08.08.2019

PRIME MINISTER NEEDS TO LISTEN TO YOUNG PEOPLE IN KNIFE CRIME DEBATE

Young people directly affected by knife crime visited 10 Downing Street today (Thursday) to demand the new Prime Minister listens to their views on how to tackle the crisis.

They delivered a letter to Boris Johnson signed by more than one hundred young people alongside a 12-point manifesto outlining actions young people believe would make Britain’s streets safer.

The young people have worked with the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Knife Crime, supported by Barnardo’s and Redthread and chaired by Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones.

The manifesto is included in the APPG’s report entitled, There is No Protection on the Streets, None’, published today, about young people’s perspectives on knife crime.

The 12-point manifesto includes the need to tackle underlying causes of violent crime in communities – such as lack of housing, youth services and employment opportunities.

It calls for the Government to support young people who are involved in, or at risk of being involved in county lines gang activity. And also asks for more community police officers to be introduced to build relationships in neighbourhoods and help prevent crime before it happens.

The young people involved have requested an urgent meeting with the new PM to talk through the issue.

One of the young people delivering the letter is Barnardo’s service user Zak, from Redbridge, East London, who went into care aged 16. Earlier this year his younger brother was stabbed close to his school and one of his friends was murdered.

Zak, 24, is supported by Barnardo’s Redbridge Leaving Care service. He said:

“Knife crime has affected my family and what happened to my brother hurt me emotionally. I now look at the whole issue of youth violence a lot more seriously because it’s different to how it was when I was that age.

“Now I see the problem; now I see the danger, and I’m worried for young people aged from 14 to 21, because in my opinion, that is the age group which is at the greatest risk of knife crime.”

Last week a cross-party select committee of MPs called youth violence a ‘national emergency’, and claimed the Government’s response to-date has been ‘completely inadequate’.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in July revealed that knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high in 2018/19, up 8 per cent on the previous year.

Chair of the APPG, and Croydon Central MP, Sarah Jones said:

“Our new Prime Minister must take responsibility for solving the epidemic of serious violence facing our country. He needs to be clear this will be both a national and personal priority.

“The response to this emergency must be led from the very top, and the APPG’s new report shows that the voice of young people must be at the forefront. 

“Boris Johnson has suggested that knife crime can be solved simply by increasing stop and search, but the solutions proposed by young people today show he needs to think much bigger. I hope he listens and agrees to meet them in person.”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

“Caught up in the knife crime epidemic, these young people are demanding action so their lives are no longer blighted by violence.

“They are right to say that there is not one single solution to stopping the stabbings on our streets. As leaders in Government, parliament and charities, we must come together to help them by addressing the poverty of hope felt by many children and young people across the country, who see little or no chance of a positive future. 

“This starts with the new PM listening to their concerns and agreeing to meet them. They are the people most affected by the violence and their voices need to be heard.”

The APPG is concerned about cuts to youth services. Figures obtained by the group in May show the average council has cut real-terms spending on youth services by 40 percent over the past three years.

Redthread Chief Executive John Poyton said:

“Young people are the experts of their own lives and it is crucial that not only do we listen to what they have to say, but that their voices are central in shaping policies that affect them.

“All sectors of society must work together to tackle youth violence and fundamentally must include young people’s lived experience.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

The APPG report “There is No Protection on the Streets, None”: Young people’s perspectives on knife crime – is available here.

The letter to the Prime Minister written and signed by young people – is available here. 

