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PCC visits project aiming for a watershed moment in the fight against county lines

Date

18 May 2022
PCC at Kimmel Bay

The PCC for North Wales visited Kinmel Bay to see how money recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act is helping young people to build a positive future at the same time as cutting crime and developing links with peers in Merseyside

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin recently visited the Kinmel Bay Youth Shed to meet the team behind the Youth Shedz initiative, to learn more about the project and to see how money taken from criminals is being put to good use in the community.

Kinmel Bay Youth Shed is part of the Youth Shedz project, which received Your Community, Your Choice funding of £5,000 to help pay for a coordinator on the ‘County Lines 4 Good’ initiative. The Your Community, Your Choice initiative, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police, is in its ninth year. During this time, more than £400,000 has been handed out to deserving causes and much of it has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using money seized from offenders, with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Youth Shedz has established eight projects across North Wales and has around 120 young people involved in Youth Shedz in some way. Their operations include a virtual reality space and the mobile outreach van Betsi, but they wished to connect them all to work together more closely. With this in mind, the team proposed a positive spin on the destructive County Lines criminal network phenomenon, which has been much in the media in recent years. The aim was for a County Lines project that offers hope for young people by getting Shedz in towns across North Wales to work collaboratively, using a blend of in person activities, as well as digital devices and platforms. For example, youngsters in Blaenau Ffestiniog had expressed an interest in doing something for the homeless and wanted to connect with youngsters in Denbigh and Llandudno Junction to do so.

Youth Shedz has also developed links over a number of years with the Teardrops charity in St Helens (a long-established charity that already works with the homeless community) and young people from North Wales have been over the border several times to link in with the work the charity does around gangs and knife crime in Merseyside.

Many of the young people that both organisations work with have either lived experience of County Lines or are highly vulnerable to being manipulated into being involved at street level. The funding from Your Community, Your Choice is being used to provide the resources to connect the Youth Shedderz from Denbighshire, Conwy and Gwynedd with the young people from Teardrops in St Helens so that they can work together to work on this project and develop a young person’s response to County Lines.

With this in mind, Constable Alan Landrum of Merseyside Police Community Engagement Unit and Sergeant Azizur Rahman from Merseyside Police also joined the visit, alongside PC Glyn Edwards and PCSO Kerri-Lea Adams of North Wales Police. 

Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, commented: “I am delighted to support the ‘County Lines 4 Good’ initiative through the Your Community, Your Choice fund. Supporting and protecting children and young people and diverting them away from the Criminal Justice System is a key priority of my plan to cut crime in North Wales and this project from Youth Shedz is a great example of this work in operation.

“Just as ‘County Lines 4 Good’ seeks to turn the scourge of County Lines into a positive way of developing networks between groups of young people in different towns, the Your Community, Your Choice fund does a similar job by taking the proceeds of criminal activity and using them for the good of the wider community. It’s a form of justice in action.”

Scott Jenkinson, Founder, Youth Shedz, said: “We are grateful for the support our project has received from the Your Community, Your Choice fund. Young people from a large city have a lot of experience and wisdom that they can share with youngsters in North Wales. The hope is that by bringing these two groups of youngsters together each will be able to work together, to learn from each other, share insights and create something that will raise awareness of County Lines from both their perspectives.

“At Youth Shedz, we’ve found that young people understand the difficulties that their community has to deal with and that they want to be a part of the solution. This has been discussed many times in Youth Shedz sessions. We want to see more of that in our young people over the next year by linking up the Shedz and getting them working together with their peers over the border as part of County Lines 4 Good.”

North Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Chris Allsop said: “Part of the funding for the Your Community, Your Choice projectcomes from the proceeds of crime and it’s right that money is taken out of the pockets of criminals and put back into community initiatives like the ‘County Lines 4 Good’ project from Youth Shedz.

“This helps turn bad money into good and makes a real difference because it is local people who recognise and understand their local issues and how to solve them. Policing is part of the community, and the community is part of policing, and schemes like Your Community, Your Choice are a positive way of building trust in policing.”

PACT Chair Ashley Rogers commented: “These funding awards are important because they support community projects right across North Wales, just like this one from Youth Shedz, and it’s the communities themselves that decide where the money can best be spent.

 “A lot of what we fund is aimed at providing something for young people to get involved with in their spare time, activities that can help to build skills and positive physical and mental health, and Youth Shedz is a great example of this.”

Youth Shedz hopes that their year of collaborative projects across the counties will help to establish safer communities and also to raise awareness of young people recognising that they are victims of County Lines gangs.

Youth Shedz Cymru is the umbrella organisation that supports other organisations to set up their own Youth Shed by sharing a ‘plant a shed’ toolkit and support. If you are interested in planting a shed then please contact Youth Shedz at info@youthshedz.com

For more information about Youth Shedz, visit: www.youthshedz.com