Offenders in Northern Ireland are getting the chance to turn their lives around through the development of a new programme by the Irish FA and agencies involved in the Reducing Offending in Partnership (ROP).
ROP is a Northern Ireland-wide approach to the management of priority, or prolific offenders and young people at risk of offending, by the police service, probation service, youth justice agency and prison service.
This new and innovative intervention aims to reduce re-offending and reduce the number of victims of crime.
Justice Minister, Claire Sugden, commenting on the launch of the new programme said:
"This programme is both innovative and collaborative. I am delighted that Justice organisations including probation, police, prisons and youth justice have come together with the Irish FA to design a programme which aims to tackle the root causes of offending. We need to move beyond dealing with the symptoms of crime and instead deal with the causes and I believe this programme provides an opportunity to do just that. "
Deputy Director of Probation and Chair of the ROP Steering Group, Paul Doran stated:
"Through this programme young people who have offended will learn skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, how to deal with anger issues, and victim empathy. Many of those who have offended have very few positive relationships in their life and it is hoped that through this programme they will encounter positive role models who can motivate and inspire them but also challenge their attitudes and help them move away from a life of crime."
PSNI ACC Stephen Martin added: "The role of the police service is to help keep people safe by policing with the community. We know that to build a safe and secure society we need to work with a range of partners and have the support of the wider community. This initiative is a great example of policing with the community which has the potential to make a real impact in reducing re-offending. This new programme will be evaluated so that we fully understand the outcomes and can evidence the impact. I want to pay tribute to the leadership of the IFA for their commitment in helping to design this programme which will benefit people throughout NI."
Irish FA President David Martin said: “The Irish FA is committed to football for all and believes that our sport makes a positive impact on the community in Northern Ireland. I am delighted that the association is helping to pioneer this innovative programme and I look forward to seeing the meaningful impact it has in the coming months and years.”