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New plan to keep young offenders out of prison
A PIONEERING scheme to help young people aged 11-17 at risk of going into care or custody has been launched in Cheshire.
Funding of £200,000 from the Department for Education has enabled a multi-systemic therapy (MST) service to be established throughout Cheshire East.
Multi-systemic therapy is so called because it addresses the different ‘systems’ or social networks in an adolescent's life.
Therapists work not only with the young person but also all those who influence the young person and his behaviour – such as his or her carers, family, teachers and even neighbours.
The system has proved successful elsewhere in Britain at breaking the cycle of crime and anti-social behaviour, by keeping young people at home, in school and out of trouble.
Studies have shown that MST can reduce arrest rates by up to 70 per cent, and reduce out-of-home placements by up to 64 per cent.
MST therapists will be available to families they are helping 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will handle a small number of cases but provide intensive support.
Clr Hilda Gaddum, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of children and family services, said: “Multi-systemic therapy places the emphasis on early intervention, helping young people to address and change their behaviour before they reach the stage of entering care or custody.
“In other areas across Britain we have seen families completing MST and no longer needing support from additional services. This is very exciting for everyone involved in helping these families.
“Numerous studies have shown this approach achieves impressive long-term results. It has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of troubled young people and their families in Cheshire.”