20 August 2018
The Commons Home Affairs Committee is conducting a Serious Violence Inquiry into the effectiveness of the Government’s approach in combatting knife crime, gun crime and homicide and called for written evidence by 16 august 2018.
London Youth considers that effectively tackling youth violence should be among the highest public policy priorities for the United Kingdom and definitely for London. We welcome much of the Government’s strategy, but do not consider it to deliver the change required.
We consider that this will require a fundamentally different approach that brings together all relevant stakeholders – including the Government, devolved administrations, local authorities, the police, health authorities, the voluntary sector, local communities, and young people themselves – to effect real change. This systemic change should be informed by a public health model, focus on early intervention, and commit to sustained multi-agency collaboration on addressing youth violence and its root causes. Read our full response below.
We have compiled this response based on discussions at a consultation session with London Youth’s members and associate members, as well as members of the Tackling Youth Violence Network.
About the consultation
The inquiry is looking at the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, which was published in April. The inquiry wants to know about the effectiveness of the strategy, whether it lays out the correct balance between prevention and law enforcement, and whether sufficient resources have been committed to make it successful. They are also interested in how devolved administrations, such as the Mayor of London, should work with central government.
About the Serious Violence Strategy
The inquiry is looking at the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, which was published in April 2018. The strategy is the Home Office’s plan for addressing serious violence in the coming years. It includes new initiatives and commitment of funding (for example, the Early Intervention Youth Fund), as well as linking of existing or forthcoming government programmes (for example, the Department of Health & Social Care and Department for Education’s green paper on children and young people’s mental health).
The strategy does have a focus on young people and youth violence. There is a welcome focus on open access ‘prevention’ programmes for young people and some commitment of funding. However, the £11 million in the Early Intervention Youth Fund is only a good start, and it must be followed up with sustainable, long-term funding for prevention and early intervention programmes. Despite some references to working with the youth sector, the strategy does not include any plans for engagement or long-term service delivery with the youth or community sectors.
Tackling county lines and misuse of drugs (p. 47–56)
- £3.6 million for a new National County Lines Co‑ordination Centre
- £500,000 for new Heroin and Crack Action Areas
- Awareness campaign among professionals working with young people about criminal exploitation of young people (i.e., county lines)
- Additional support for young people at risk, including £175,000 of funding to build upon Mentor UK’s ‘Unplugged’ feasibility study
Early intervention and prevention (p. 57–68)
- £11 million for a new Early Intervention Youth Fund for youth organisations. MOPAC and Community Safety Partnerships can bid for funding for youth and community organisations who support early intervention and prevention activity in their areas
- Closer working between the police and the Department for Education and schools
- Refreshed guidance on and greater support for young people with mental ill health
- £7 million to develop a trauma-led policing model (in Wales)
- Continuing support for Young People’s Advocates, Troubled Families Programme in England (2015-2020), and £13 million over four years for the Trusted Relationships Fund
- Expanding the DIVERT model, Redthread’s Youth Violence Intervention Programme outside and within London, earlier access to the Department for Work & Pensions’ Work and Health Programme for young people at risk of being involved in gangs and serious violence
- Rolling out Enhanced Support Units within the youth secure estate and Liaison and Diversion services in police stations and courts
Supporting communities and partnerships (p. 69–78)
- Continuing the Community Fund for local initiatives to tackle knife crime (further rounds of $1 million in 2018/19 and 2019/20)
- #knifefree public campaign
- Greater focus for Police & Crime Commissioners and Community Safety Partnerships on serious violence in local areas
- Closer working between Police & Crime Commissioners and health authorities
- Supporting and connecting community organisations through the Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation Forum & Fund
Effective law enforcement and criminal justice response (p. 79–88)
- Continued support for Operation Sceptre
- Tightening legislation on possession of knives, corrosive substances, and firearms
- Developing a Victims Strategy
- Support available for victims of acid attacks
Other points of interest include a new Serious Violence Taskforce, reporting to an Inter-Ministerial Group and with representatives from national and local government, police and crime commissioners, health sector, education sector, and industry.