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ref: rizer rbc 02.0001

£1million For Young Offenders Website

Young offenders across the country are being targeted with a unique, new £1.1m website called Rizer
http://www.rizer.co.uk - under construction, which aims to deter them from a life of crime.

The award-winning Galleries of Justice museum http://www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk is developing the site for launch in April 2003. Nottingham-based, the Galleries was chosen to deliver the project because of its reputation for innovative work with young people on issues of crime and social exclusion through its education wing, the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law. Although it is a voluntary sector organisation the initiative is being entirely funded with money from the government.

Much of the Galleries work is based around the proven value of early intervention to divert young people at risk from becoming involved in crime. Rizer’s primary purpose is to act as a deterrent to a life of crime and to explain and provide neutral guidance on the criminal justice system as it relates to young people. A combination of text, audio, photos and video is being used to communicate with people often suffering from low literacy skills.

Aiming to help young people at risk of falling into crime and the parents and concerned adults working with them, the site will contain impartial, confidential national information on the legal system and the consequences of becoming involved in crime. Aside from its deterrent nature it will also include a 24-hour helpline and legal advice on issues such as drugs, theft, assault and racism as well as links to organisations providing essential help and assistance.

The Galleries of Justice has chosen the Citizenship Foundation http://www.citfou.gov.uk to provide the content for the site while new media specialists Digit http://www.digitlondon.com will supply the branding and visual identity. By capitalising on the particular appeal of the web to young people Rizer aims to open up a direct and impartial communication channel. Heavily biased towards young people in its language and visual style the site contains interactive case studies showing the consequences of becoming involved in crime.

Work has begun with current and ex-offenders and other young people in Nottingham and London to find out the best ways to communicate with young people through the web and what visual and language styles they are most receptive to. Voluntary, charity and statutory organisations including Victim Support, the Police, Youth Justice Board, Magistrates Court, teachers and the Commission for Racial Equality are also making a significant input into the development of the site and will be closely involved in its progress.

“This is a real opportunity to open a new avenue of communication to young people at risk of becoming involved in crime,” says Peter Armstrong, CEO at the Galleries. “We are consulting widely with young people and adults working with them to make sure we get the website right and have already had positive feedback on the Rizer name and some of the visual work that is being done.”

Money for the £1.1m initiative is coming from the government’s ‘Invest to Save’ and Criminal Justice IT budgets. The first site of its kind in the UK, Rizer opens a new communication channel and brings a new element to the government’s crime reduction strategy. With more than 80% of those entering a young offenders institution re-offending within two years the key to the project is to deter young people from becoming involved in the criminal justice system in the first place and to support those trying to move away from a life of crime.

“It’s crucially important to catch people at an early age and move them away from a life of crime. All the evidence shows that once you have entered the criminal justice system then it is very difficult to break out and that the most likely time for this to happen is during your teens.

“If Rizer deters just a small percentage of young people from becoming involved in crime then the benefits to society will be substantial,” says Steve Brookes, Crime Reduction Director at the Government Office of the East Midlands (GOEM).

As well as national information the site will contain local contacts and links specific to Nottinghamshire, which is acting as the pilot area for regional information links and contacts. Analysis of Notts pilot will determine the best approach and the additional funds needed to add local and regional information from across the country during 2004.

- ends -

notes to editors:

Galleries of Justice

http://www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk

National Centre for Citizenship and Law

http://www.nccl.org.uk

Criminal Justice Information Technology

http://www.cjit.gov.uk

Citizenship Foundation

http://www.citfou.org.uk

Digit

http://www.digitlondon.com

Criminal Justice System

http://www.cjsonline.org

Youth Justice Board

http://www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk

CJIT: Criminal Justice Information Technology was formed in December 2001. It works to all three of the principal Criminal Justice departments (Home Office, Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General’s Departments). It is co-funding the project to develop http://www.rizer.co.uk

photography/images: Available upon request interviews: Available with spokespeople including young offenders on request


For further information please contact:

Miriam McNicol

Red Brick Communications,

T - 0115 910 1500; F - 0115 910 1490

E: miriamm@redbrickcommunications.com






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