A youth diversion project has been gathering pace in Sunderland City Centre, acting as a last chance for known offenders, to bring an end to their violent crime.

In a short space of time, the project has been showing some fantastic results including a 22% drop in anti-social behaviour compared to the previous year.

The team have hit the ground running as they continue to identify young people causing the most harm in the city centre and working with them to address their behaviour, as well as responding to the wider needs of their families.

This intensive support has seen young people get back into education or take up training and employment opportunities, therefore providing a positive diversion from violent crime.

This project brings together a range of partners including Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland BID, with the shared goal of tackling serious violence and providing some much needed respite for the city’s businesses and residents.

Now, following the success in Sunderland, work is ongoing to replicate this intensive programme of support in Newcastle, to disrupt violent crime by working with known individuals to address the underlying causes of their offending behaviour.

There is no escape for offenders of violent crime, who will now feel the full force of these diversion projects, and for those who choose not to engage, swift enforcement action will be taken.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness said: “This is the end of the line for those who think it is acceptable to cause chaos and devastation in our communities – and having already seen such positive results in Sunderland, I welcome this work being rolled out by the Violence Reduction Unit, as a last chance for individuals to change their behaviour. It’s vital that we keep throwing everything we can at tackling violent crime to make it as difficult as possible for individuals to continue offending.”

She added: “Our cities have so much to offer, so whether you are heading to the shops, off to a match, enjoying a night out or simply going to work, I want to reassure you that, along with Northumbria Police and other key partners, we will continue to do all we can to prevent crime from happening.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “It’s brilliant to see the difference this has made in such a short space of time as part of the SAIL Project, which is all about working in partnership to make our city centre a more attractive and safer place to be for everyone who lives, visits and works there.”

Knife Crime and Serious Youth Violence Lead for Northumbria Police, Chief Superintendent Helena Barron, said: “It is fantastic to see projects like this making such a difference to the lives of young people and to the wider community. We welcome the roll out in Newcastle and look forward to seeing the results.

“As a Force, we know how detrimental and disruptive youth disorder, antisocial behaviour and violent crime can be for those caught up in it which is why we are committed to working with our partners to tackle this type of criminality in the most appropriate and effective way.”

For more information, please contact the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit by email vru@northumbria-pcc.gov.uk