On Merseyside following the tragic murder of Rhys Jones in August 2007 in Liverpool, Merseyside Police adopted a “both and” approach – spending money on a “Big Society response” and a “law and order” response.
The Community Foundation for Merseyside established the Merseyside Young Transformers (MYT) Programme in November 2007 in partnership with Merseyside Police, the Home Office, the UK arm of the Desmond Tutu Foundation and the Liverpool Echo newspaper. Its remit is to tackle anti-social behaviour, create transformational opportunities for young people who are disaffected within their communities and explore the issues of gang culture and street crime with cross-sector partners.
The Merseyside Young Transformers Programme provides grants to local groups and community leaders to provide diversionary, engagement and transformational local activities for young people, especially those on the verge of crime, to create a safer and stronger community. Essentially it aims to support and give confidence to local people who have found or who are exploring local solutions to the issues.
Results so far have been positive. Local projects succeeded in reducing levels of anti-social behaviour in the local area by 11.6% in the programme’s first year. One project saw 20% of attendees who were previously repeat offenders gain employment and another project created a youth engagement framework that has encouraged young people attending the pilot project to mentor other young people.
MYT has been noted as a model of best practice by the previous government’s Home Affairs Select Committee and the Channel 4 Street Weapons Commission in 2009. The programme continues to operate and was launched last year in Lancashire based on the Merseyside model’s success.