Page last updated at 05:04 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 06:04 UK

'Early intervention' city starts

A man and a woman walking with a child
Nottingham is one of 20 areas in the Family Intervention Programme

Nottingham is to become the UK's first "early intervention" city, with the launch of measures to stop its poorest children from drifting into crime.

The projects include nursing help for teenage mothers, and children being taught how to discuss their feelings and about the danger of drugs.

It is hoped early assistance will help youngsters avoid anti-social behaviour.

Gordon Brown, who will address the project's launch, said it was vital to help children reach their potential.

Dedicated nurses

Nottingham is one of 20 pilot areas in the government's Family Intervention Programme, which aims to stop bad behaviour spiralling into offending.

Families are already being helped by the scheme, with many signing behaviour contracts to ensure they stay on track.

Under the extended scheme, teenage mothers will be given a dedicated nurse to help them interact with their child.

A 1m programme of lessons has also been introduced in some of the city's schools to help children talk about their feelings rather than resort to confrontation.

Graham Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham North, also wants every 11-year-old in Nottingham to be taught about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

Our target is to break the cycle, so that the kids who are born into some of the poorest families today have a realistic chance of getting the skills and qualifications they need
Graham Allen

About 38,000 children under 18 in Nottingham live in families on benefits or low incomes, according to Mr Allen.

A child from a family on benefits will have heard only 11 million words by the age of four, whereas a youngster of the same age with professional parents will have heard 50 million, the organisation overseeing the project said.

Mr Allen was inspired by a scheme in Denver, Colorado, which suggested that while intervention was expensive, every dollar spent saved 17 dollars in dealing with crime in the long term.

The MP said that for 30 years there had been a policy of late intervention which had "clearly failed".

"We have had remedial measures such as ineffective young offenders' institutions, when actually a fraction of the tax-payers' money that is needed to fund these services could have helped youngsters avoid becoming involved in drugs and crime in the first place," he said.

Other cities have introduced similar measures, he said, but not in the comprehensive manner planned in Nottingham.

He has joined the city council, police and the primary care trust to introduce the services.

He added: "Our target is to break the cycle, so that the kids who are born into some of the poorest and most vulnerable families today, have a realistic chance of getting the skills and qualifications they need to find a job and become active members of society."

In a video message to support the launch, Gordon Brown will say: "Intervening early before problems develop is vital to helping all children reach their full potential, giving them every opportunity to achieve the best for themselves and then go on and reproduce that for their own families."

Nottingham will be launched as an Early Intervention city at a conference at Albert Hall in the city, expected to be attended by some 700 people.

Early warning for bad behaviour
18 Mar 08 |  Education
Project targets 'troubled' youth
07 Jan 08 |  Nottinghamshire
Asbos mean failure, says minister
27 Jul 07 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific