AN alternative provision group has offered its services to Cheshire Police following recent fights involving Northwich and Winsford youngsters.

Three boys were arrested following a string of arranged fights earlier this month, and now Queensberry Alternative Provision has stepped forward with an offer to educate the children involved.

Formed just over a year ago in response to rising exclusion rates across Cheshire, Queensberry AP draws on years of experience in the education and child behaviour sectors to prevent young people from straying down the wrong paths.

The brainchild of Paul Cooper and Nic Martin, Queensberry AP also works in partnership with HMP Thorn Cross to bring home the real-life impact of criminal activity.

After hearing about the worrying incidents close to home, Paul and Nic contacted Cheshire Constabulary over the issue.

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Nic said: “It’s about educating young people to make better choices and not expecting them to know what those choices are.

“At home, when kids make a mistake, good parenting is to explain that mistake and how they can avoid it in the future, so why can’t that be replicated in this setting?

“Ultimately, if they don't understand what they’ve done wrong and the consequences of it, you can’t then expect them to make a better decision in future.”

Paul added: “If you are convicted of other offence such as drink-driving or speeding, as part of your rehabilitation you are expected to go on an awareness course about the consequences of your actions.

“I think it’s really important to look at the practices of criminalising young people. Along with that caution of conviction should be some form of awareness and education post-incident and, unfortunately, that doesn’t really happen.”

Schools including Rudheath Senior Academy, Weaverham High School and Winsford Academy have used Queensberry AP services over the past year, with Paul and Nic also working with groups in Lancashire where exclusion levels are much higher still.

The focus of their schemes, from a ’12 Rounds’ boxing programme to ‘The Hook’ early intervention workshops, is to support the work of the police and educate young people to make better choices and avoid a ‘snowball effect’ limiting their future opportunities.

Paul said: “That one-glove-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and for people to think that the police are the one agency that can combat these things is a naïve approach.

“Things like a knife sweep have a place in society, as do cautions and convictions, but at the same time you need something else to make people think and change mindsets.

“That’s what organisations like us bring to the table – that open dialogue with young people where they feel comfortable enough to have those conversations that they might not have with the police for fear of repercussion.”