A GROUND-breaking programme to work with teenagers at risk of becoming involved in violent and knife crime has won a £434,000 grant to spread its work across East Lancashire.

The cash for the ‘Pause 4 Thought’ initiative comes from the national Youth Endowment Fund and is spread over two years.

It is one of 22 projects nationwide chosen from 446 candidates for the grants totalling £16.2million.

The wide variety of schemes are aimed at determining what works, what does not and where future resources should be channelled in fighting knife and other violent youth crime.

Blackburn with Darwen Council led the bid on behalf of Pennine Community Safety Partnership which includes East Lancashire's local authorities, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, and the county's police, probation and fire services.

The grant will be invested in the wider roll-out of the ‘Pause 4 Thought’ initiative, which aims to address early stage criminality by teaching young people to recognise warning signs that could lead to harm and how to respond effectively to them and stay out of trouble.

Following a successful pilot with 18 to 24 year-olds in Blackburn with Darwen the scheme will now work with more than 200 10 to 14-year-olds in schools and youth groups in the borough, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale.

The 'Pause 4 Thought' project uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to manage factors which lead to violence and risk taking, to teach people to consider the bigger picture and to think ahead rather than solely in the here and now.

In the USA similar programmes have seen a 44 per cent reduction in the risk of young people going onto commit violent crime.

Cllr Mustafa Desai, Blackburn with Darwen Council's prevention boss, said: “Developing approaches to preventing violence and improving the long-term life outcomes of residents has long been a policy priority.

“Violent crime across places demands on front line services at a time of reducing resources.

"This programme will look to develop early intervention work that will mitigate this demand.”

Dr Rakesh Sharma, clinical lead at the East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen CCGs, said: “I am pleased more young people will benefit from the effectiveness of CBT which has helped so many in the area.”

Sir Kevan Collins, chair of the Youth Endowment Fund, said: "Our first round of grants is the start of a 10-year programme of work designed to build a better understanding of what works to prevent young people being drawn into crime and a violence.”