12 points manifesto:

  1. Ensuring young people feel safe on the streets is important if they are to stop carrying knives.
  2. Work needs to be done to challenge the idea that carrying a knife is the norm.
  3. Schools need to provide better support to young people who are at risk of involvement in crime, those excluded from school need a safe place to go.
  4. Investment in youth services and mentors is key to helping young people escape violent lifestyles.
  5. We need to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime in communities such as lack of housing and unemployment.
  6. Gangs need to be prevented from using social media as a means of recruiting vulnerable young people.
  7. All media have a responsibility not to perpetuate myths that young people need to carry a knife or contribute towards young people becoming desensitised to violence.
  8. Introduce more community police officers who can build relationship and help prevent crime before it starts.
  9. Tackling the drugs market is a key part of tackling knife crime.
  10. The Government need to provide support to young people who are either already involved or a risk of becoming involved in county lines activity. There needs to be a clear strategy on how to help these victims of exploitation escape involvement with gangs.
  11. Custody should be used as a last resort – often it only serves to help young people become ‘better criminals’.
  12. Rehabilitation, particularly helping young people gain skills and access employment should be central to the youth justice system.

Quotes from the letter:

“We are glad the Government is finally becoming more aware of the problem. But more and more of our generation are still dying. More needs to be done, as soon as possible.

“We have got to start afresh with the way we approach the situation – it can’t be solved with one insular solution.”

“As Prime Minister we need you to make this problem your top priority, and we want to help you do so.

“We hope that you will accept our request to meet with you to talk through the issue.”​

07.05.2019

NEW RESEARCH DRAWS LINK BETWEEN YOUTH SERVICE CUTS AND RISING KNIFE CRIME

Research published today (Tuesday) suggests a growing link between cuts to youth services and the country’s knife crime epidemic.

Analysis of council youth service budgets and knife crime data since 2014 has found areas suffering the largest cuts to spending on young people have seen bigger increases in knife crime.

Figures obtained by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Knife Crime show the average council has cut real-terms spending on youth services by 40% over the past three years. Some local authorities have reduced their spending – which funds services such as youth clubs and youth workers – by 91%.

The APPG, supported by charities Barnardo’s and Redthread, obtained the figures on youth service budgets using Freedom of Information requests, which around 70% of councils replied to.

There was a 68% increase in knife offences recorded by police in England and Wales over the same period (from 25,516 in the year ending March 2014 to 42,790 in the year ending September 2018).

The new figures come ahead of a meeting hosted by the APPG in Parliament tonight. Young people from across the country will travel to Parliament to debate the effect of cuts to youth services in their areas, and how youth centres and other support for young people can help prevent knife crime, with MPs.

The top four worst hit local authority areas were City of Wolverhampton (youth services funding cut by 91%*), City of Westminster (91%), Cambridgeshire County Council (88%), and Wokingham Borough Council (81%).

Police forces serving these areas have also seen some of the highest knife crime increases – since 2013/14 there has been an 87% increase in knife crime offences for West Midlands Police, a 47% rise for the Metropolitan Police area (London), a 95% increase for Cambridgeshire Police, and a 99% increase for Thames Valley.

The research also reveals a 51% drop in the number of youth centres supported by local authorities since 2011, and a 42% drop in youth service staff over the same period. 88% of councils which responded had seen at least one youth centre in their area close.

Chair of the APPG, Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones, said:

“We cannot hope to turn around the knife crime epidemic if we don’t invest in our young people. Every time I speak to young people they say the same thing: they need more positive activities, safe spaces to spend time with friends and programmes to help them grow and develop.

“Our figures show how in areas where support for young people has been cut most, they are more at risk of violence. Youth services cannot be a ‘nice to have’. Our children’s safety must be our number one priority.

“The Government must urgently review its own funding for young people and consider setting a legal requirement for councils to provide certain youth services. We have requirements for post offices, why not youth clubs?”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

 “These figures are alarming but sadly unsurprising. Taking away youth workers and safe spaces in the community contributes to a ‘poverty of hope’ among young people who see little or no chance of a positive future.

“The Government needs to work with local authorities to ensure they have enough funding to run vital services and restore children’s sense of hope.

“But it’s not just a question of funding; money needs to be spent wisely. That’s why Barnardo’s is taking a radical new approach – working with national and local partners to co-design and deliver services that help children access support early, so they can prepare for the future they deserve.”

