Last month, Thames Valley Police launched a youth pilot in a bid to divert children in Milton Keynes from knife crime.
In July 2022, Thames Valley Police launched Operation Deter in Milton Keynes following a number of tragic incidents in the city.
Since its launch, Op Deter has been rolled out in Slough, Aylesbury and Reading, with an objective of obtaining swift charge and remand decisions for offences involving knives.
Following the rollout in tackling adult offending, Thames Valley Police commenced a pilot scheme last month in Milton Keynes aimed specifically at those under the age of 18.
The operation, in partnership with the Youth Offending Team (YOT), will see children receive the same treatment as adults – age will be no protection police say.
The intervention work will look at the root causes of offending, and will seek to determine if the child is being exploited and is actually a victim, rather than a criminal.
The Milton Keynes YOT have a wide range of tools at their disposal, and children will be encouraged to engage.
In the first month, police report that seven young people under the age of 18 have been arrested as a part of Operation Deter, and all seven have engaged with the programme.
Operation Deter lead Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Taylor, said: “Under this new pilot, for the most serious of offences, children under the age of 18 can expect the same treatment as adults – age will be no protection.
“However, research has shown that a large number of children who carry knives claim to do so through fear of exploitation and this is where the intensive intervention of Op Deter will focus its attention.
“There are already well-established processes in place for youth justice, but these processes can often take weeks or even months to bear fruit.
“All this time, children remain vulnerable and offending can continue.
“By working closely with the Milton Keynes YOT, this new approach will see a child who is arrested getting the support they need, alongside their parent or guardian, not within days or weeks, but within hours, while still in police custody.”