The Youth Justice Agency and the Irish Football Association (IFA) are to work with Premier League champions Leicester City on their Police and Community Champions programme to help young people move away from crime and anti-social behaviour.
Through (ROP), the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and the Youth Justice Agency work together to tackle priority offenders who commit crime such as burglaries, robberies or thefts and who impact most upon the community. Collectively, representatives from ROP and the IFA have been studying Leicester City's Community Champions programme and how it links Police and statutory partners to the world of football and provides pathways out of crime for offenders or those at risk of offending.
Detective Inspector Mark Dennison, Police Service of Northern Ireland explains: ''Since the start of 2016 we have been working with the IFA on developing a bespoke programme for young people under the Prevent and Deter strand of ROP and also for selected adults who have entered the Rehabilitate and Resettlement strand. At a workshop in March a structure was agreed for a 12 week programme. Work is commencing with ROP partners to ensure that this is delivered in the Autumn.”
Mary Aughey, Director of Youth Justice Services’ at the Youth Justice Agency says: “Leicester City's Police and Community Champions programme was identified as a model of good practice and we are delighted to announce that the Premier League Champions have agreed to become a new and dynamic partner. The IFA and Leicester City will work together through a formal arrangement to help those participating in the programme to move away from crime and anti-social behaviour.”
Paul Doran, Probation Board for Northern Ireland adds: “The recently published Committee for Justice Report on Justice in the 21st Century: Innovative Approaches for the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland” outlined the merit in exploring the introduction of Problem Solving Justice in Northern Ireland. It suggested this was an innovative and effective approach to the Criminal Justice System, particularly against a backdrop of increased budgetary pressures in the Public Sector. This partnership, which considers the needs of the individual, is the type of preventative activity that collectively we need to be focusing on to deliver meaningful outcomes.”
IFA Director of Football Development, Michael Boyd says: “Our new youth strategy, ‘Let Them Play’ has paved the way for exciting new developments and we have set ourselves ambitious targets to build new partnerships within our Football Social Responsibility team to deliver programmes and share good practice. This link up working with ROP and young people at risk is something we are excited about as we seek to deliver Football for All.”
The IFA will initially be delivering a six week programme in Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre, with the content of the 12 week programme being finalised over the summer.
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