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Date TimeAugust 28, 2019
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Drug dealers offered driving lessons instead of prison in new police scheme
Drug dealers are being offered driving lessons instead of a prison sentence, in a new police scheme which attempts to end the “revolving door” of reoffending.  The first of its kind to be implemented in the UK, the scheme will guide young offenders towards education and employment, diverting them away from “serious criminality”. Call-In, run by Avon and Somerset police, is targeted at 16 to 21-year-olds who have been arrested for drug-supply offences.  The offenders will be offered six-to-nine months training upon arrest instead of facing criminal proceedings, with sessions on offer such as non-contact boxing, anger management or a business management course with the organisation Street2Buisness.  Still in its pilot stage, the scheme has also helped some offenders gain driving lessons and “if appropriate” English lessons, according to Det Supt Gary Haskins. As The Daily Telegraph reported in June, similar schemes run by Durham, Cleveland and Avon and Somerset police forces have previously only been offered to drug users. County lines feature The police told the BBC one person on the scheme had been removed and charged with dealing class A drugs. He will appear in Bristol Magistrates' Court in September. While another was been removed after being found in possession of a weapon. A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said: “If a candidate is arrested for an offence while on the programme, or does not engage, the candidate will be invited in for a review.  “If it appears the young person is not engaged then the candidate will be charged with the original offence and the new offence if one is suitable.” The new initiative will also undergo a “rigorous” review process, including an independent academic evaluation to judge its success, sustainability and impact on gang related and drug crime, police said.  Det Supt Haskins said: "We're quite strict around it. We've had a good look at it, this is normally for people that have made that one mistake and people we think we can work with. "Why not give them a chance? What is there to lose? We send them to prison and we'll see them again.”

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