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Pop up prison cell set to steer children away from crime

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 26, 2014

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A ‘POP-UP’ prison cell is being used in a new project to teach young people in North West Leicestershire about the reality of receiving a jail sentence.

The Crime and Time initiative will see the realistic portable cell taken to schools, youth groups and groups of young people identified as being at risk of offending, in a bid to show them where a life of crime might see them end up.

As well as youngsters being able to see for themselves the inside of a cell, they will get the chance to speak to mentors who work for the Probation Service about their experiences of custody, and of life working with prisoners.

These volunteers have either been in prison themselves or have served a community sentence, and now give up their time to educate others about the consequences of crime.

Probation Service peer mentor Beverley Castor said: “I think that it’s great that we can share and show the young people what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the law.

“The project also shows how it’s not cool to get arrested and how scary it can be, especially when the young people get the chance to see how it would feel to be locked up with our mock prison cell.”

The initiative has been developed by Leicestershire County Council’s youth offending service in conjunction with Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust and Soft Touch Arts, which designed the cell.

Joe Orson, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for safer communities, said: “We hope that the visual impact of seeing what the inside of a prison cell is really like, along with the first-hand experiences of people who have spent time in jail, will help deter young people from committing crime.”

The scheme has been funded by Leicestershire Police’s base crime unit funds and the initiative will be supervised by the county council

The project is available to schools and youth groups and can be booked by calling Kam Chauhan on 0116 3052656 or emailing kam.chauhan@leics.gov.uk

Alternativly, more information is available by calling Helen McNulty on 0116 305 2607 or emailing helen.mcnulty@leics.gov.uk

Further details on the project are available by visiting www.leics.gov.uk/youthjustice

The initiative is one of several run by the county council in a bid to try to deter youngsters from committing crime and getting into trouble with the police.

These have included schemes were young people caught causing trouble faced restorative justice instead of a criminal record.

This has seen people cleaning up graffiti in Ashby and Measham, as well as litter-picking across the area.

Councillor Orson added: “Reparation work helps young people realise the impact of their offences.”

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