Project 0114 – the partnership project set up with Home Office funding through Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner focussed on tackling child criminal exploitation and associated knife and gun crime across the city is underway.

Sheffield Futures is leading the initiative in conjunction with Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, St Marks Church, Broomhill, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).

From June onwards, year seven pupils in secondary schools across the city, along with year six children in primary schools in targeted areas, will have six information and skills based sessions focussed on preventing child criminal exploitation and exploring the effects of knife and gun crime. The series of sessions will be co-delivered by youth workers and specially trained young people in schools.

Young people will be provided with information about how they can seek support to move away from serious youth violence and to understand their rights and responsibilities in this area.  This element will form a key strand of the new Violent Crime and Organised Criminality (VCOC) strategy in Sheffield.

A second strand to the programme will see youth work activities delivered for young people in targeted areas to provide safe spaces where they can benefit from the strengths and experience of delivery partners, learning new and inspiring arts, music, media and sports skills. The five areas of the city as identified in the VCOC strategy are Broomhall, North East Sheffield, Manor Castle/Arbourthorne, Burngreave/Pitsmoor and Low Edges.

Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures comments, ‘Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city. And, in the areas we know are being targeted by criminals intent on exploiting our young people we hope to engage children in inspiring activities and at the same time offer safe spaces where young people can learn and thrive.’

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Criminal gangs are targeting younger people, encouraging them to get involved in criminality.  Young people, looking for friendship, are drawn into the gang and through the simple task of carrying a package may be taking the first steps towards criminal behaviour.

“We all need to work together in partnership to educate young people and offer early intervention to ensure they understand the risks and can make good decisions – if approached by organised crime gangs.”