U-Turn is an intervention programme designed to intercept the onset of low level group offending by delivering important education in secondary schools. U-Turn aims to prevent offending and/or the escalation to more serious crime through relevant education at a crucial point in young peoples development. This course is designed to be taught in schools, it fits with PSHE and Citizenship curriculum and can be delivered in term or half-term lengths with a group of up to 30 students.
Sessions cover topics such as; stop and search, joint enterprise, media influence, cultural norms, being safe and achieving success. This course is designed to encourage its participants to fully investigate what to expect from a life of crime and/or gang membership in order to counteract the myths that are often promoted in youth cultures. Students will explore how and why people get involved in violence, criminal activities and group offending, and examine the consequences to such behaviours and lifestyles.
Students also discuss the benefits of alternative aspirations, coming up with positive and realistic solutions to the problems and challenges they may face in achieving success. These included the dangers of gun and knife crime (being safe), making the most of educational opportunities (enjoying and achieving) steps to future employment (achieving economic well-being) and issues around feeling unfairly targeted, held back by circumstances or misrepresentation within their community (community involvement).
With funding from the Home Office through the End Gang and Youth Violence Initiative this project has worked with over 200 students between the ages of 11 and 14 in the London Borough of Lewisham. As part of the work around Stop and Search, U-Turn conducted a survey with 95 of the participants which produced revealing results.
Of those asked, 53% had either experienced a stop and search themselves or had witnessed a close friend or family member being stopped and searched. Despite this majority having had contact with stop and search tactics, 88% of students felt they did not understand what their rights and responsibilities were during the procedure.
In addition to this, 68% believed that not enough was being done to educate young people about stop and search. A staggering 95% of the young people asked felt that attending particular schools or living in certain areas would increase their chances of being stopped and searched whilst 61% thought that stop and search could be improved.
The results from the survey within this project highlights the importance of work with young people that educates around the issues that are beginning to impact on their everyday lives and experiences. U-Turn received excellent feedback from participating schools and students taking part, and PYE has continued to provide further specialist educational provision to many of the locations U-Turn was delivered.