20 July 2018

The Youth Violence Commission is a cross-party commission that was launched in 2017 to examine the root causes of youth violence in England, Scotland, and Wales and to make policy recommendations to address them.

The commission is made up of six MPs from the Labour, Conservative, Scottish National, and Liberal Democrat parties. It is chaired by Vicky Foxcroft MP, supported by the University of Warwick’s Warwick Policy Lab, and is advised by a number of researchers and sector experts. One of the advisors, Leroy Logan, Chair of the London Independent Youth Safety Advisory Board and a retired Metropolitan Police Service superintendent, gave an update of the commission’s work to London Youth’s Tackling Youth Violence Network in May 2018.

The commission have published an interim report of their findings. A final report is expected to be published in October 2018.

The report

In its approach, the commission has emphasised finding evidence-based and long-term solutions to the complex root causes of youth violence. The report identifies these causes as childhood trauma, undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues, inadequate state provision and deficient parental support, poverty and social inequality. It also notes the contributing factor of austerity and the financial climate and the barrier of a lack of trust between police and some communities. The report makes a refreshing point about damaging misconceptions of youth violence in the public narrative.

The report emphasises that there are no quick solutions to these broad, societal problems. Its recommendations call for a focus on early intervention and a commitment to meaningful and sustained collaboration across agencies and sectors.

Developing a national Public Health Model: Based on evidence from Glasgow’s Violence Reduction Unit, the report calls for a holistic and integrated system of care. This should rely on a whole-system change that is supported with sustained political backing. The commission also warns about common misunderstand of the public health model.

A focus on early years and early intervention: The commission notes the many negative effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It calls for trauma-informed services and a significant re-investment in early childhood centres to limit their impact on young people’s lives.

Fundamental reform of youth services: The commission is critical of changes to how youth services are structured, funded, and delivered. They note the impact of funding cuts, changes towards targeted programmes over open-access youth work, regionally inconsistent provision, and local authorities changing to commissioners of local youth services rather than providers. The commission makes a strong call for a National Youth Policy Framework, which would include statutory obligation on central and local government to deliver youth services and an Ofsted-like inspection regime for youth organisations. They also call for an overhaul of funding arrangements, in which more funding is delivered with a longer-term focus and reaches grass-roots organisations, and a greater role for faith groups.

Boosting support in schools: They call for an ambition to have zero exclusions, to overhaul careers advice and PHSE education in schools, and have integrated CAMHS support available in schools. They also recommend providing education to young people in custody.

Increasing employment opportunities: The commission recommends increased employability support in schools and custody, as well as a greater role for apprenticeships.

Investment in community policing and review of drugs approach: The report recommends an increased focus on community policing and for every primary and secondary school to have a connected police officer. The commission acknowledges the negative impact of stop and search and calls for it to be reformed into an ‘intelligence-led’ tactic. They also recommend a comprehensive review of drugs legislation and policing in the UK.

Samuel Howell, Policy Officer