Monday 20 Sep 2010


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

Up to 72 young offenders in Wiltshire are getting a chance to learn professional DJ skills as part of a new early intervention programme to help prevent crimes on the railway.

The programme begins today with around 12 young offenders starting a nationally accredited DJ course that will last for seven weeks.

Initiated by Network Rail and in partnership with Trowbridge Town Council, Wiltshire Council, the Mark Davis DJ Academy and the Wiltshire Police, the programme aims to reach out to young people who are most at risk of involving in rail crimes. 

The programme will give young offenders a safe place to learn a new skill and take part in group activities.  They will be supported by appointed role models/mentors to help positively influence their attitude towards education and crimes.

Wiltshire has one of the highest number of railway crimes in the west of England and based on latest figures, nearly 40% of these crimes in the area are committed by young people.  Among the hotspots in Wiltshire include Trowbridge, Chippenham and Westbury.

There are more than 600 recorded rail crime incidents in west of England last year and half of these are committed by young people.

Liz Heading, community safety manager, Network Rail said: ”While the number of incidents involving young people is coming down, far too many continue to risk their lives by deliberately misbehaving on the railway. We want to continue to prevent such incidents. 

“One of the best and most cost-effective ways to reduce rail crimes is to prevent young people from getting into trouble in the first place.  This programme, which is part of our No Messin’ campaign, aims to achieve that by helping young people find more rewarding ways to spend their free time.”

Julie Higdon, youth justice worker, Youth Offending Team said: "Youth Offending Teams recognise the adverse impact crime and anti-social behaviour can have in our local communities and the importance of addressing such behaviour. Working in partnership with Network Rail on projects that engage young people in constructive, innovative activities like the DJ Project helps to improve opportunities for young people and inspire them to change their behaviour and become involved in more creative productive pursuits as well as achieving a qualification along the way."

Mark Davis, professional DJ trainer, said: "Developing young people's interest in music through DJ skills can help to give them a strong sense of achievement and direction, in previous projects some  students have gone on to a full time career in the music industry, whether that be DJing, club promotion, making music or even as recording artists."

According to a report, early intervention to prevent young people offending could save public services more than £80 million a year.

An independent national evaluation of similar programmes also found that:

- arrest rates reduced by 65% in every 50 young people considered to be most at risk of crime

- of those who had offended before joining a similar programme, 73% were arrested for fewer offences after engaging in such programmes

- of those who had not offended previously but who were at risk, 74% did not go on to be arrested after engaging with a similar programme

Notes to editors

Up to 72 young people will be referred by the Youth Offending Team to take part in a 7-week course.  There will be a total of six courses over the next one year.

Each course will involve DJ workshops with a professional DJ, an introduction to radio session, one week radio taster session at the Studio of Spark Radio in Chippenham, the opportunity to DJ at the Bluez N Zuz youth club nights and the opportunity to DJ live on Spark Radio.

Participants will also get to compile a portfolio for a Bronze Youth Arts Award, which is nationally accredited.

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