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Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Prince's Trust denies '50m crime fight'
Prince Charles
30,000 young people could benefit from the scheme
The Prince's Trust has played down reports it is to run a 50m project to keep young people away from a life of crime.

The Sunday Times reported the Prince of Wales was to be given the sum to put up to 100,000 disavantaged young people into work attachments.

The trust told BBC News Online there were ongoing discussions with Downing Street about expanding an existing workplace scheme.

But it was too early to say what format it would take and it would not be on the scale reported.

Prince's Trust logo
The Prince set up the trust with 7,000 from his naval pension

The existing Volunteers course trains young people aged 16 to 25 and includes work experience with a business in the community.

It is hoped at the end of the 20 weeks, the candidate is ready to look for work.

The trust has been involved in a 5m pilot scheme with the Learning and Skills Council for the past year, based on Volunteers, in which mentors have been trained in the charity's voluntary work section.

Initial indications are that the scheme has been a success, and if that is confirmed by a formal evaluation which is currently under way, it could form the basis for the larger programme.

'Building confidence'

The trust's Andrew Ridley, in charge of projects and media partnerships, told BBC News Online: "A refined version of Volunteers is what the pilot project is.

"But discussions are at an early stage and they are nothing bigger or grander than that."

He said the 50m figure was the trust's current total budget for the year, and a more realistic intake would be 30,000 people.

Downing Street confirmed Mr Blair met the Prince regularly for discussions and had expressed his appreciation of the work of the Prince's Trust.
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Blair: under pressure on crime

But the spokesman stressed no decisions had been made on the future of the pilot scheme.

The government has recently been looking at a number of initiatives to try to reduce youth crime, including giving courts greater powers and making parents more accountable for their children's behaviour.

The Prince's Trust has been helping young people for 26 years.

The idea first came to Prince Charles in 1976.

Its aim was "to build the confidence of those aged 14 to 30, giving those unemployed (or underemployed) the skills, life experience and financial backing to set out on a fruitful career".

It got off the ground thanks to 7,000 from the prince's personal naval pension.

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