Crime Concern hopes to roll out its Norwich Union-backed Youth Apprentice Scheme to locations across the UK if the pilot of the initiative proves successful.
The one-year pilot, which was launched in September 2004, involved four apprentices, aged 18-24, being trained to work with young people at risk of becoming involved in crime.
Mohammed Yaseen, Crime Concern's Youth Apprentice Scheme coordinator, said: "We launched the scheme because research shows that a young person in trouble is more likely to turn to someone their own age who can relate to the problems they face, rather than a parent or authority figure."
The apprentices' responsibilities include working with young people to tackle anti-social behaviour, drug problems and environmental crime. Examples of the tasks undertaken include working to improve the self-image of young girls who have experienced prostitution and running a 'Kick Drugs' project in which, as part of a football coaching programme, youngsters are taught the dangers of drugs.
Norwich Union provided £310,000 to fund the pilot. Expenditure included accredited youth worker training for the apprentices and project workers to manage the scheme.Two of the apprentices have been assigned to a youth inclusion project in Nottingham. The other two have been assigned to a similar, Leicester-based initiative. Although a final evaluation of the scheme will not be completed until January 2006, positive responses to the pilot mean that Crime Concern expects to roll it out to other locations.
A Crime Concern spokeswoman said: "Although the apprentices came in as raw recruits, they are becoming more confident in what they are doing. They're really enjoying it and they all want to continue. We hope to roll out the scheme across the country."
Nick Pierson, Norwich Union head of public affairs, said: "We are looking forward to seeing the Youth Apprentice Scheme expand and evolve on a national level. The scheme is being evaluated at each step throughout this first year and the results so far have been very encouraging.
"We intend to share the evaluation with the Home Office and are hopeful that the principles and recommendations will be adopted."