TRAC Gwynedd Pupils Learn About the Dangers of Gang Activity
Recently James Riley of RJ Lifeskills has been working with TRAC pupils in Ysgol Eifionydd, Porthmadog; Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, Caernarfon and ‘Pecyn 25’ pupils.
During the Cefnfaes Centre session in Bethesda with the ‘Pecyn’ 25 crew, the pupils listened attentively to the presentation given by James, who used stories about gang activity and the indirect effect this can have on people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He outlined the duration individuals would spend in prison for various offenses, and explained the 'joint enterprise law' in simple terms – that is if an individual is present, or that the individual's actions have led to murder, they would be imprisoned for life.
He continuously referred to 'hopes and dreams' throughout the session, and what young people could lose or never have the chance to do if they were imprisoned. He showed a very hard hitting video of gang activity and the consequences that followed, and repeated throughout the session that it was important for pupils not to be 'sheep' and not to follow the rest.
Pupils from Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen said: “Legend of a session. I’ve learned a lot.”
“A really good bloke and he’s changed my mind about things.”
“It’s made me think about things that happen in the world outside of Caernarfon.”
“To not do bad things and get into silly gangs.”
For 18 years James Riley worked within the Criminal Justice System as a Probation Officer. For the final seven years he was a specialist Officer working solely with those involved in Urban Street Gangs and Serious /Organised Crime Groups in the Merseyside area.
In 2012 he was awarded the High Sheriff Award for Merseyside for his work and also received a commendation from Merseyside Police for his assistance in the removal of firearms from the community.
Realising the most effective way forward was ‘prevention’, James used his unique experience in working with the most high profile USG/SOC cases and developed an early intervention for young people which has been commissioned by Housing Associations, Merseyside Police, West Yorks Police, Schools and the local authority.
The GANGS Get Away ‘N’ Get Safe programme was developed using both professional research, best practice guidance and personal experience, and is an intensive 5 session educational, preventative and diversionary intervention which aims to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of criminality, ASB, knife crime, drugs, exploitation, OCG’s/gang lifestyle for the individual, their families and the wider community.
It empowers young people to make informed decisions about their current or future associates and lifestyle, thus reducing the potential risks of criminality and gang related behaviour.
The program is inclusive of all learning styles and uses presentations, role play, music and videos to engage the participants whilst continually sending out the message, ‘Get Away ‘N’ Get Safe’. He aims to safeguard children and young people across the country and hope to inspire the next generation to take control of their futures and achieve their dreams!
To learn more about the programme go to www.getaway-n-getsafe.co.uk
PHOTOGRAPHS: Secondary pupils in a recent event to discuss the dangers of gang activity