Chief Inspector Jack Rowlands, of the Metropolitan Police, is the creator of DIVERT, a police custody diversion programme, designed to help 18-25s away from crime into employment, education and training. In this Q&A he shares how Covid-19 has affected crime in London.
How has Covid-19 impacted your work?
Working both at City Hall and New Scotland Yard has meant I have mainly been working from home. Luckily have decent technology at hand meaning I can keep connected to people and keep focus on key elements of my work.
What has the impact of Covid-19 been on youth crime?
On the face of it, crime involving young people whether they are the victims or perpetrators of crime has fallen dramatically, I personally haven’t seen such a sharp drop in crime in my career.
It is, however, really important to be mindful that this is short term and our focus on preventing violence must remain clear even when its dropping. My focus is on how we try and mitigate any spikes in violence when lockdown has been lifted. This is obviously going to take collaboration in the form of after school provision, diversion opportunities and support for communities and families. From a policing perspective it’s up to us to ensure any high harm offenders or any emerging threats of violence are tackled in the form of enforcement. I am adding the option of diversion to that as well as we recognise that some young people maybe pulled into crime when this is over, it’s important we give them an option to make a better choice.
DIVERT is one such programme operating in police custody. At the moment we are having to take remote referrals meaning we can’t directly see people we want to work with, this is different to how we usually work. However, it’s giving us an opportunity to catch up with people we have worked with and put in additional support during this time.