The Call In was established in February 2019, in partnership with Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council, and in response to growing concern around the prevalence of drug-related offending and youth crime in East Central Bristol. The Call In aims to divert young people away from crime by providing one-to-one mentoring support and a programme of tailored activities to help young people realise their potential and achieve positive life changes.
East Central Bristol recognizes the overrepresentation of BAME males involved and arrested in relation to drug related offences and street conflict. . Although seen as replaceable by those who exploit them, the consequences of becoming involved in the criminal justice system has a devastating and long-standing impact on the lives of young people. Local police experience has been that for the young people involved, being stopped and searched, arrested and faced with the threat of imprisonment are all ineffective deterrents and within the local community this environment can lead to feelings of friction and mistrust.
Successful programmes in North Carolina and London have demonstrated that positive outcomes can be achieved for offenders and affected communities, by diverting young people away from crime and into personal development, education and employment opportunities. With community input at the heart of these interventions, positive relationships and trust had been rebuilt. This approach has also been recommended in 2016 The Lammy Review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system.
‘Hanging around with the wrong people and devoted to the trap before I had the chance to do something different’
A match funding agreement is in place between Golden Key, the police and Bristol City Council, with Golden Key contracted to provide the Call In mentor service. Call In mentors all have lived experience or knowledge of the issues facing young people from BAME communities in the East Central area of Bristol who are involved in youth conflict and street violence. Their role is to support young people’s recovery from offending and promote positive life changes.
‘Having someone there to talk to and to help me do things I wouldn’t do by myself’
Young people who meet the eligibility criteria and who have been arrested for an applicable drug-related offence can be offered the opportunity to engage with the Call In programme for six months whilst released under investigation. By intervening at the point of arrest, if a young person successfully completes the programme, they are not charged with the offence and avoid going to court and a serving a lengthy prison sentence.
The following diagram illustrates this process:
The Call In Worm
Call In process
In collaboration with the young person, Call In mentors support them to identify their needs and aspirations and support them to engage with activities that promote personal development. Examples have included: driving lessons, gym membership and CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) training. The police have also facilitated group activities such as, go karting, Go Ape and a gang intervention workshop co-hosted by Bristol City Football Club. Police involvement in activities alongside young people has started the process of re-building positive relationships and has begun to break down perceptions of the police and authority. Bristol City Council provide educational and development opportunities including: college courses, work placements and apprenticeships.
'We loved kayaking. What else would I be doing? Smoking weed stood out on the block?’
The Call In is gaining national attention as a grass-roots, innovative diversionary scheme. Avon and Somerset Constabulary have shown a commitment to preventative problem solving and piloting a new way of working within the force area.
‘These youths are out here chasing a lifestyle that I’m just trying to get out of, I don’t want to be doing this’
There has been a consistently high level of community engagement in the programme from the outset. Panels consist of community leaders, council members, police officers, mentors and partner agencies, and the significance of this collaborative way of working can already be seen in the relationships that have been built and strengthened between the police and community. The young people are also present during review panel sessions, providing them with opportunities to contribute to discussions around their progress and to have their voices heard, as well has to gain a sense of the police and the community’s investment in the Call In and in young people achieving and sustaining positive change in their lives.
‘I enjoy when I try something new, but I wouldn’t try it by myself so sometimes I need someone that’s going to push me’
Given that the alternative to young people taking part in the programme is being prosecuted through the court process and in most cases, a prison sentence, the Call In is a highly cost effective diversionary scheme.