Young people turn ‘detective’ to learn about the dangers of gangs

An innovative prevention project helping young people who are on the cusp of criminality and at risk of being exploited has returned this week. 

Fifteen budding detectives are investigating a knife crime scenario in Liverpool, as part of a week-long programme designed to help young people make the right decisions in the future and equip them to recognise the signs of criminal exploitation.

The Trainee Detective project has been developed by Merseyside Police’s Project Medusa team and award-winning charity Everton in the Community (EitC).

The programme has been designed to raise awareness of criminal exploitation and demonstrates how young people can be manipulated and exploited by those causing misery in our communities through criminality and violence.

During the week, the young people will navigate their way through a fictional criminal case – put together by experienced detectives – to investigate. They will investigate the stabbing of a 14-year-old boy and take part in a wide range of police activity, from interviewing suspects and witnesses, visiting the crime scene to eventually bringing the suspect to Liverpool Crown Court for trial.

To learn more about the devastating consequences of carrying a knife, the young people will meet Nurse Clinician Rob Jackson and Mandy Jamieson. Mandy’s 16-year-old son, Daniel Gee-Jamieson, was fatally stabbed in 2018.

The initiative began in 2019 and has been delivered to more than 120 young people during this time. None of the young people involved in the programme have come to the attention of the force since completing the course.

The project was recognised as “promising practice” by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Service (HMICFRS) in November 2023. Other forces are planning to implement similar programmes based on this model.

It coincides with a series of early intervention and safeguarding initiatives led by Project Medusa under Operation Stonehaven.

Operation Stonehaven is Merseyside Police’s preventative and diversionary pathway for young people. In the last two years, Operation Stonehaven has engaged with more than 10,000 children and young people through partnerships with 60 organisations and charities.

Jimmy Belmar, Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) for Project Medusa said, “Working together with Everton in the Community, we have developed this project to give an insight into how criminals will use and exploit the vulnerabilities of young people for their own gain.

“The young people involved also learn about the impact of criminality and violence and the massive effect it can have on not only a victim’s family and friends, but the wider community.

“The young people really throw themselves into the investigation and come to appreciate and understand the level of work that goes on to investigate crime.

“Our ultimate aim is to show young people that there are other choices they can make that are within the law and without the dangers that come from becoming involved with organised crime groups.

“Merseyside Police was recently graded outstanding for its approach to tackling serious organised crime by HMICFRS and this project was highlighted an example of best practice. We are incredibly proud of the impact it is having on young people in our region.”

Sue Gregory, Chief Executive Officer for Everton in the Community, said, “We are delighted to once again be delivering this trainee detective programme with Merseyside Police to help raise awareness of criminal exploitation with our young people, as well as educating them on the consequences knife crime can have on our communities.

“The trainee detective programme is extremely innovative and impactful and really helps to provide young people with insight into the serious issues which exist on our streets. We strongly value our working relationship with Merseyside Police and look forward to strengthening this in 2024 to further develop our early intervention programmes to support and protect those at risk.”

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