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16 May, 2003

Former offenders use web to deter young people from crime

Former young offenders have helped put together Rizer, a unique new website that provides impartial information and advice to young people about the criminal justice system to deter them from becoming involved in crime.

The content of the site has been developed by the Citizenship Foundation after extensive work with the young people and a range of other partners in this project led by the Galleries of Justice. 'There's so much rubbish and rumours out there but this gives the truth and tells what will happen to you. We've all put so much into it, talking from our own experiences to make sure the right information is on there. I really do think it will help young people stay out of trouble as you get a chance to see what can really happen. When it comes down to it, most people would not be ready to take the risk of being sent down. I think it will deter people from crime.' Chip, 20, former offender. As well as case studies and factual information, Rizer includes a free telephone helpline and email and text messaging service through which young people can get additional advice from trained advisers, provided by the Connexions Service. 'Dealing with Police, school and social workers felt more like a burden than being any help. I felt betrayed and found it hard to trust people so I didn't want to talk to anyone. With Rizer, you know it's always there if you ever get into trouble. No-one is forcing you to look at it and every decision is still up to you. It doesn't tell you what to do.' Daniel, 19, former heroin addict. Speaking at the launch on 13 May, Michael Wills MP, Home Office Minister for Criminal Justice IT, said: 'At a time when youth offending makes up around 40 of all crime committed nationally an initiative such as Rizer is to be welcomed. Using the experience of young offenders, Rizer gives a unique perspective on the real impact of crime on young people, bringing the message home through imaginative use of web technology, supported by telephone and email help-lines.'

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