Merseyside Police to offer children in custody support from Childline, with aim to break crime cycle

The initiative, which is the first of its kind in the country, aims to support young people and prevent them reoffending.

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Young people who find themselves in custody with Merseyside Police will now be offered help by Childline. The initiative is the first of its kind in the country and could act as a pilot scheme for the UK.

Youngsters under the age of 19 will be offered a confidential call to the NSPCC service, where experienced counsellors will offer them advice and support. In addition to the call, they are offered a solicitor. Merseyside police said the project has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of young people and could stop them reoffending.

The idea came from Deborah Rigby, a retired Merseyside police officer who is now a supervisor at Childline in Liverpool. Through her work, she could see that many young people who come into custody would benefit from the support that Childline offers. Deborah approached Merseyside Police, and Constable Christopher Beedle from Prevention saw the potential in a collaboration with Childline, and they began to work together to make the idea reality.

Constable Beedle said: “This initiative gives us an opportunity to engage with the young people who unfortunately find themselves in police custody. It’s about getting them the right support and keeping them safe once they leave custody. Our aim is to ensure that any young person who enters custody receives the right support that has the potential to make a huge difference to their lives and stop them reoffending.”

Childline Liverpool Supervisor, Dawn RogersChildline Liverpool Supervisor, Dawn Rogers
Childline Liverpool Supervisor, Dawn Rogers

Childline Liverpool Supervisor, Dawn Rogers told LiverpoolWorld: “The counsellors are highly skilled in just being there for that young person, empathising with what they’re going through and signposting them where it’s appropriate. We often talk to young people to help them consider their options and what’s going on for them, what might be the consequences. So, they can make an informed decision about what they want to do next.”

Why it matters: When a young person comes into custody, they are offered support but do not always take it because the offer has come from the police. This often results in young people being released without receiving the additional support they may need and then reoffending, beginning the cycle again. By offering a confidential call to Childline while in custody it may result in that young person accepting support and providing the first step towards breaking the cycle of reoffending.

Child crime stats: In the last six months, Merseyside Police have seen 787 young people come into custody, and the service has the potential to make a difference to many young lives and put them back onto the right path.

Watch the video above to find out more about the Childline scheme with Merseyside Police and to hear from the key people involved.