Every year around 5’000 young people are excluded from school. Many of these turn to crime and only 15% return to mainstream education. In an effort to intervene earlier, Northamptonshire Police are collaborating with local schools to keep young people within the education system.
There’s a clear link between exclusions and criminal activity. A report by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons discovered that 85% of boys in detention had been excluded from school and 41% were 14 or younger when they last attended. Furthermore, following the riots of 2011, the majority of those arrested had been excluded in the past.
The reasons for this are complex and include a range of factors. For example, a lack of academic support at home is likely to cause anger and frustration at school. Excluded young people may also turn to crime simply due to boredom or the perceived prestige it brings.
One of the most effective ways of tackling this problem is to get involved earlier and shape the individual before it’s too late. If a school is able to avoid an exclusion, it gives the young person more time to consider their wider aspirations.
Across the Wellingborough area, Northamptonshire Police are doing exactly that. By collaborating with various agencies, they’re aiming to reduce exclusions to zero. Sergeant Paul Valentine, explains “Our aspiration is to have no school exclusions across Wellingborough as we recognise the harm it causes.”
The early intervention work involves three key steps:
Young people at risk of joining gangs are identified by using data from various sources.
Via ECINS, schools provide information which is then used to prioritise those most at risk. This is discussed by various partners, including youth service providers, schools, housing offices, early intervention staff, school educational inclusion officers, family centres and anyone else who can add value.
Action is taken to divert the individuals away from crime and keep them within the education system.
By sharing data, each team can get involved in the most effective way. For example, the police are able to conduct family meetings more successfully than schools can, as it’s easier to gain parental consent.
“If schools carry out an Early Help Assessment they can quite often struggle to get parental consent to have a team around the family meeting. This can be due to parent’s concerns about the involvement of social services or child protection agencies. We find that when we send a police officer to cross the threshold into their family home to hold non-confrontational, solution-seeking meetings that it is a less threatening environment,” Sergeant Valentine added.
Each year we spend £17 billion trying to rectify the issues arising from late intervention. If agencies across the country took the same approach as Northamptonshire, the results could be staggering.