Operation PRELUDE

Operation Prelude is a focused deterrence programme, using the principles of problem solving, it is designed to focus activity on those individuals presenting the greatest risk to local communities and divert them away from offending.

Often called “pulling levers” focussed deterrence seeks to deter offending through fear of sanctions whilst encouraging diversion through the recognition of the opportunities available. Having gained recognition through its use reducing gun crime in Boston in the 1990’s focussed deterrence has been integral in the reduction of violence in Glasgow. It is now identified as one of the approaches with the greatest potential to reduce violence and weapons related crime by the College of Policing.

The Op Prelude programme is focussed on supporting people currently involved in violence, knife crime or County Drugs Lines activity in order to help them disengage from criminality and make positive life choices. Working with individuals the programme seeks to identify the key issues in their life and work with them to achieve sustained positive change in their behaviour and reduce offending.

The programme has four stages:


In order to have the greatest impact this programme is designed to focus activity and diversionary interventions towards those individuals who present the greatest risk of violence within their local communities. Using data from the Police Serious Violence Dashboard and information from Partners a local multi agency decision will be agreed as to those individuals who will benefit the most from participation on the programme and an agreed plan for engagement with the individual will be developed.

It is envisaged that the identification stage of the process occurs within existing partnership processes and meetings in order to reduce the need for additional meetings or bureaucracy. 

Engage and Explain

Once an individual has been identified a suitable person will be identified to make the initial approach to the individual, this may be a previous YOS or Probation member of staff who the individual has got a positive relationship with or a local youth worker who has lived experience and somebody the individual may relate to. The selection of this person is crucial to the success of the programme and the individual’s participation.

Once engaged the individual is informed of the concern regarding their offending and spoken to regarding their current behaviours, the possible life consequences and outcomes of their offending and the fact that they are now a priority for the police. They will then be informed of the benefits of the Op Prelude programme, the dedicated help, support and services available and the opportunity to make a fresh-start towards a more positive life.

If the individual chooses not to engage, a disruption plan is developed to encourage engagement. This is likely to include a period of focussed enforcement activity which would include standard Police disruption tactics (such as search warrants, bail checks, vehicle compliance etc), as well as ‘Achilles Heel’ enforcement by partner agencies. Throughout this period of focussed activity the “engage and explain” process will be repeated with the individual being revisited and offered participation on the Op Prelude program with an emphasis on the fact that the police want to support them into a new lifestyle and do want to be pursuing an enforcement approach. If the individual continues to decline the programme then the case will be regularly reviewed as to whether it is proportionate for the enforcement activity to continue.

Problem Solving

If the individual chooses to voluntarily engage on the programme a problem solving approach will be taken to tackle the causes of their offending. A Needs Assessment will be completed in order to assist in identifying those issues in their life that may be contributing to or driving their involvement on crime. The Needs Assessment will examine 12 different elements of the individual’s life, such as accommodation, mental health, wellness, substance abuse, positive influences, managing strong feelings etc.  This assessment will inform the identification of appropriate support and diversionary interventions that are designed to support the individual in disengaging from criminal activity.  The second part of the assessment asks the individual about their aspirations and what they enjoy in life.  This will help develop positive activities that will enrich their experience of the programme, help maintain engagement and ensures that the individual is given a voice in the development of their personal/individual support programme.

A suite of diversionary interventions, including both statutory and non-statutory partners, has been developed across the Thames Valley. These include organisations that can assist with issues such as housing, substances misuse, finances, mental health etc.  A range of providers have been identified who can support individuals back into education, training and employment along with providers who offer positive enrichment activities that will enable an individual to start their journey back onto a positive pathway.

On completion of the Needs Assessment an agreed diversionary plan is developed with the individual setting out an agreed timescale and milestones for the individual to engage with the provision offered and to move away from offending.  The individual will be provided with a mentor in order to help the individual develop a positive mind-set and help guide better life choices and support long term engagement in the programme.

If it is felt appropriate to provide the individual with a Buddi Tag to encourage disengagement with the activities or behaviours that contributed to their offending lifestyle this can be provided.


Once the individual commences their diversionary plan ongoing support is provided by the Officer in the Case. The Needs Assessment will be reviewed every six weeks in order to monitor progress and inform a new action plan if required. 

The individual’s participation in the programe is for as long as the support is required in order for the individual to meet the goals of their diversionary plan and reduce their offending, typically a programme of support will last for a 12 month period. When appropriate an exit plan for leaving the programme will be developed along with appropriate signposting to any support agencies required to enable the individual to sustain their progress.

On leaving the program the individual will be requested to offer feedback and their period on the programe is reviewed and evaluated.