BBC Crimewatch Live showcases Cardiff Youth Services' innovative approach to tackling crime amongst young people on


This week, Cardiff's Principal Youth Officer James Healan has appeared on BBC Crimewatch Live to talk about the positive impact that a trail-blazing Virtual Reality (VR) initiative is having on young people across the city.

Virtual Decisions is a preventative tool created by Round Midnight which aims to reduce the risk of young people being victims of crime and violence.

It provides young people with an immersive experience allowing them to navigate a series of challenging situations and make critical decisions in a safe and controlled virtual environment.

The hands-on approach explores topics such as gangs, grooming, peer pressure, and substance misuse and equips participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to make the best choices for their future, in real-life scenarios.

It has so far been rolled out to more than 200 young people and is supported byan excellent 12 session curriculum pack that lets young people learn informally at their own pace.

Crimewatch Live presenters Rav Wilding and MichelleAckerley tried out the VR headsets and were impressed by the engaging technology.

Reflecting on the experience, James Healan said: "We pride ourselves on being a Child rights-based service and we are led by the needs of young people. Through a city-wide consultation with young people we were able to identify a range of issues that they wanted to explore which included areas such as peer pressure, gangs and grooming and how they should handle this type of behaviour if they saw it in their local areas and communities.

"Virtual Decisions allows us to engage with young people and educate them through an immersive experience that can replicate the pressures they might feel. It's a great preventative tool that allows them to explore risk in an environment where there are no consequences and whilst the VR experience acts as a hook to engage young people, the real work goes on afterwards during the curriculum sessions which helps us identify if someone is struggling and allows young people to engage with us in a more open way.

"Being invited to showcase the programme on BBC Crimewatch Live has been a great opportunity to shine a light on the great work being undertaken by Cardiff Youth Services."

Positive feedback from secondary schools across the city, has highlighted the effectiveness of the project, which have been shaped using the views of young people. Those who have taken part have enjoyed the programmes, saying that they met their needs of giving them more awareness of the signs of grooming, exploitation andthe impact their actions could have on individuals, their families and communities.

Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty, Equality and Supporting Young People, Cllr Peter Bradbury said: "Virtual Decisions aims to foster a safer community by empowering young individuals to make positive life choices and challenge the destructive influences of crime and violence. We've had some really positive results with 85% of users saying that it would encourage them to consider their consequences.

"Cardiff Council remains committed to providing comprehensive support and resources to young people in our communities and innovative initiatives such as this, further strengthens our resolve to tackle the challenges faced by our youth and create a brighter, safer future for all."

To find out more about Cardiff Youth Services you can visitCardiff Youth Services