A NEW programme will see violent young offenders being offered support to make positive changes in their lives.

The new police Divert programme, which has already been used in the Metropolitan Police, will now be adopted across Blackburn, Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston.

The programme has already reduced reoffending from 27 per cent to eight per cent in London.

Young people will be invited to engage with a Divert coach who will work to move them away from crime.

Arriving in police custody can be a particularly low point in a young adult’s life, and the coaches use this time as a teachable moment.

Coaches will work with them to develop and work towards a plan to meet their education, training and employment goals.

The programme is a partnership between Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, Lancashire Police, New Era and football clubs Accrington Stanley, AFC Fylde, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool and Fleetwood Town.

Inspector Dave Oldfield, of Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, said: “The Divert programme takes a public health approach to violence by addressing the reasons people offend.

“It helps young adults to find hope and explore opportunities so that they can improve their circumstances and build a life away from crime.

“Helping young people to make positive changes also improves the lives of their families and their communities.

“By reducing reoffending, we are also reducing the number of victims of crime.

“Divert has changed the lives of young adults in London, and we are confident the programme can achieve the same success here in Lancashire.”

Working with a coach is voluntary, confidential and does not influence any criminal proceedings.

Young people can reconnect with Divert after being released from prison.

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Tackling crime and developing safe and confident communities are key priorities for me and this programme has been shown to make a real difference in helping offenders turn their lives around.

“This can only be a good thing as it makes our streets safer and reduces chances of reoffending."