Network to promote ACE-aware policing in Wales gets £6.8m

By Dan Parton

| 24 May 2019

An initiative that uses intelligence on adverse childhood experiences (ACE) to support the police and youth justice agencies to provide early help to children and young people at risk of offending has been launched in Wales, backed by £6.87m from the Home Office.

New network will support police prevention work with vulnerable young people

The Early Action Together (EAT) ACEs learning network is an initiative between Public Health Wales and policing and criminal justice agencies, who will collaborate under a public health approach to tackling offending.

The programme aims to improve how the police responds to crimes involving children and vulnerable adults - with the aim of diverting them from the criminal justice system, and ensuring they have access to help and interventions earlier.

The network has been produced in partnership between EAT and the Royal Society for Public Health and was developed in consultation with a UK-wide advisory group.

It includes Public Health Wales, the four Wales police forces, police and crime commissioners and Barnardo's working with criminal justice partners including Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service in Wales, Wales Probation Services and Parc Prison and Young Offender Institution, which has been praised for its work with vulnerable young people.

EAT will share evidence-based and best practice findings from the programme, demonstrating the impact of changes police forces in Wales are making. These include implementing new early help systems, working differently with multi-agency partners, how they gather and use information, and how they structure the organisations.

Wales is leading the way on its understanding of ACEs and the impact that childhood trauma can have on behaviour in adolescence and into adulthood. Lessons from the EAT programme will be scaled up across the police and criminal justice sector in England, organisers say. 

"Understanding ACEs and resilience as the risk and protective factors for much of what police deal with is an important step in breaking cycles of crime and adversity," said Janine Roderick, programme director for public health and policing at Public Health Wales.

"The Early Action Together ACEs learning network will provide up-to-date resources and online collaborative services for police, criminal justice and their partners to develop their knowledge and inform taking a public health approach through an ACE lens." 

Research has found that in Wales 14 per cent of people have experienced four or more ACEs by the time they are 18, and 47 per cent have experienced more than one ACE, such as physical abuse, parental incarceration and domestic violence.

Someone who has experienced four or more ACEs is 15 times more likely to have committed violence against another person in the past year, 14 times more likely to have been a victim of violence, and 20 times more likely to spend time in prison. 

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: "The learning network will play an important and influential role in supporting professionals across the board to take the collaborative approach necessary to tackle and mitigate the range of adverse, traumatic and preventable experiences that can and unfortunately do affect too many of our children and young people." 

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