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YOUNG OFFENDERS GIVEN A 'SPORTING CHANCE'

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Local young people who were once thought to be at high risk of committing crime and anti-social behaviour will show...
Local young people who were once thought to be at high risk of committing crime and anti-social behaviour will show how they are changing their lives for the better at a sporting event to be held at the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats Belle Vue Stadium, tomorrow.

The event is the 'Grand Finale' of a 'Sporting Chance' Programme run jointly between Wakefield youth offending team and the community development officers from Wakefield Wildcats.

After a gym session, the young people will also take part in a sporting quiz, and later enjoy the healthy buffet they have helped to prepare for their guests.

'Sporting Chance' has included Featherstone Rovers, Barnsley Football Club and a professional snooker player.The six-week course, developed for young people on intensive supervision and surveillance programmes (ISSP), involves gym and rugby skills sessions, and education on how to make healthier choices about food, alcohol and drugs.

Wakefield MDC cabinet member for community safety and neighbourhoods, Peter Loosemore, said: 'The ISSP team have been running their 'sporting chance' programme for nearly a year and have found that involvement with professional sports people has proved an excellent way to engage hard-to-reach young people and to educate them in healthy living.

'We have shown young people how to use their leisure time in a positive and sustainable way, and we have given them opportunities to learn about living healthily. At the same time, they have developed their literacy and numeracy skills without realising it has been happening. Most importantly they have enjoyed themselves.'

Caroline Jennison, senior education practitioner from the ISSP team said: 'We have been delighted with the success of the entire sporting chance programme. Using professional sports people and facilities to engage young people in education has been a rewarding experience for all of us.'

Wakefield ISSP team have recently been subjected to a rigorous quality assurance review and achieved the highest possible standard of 'commended' for their exciting and innovative team approach.

NOTES

1. ISSP is the most rigorous non-custodial intervention available for young offenders. The programme was developed by the Youth Justice Board. As its name suggests, it combines unprecedented levels of community-based surveillance with a comprehensive and sustained focus on tackling the factors that contribute to the young person's offending behaviour. ISSP targets the most active repeat young offenders, and those who commit the most serious crimes.

The programme aims to:reduce the frequency and seriousness of offending in the target groups; tackle the underlying needs of offenders which give rise to offending, with particular emphasis on education and training and provide reassurance to communities through close surveillance backed up by rigorous enforcement

2. The Youth Justice Board was set up under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to monitor the performance and operation of the entire youth justice system. Its aim is to prevent offending by children and young people. It delivers this by preventing crime and the fear of crime; identifying and dealing with young offenders; and reducing reoffending.

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