Young drug dealers offered driving lessons in bid to cut crime

Young drug dealers are being offered education, apprenticeships, fitness training and driving lessons in a bid to prevent reoffending.
Driving lessons are one option being consideredDriving lessons are one option being considered
Driving lessons are one option being considered

Avon and Somerset Police hope the pilot scheme, named the Call In, will provide a legal means of participants making money and cut violent crime.

Those taking part are chosen by a panel and must be aged between 16 and 21, without any convictions for sexual or violent offences.

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Participants are given the choice of going to court and facing a potential prison sentence, or accessing Call In services over a six-month period.

They are offered Bristol City Council's post-16 youth services, including education and training, assigned a mentor and given weekly fitness sessions.

The scheme, based on a project in America, is featured in a BBC News Channel documentary named Beyond The Frontline.

Detective Superintendent Gary Haskins, who runs the Call In scheme, told the BBC: "What I do see is an awful waste of talent, and bright young individuals that have turned to criminality.

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"What can we do to stop them offending? That's what the principles of the Call In is all about."

The Call In helps participants to obtain paperwork and qualifications to work in the construction industry and provides driving and English lessons where required.

The first cohort started the Call In scheme in February, with up to 16 taking part, the BBC reported.

"Although this is just a pilot, my hope is that we will provide a blueprint for breaking the cycle of crime and prosecution which sees so many young people's potential wasted," Mr Haskins said.

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Clinton Wilson, known as King Aggi, once ran a multi-million pound drug empire in Bristol but is now supporting the initiative.

Mr Wilson, 43, who served 12 years in prison, was part of the Aggi Crew that led to armed police being deployed in east Bristol.

"I would love to try and change some stuff around Bristol, just help the youth, give them some insight," he told the BBC.

"Help them from being in these gangs, fighting about nothing and going to prison.

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"I just believe these kids are doing this thing because they're scared.

"If we could change mentalities, you can change a whole heap of things in this whole area."

Mr Wilson went through the Street 2 Boardroom programme in Bristol, run by local entrepreneur Clayton Planter.

Mr Planter said those working outside the law were often "sophisticated business managers" and "strategic planners".

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"I realised that if these guys could be given the confidence to develop a career within a corporate environment, they could really flourish - because many of them were business geniuses," he said.

One 14-year-old boy told the BBC he had seen family members killed, his father sent to prison and his cousin shot in his home.

He said he could not see himself working a "normal nine-to-five ever in my life".

"All I know is just being in the streets," he said.

:: Beyond The Frontline, presented by Charlotte Callen, will air on the BBC News Channel at 9.30pm on Friday and will then be available on BBC iPlayer.