunity for them to speak to someone about the areas that they are struggling with in life. As a CIC, I’m trying to show young people that they have got options. If I sell that to them, then it’s my responsibility to follow through with the right support. It’s about building trust; you’ve got to start that process in custody and extend on it in the community.”
A young person that has been through the DIVERT programme said:
“During my time with DIVERT, my coaches have supported me a lot. I haven’t had much support from my family or friends, but I’ve not felt as if I needed them whilst having their support. They have taken a lot of time getting to know me and help me through my life problems and goals.
“I think having DIVERT has kept me out of a dark place. I’ve been shown my potential several times when I felt like I had none anymore. They’re always available to contact and always work around both our plans to assure things are followed up and supported.
“I highly recommend DIVERT to anyone struggling or needing support during hard times as they meet every standard I was told and expected.”.