Young drug dealers are being offered job training and driving lessons instead of prosecution as part of a new police scheme.
Youth offenders in Bristol caught dealing will avoid courts if they take up the ‘Call In Scheme’ which involves employment and motivational speaking workshops.
The project is designed to avoid repeat offending and provides gang members with the chance to educate themselves.
The new police scheme will see first-time offenders given the opportunity to learn skills aimed at finding them work instead of appearing in front of a court.
It will target youths who are arrested for drug-supply offences and are at risk of becoming involved in serious criminality including violent crime and gang-related crime.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary say it is a unique scheme in Britain which ”recognises young people can make a wrong choice which risks defining the rest of their lives”.
The force adds that anyone caught offending while on the scheme for 16-21 year-olds will be prosecuted.
Similarly, if it appears that the person is not engaged then they will be charged with the original offence and the new offence if one is suitable.
The scheme includes access to fitness clubs, workshops, motivational speaking events, work placements and intensive one-to-one mentoring.
Detective Superintendent Gary Haskins told the BBC that the police wanted to “take a chance” as most of those involved have only dabbled in dealing.
He said the scheme also helped people to get the necessary paperwork and qualifications to work in the construction industry, provided driving lessons and English lessons if appropriate.
“Why not give them a chance? What is there to lose? We send them to prison and we’ll see them again,” he said.
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