Redthread Chief Executive John Poyton said:

“Everyone from Government to the local community has signed up to adopting a public health approach to tackling violence and central to this approach is a long-term strategy including early intervention.  Young people are on a vulnerable transition between childhood and adulthood and youth services are crucial in ensuring they are able to reach out to trusted professionals to ask for help at the earliest opportunity.

These statistics of cuts to youth services and rises in violence highlight the need to ensure all young people have access to the support they need, both at the point when they recognise they need help and perhaps most importantly before they realise they do.” 

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime sent Freedom of Information requests to 154 local authorities in England (county councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs). 69% of councils (106) were able to provide data on youth services spending each year from 2014/15 to 2017/18. 51% of councils (79) were able to provide data on youth services spending each year from 2011/12 to 2018/19. 67% of councils (103) were able to provide data on the number of youth centres closed in their area since 2011. 46% of councils (76) were able to provide data on the number of youth centres supported by the local authority each year since 2011. 30% of councils (46) were able to provide data on the number of FTE youth services staff employed each year since 2011.

*City of Wolverhampton Council noted in its response: “Please note that the Council has invested in the [OnSide] Youth Zone which has also attracted significant private and grant support in place of local council run youth centres. Many more young people use the services at the youth zone than ever used youth centres so there is an arguably better provision for less public funding.”

The geographical areas for police forces are different than local authority boundaries so it is not possible to compare them like for like. However, analysis of responses from local authorities aggregated within the police force in which they are located reveals the following correlations between knife crime and:

  • cuts to numbers of youth centres supported (funded) by local authorities;
  • overall number of youth centre closures in a local authority area
  • cuts to numbers of full-time equivalent employees working on youth services for local authorities; and
  • overall cuts to youth services spending;

About Redthread

Redthread is a youth work charity whose vision is a society in which all young people lead healthy, safe, and happy lives.

Redthread supports the holistic wellbeing of young people by delivering innovative interventions, personal support, and bridging of health services for young people aged 11-24 through their Youth Violence Intervention Programme, Well Centre, across London, Nottingham and Birmingham.

To find out more visit redthread.org.uk or @redthreadyouth on Twitter

About Barnardo’s

Last year 301,100 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.

We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.

Visit barnardos.org.uk to find out how you can get involved.

Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605

About Sarah Jones MP

Sarah Jones chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime. She is a member of the Labour Party and has been the Croydon Central MP since the 2017 General Election. She was appointed as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Housing in May 2018.

30.10.2018

CHILDREN EXCLUDED FROM SCHOOL AT SERIOUS RISK OF KNIFE CRIME 

Exclusive research for Barnardo’s and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime reveals children who have been excluded from school may be at serious risk of involvement in knife crime and youth violence.

Barnardo’s, the UK’s leading children’s charity, surveyed all local authorities in England (via a Freedom of Information Request) and discovered one in three who responded have no vacant places in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), potentially leaving children vulnerable to violence and criminal exploitation.

And YouGov polling, commissioned by Barnardo’s reveals that the majority of parents are concerned about the increase in knife crime and serious youth violence in Britain. 72% of parents (of children aged 18) and under think that excluded children are more at risk of being involved in knife crime and serious youth violence.

Growing evidence shows that excluded children who are not offered a full-time place in a PRU are at increased risk of involvement in criminal activity.

Today’s figures follow a 56% rise in exclusions since 2014 and growing concerns over rising ‘unofficial’ exclusions, causing a crisis in support for vulnerable excluded pupils.

Barnardo’s is working with youth health charity Redthread and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Knife Crime, chaired by Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones, to investigate the root causes of knife crime.

An expert panel, including the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield will give evidence to the APPG in Parliament today on how to break the link between exclusions and youth violence. Ahead of the meeting Barnardo’s is calling for the Government to urgently increase high-quality support for excluded children, to ensure they stay in full-time education.

Data obtained by Barnardo’s, under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that ‘alternative provision’ for excluded children is at breaking point.

Forty-seven of the councils across England which responded revealed they had no vacant spaces in state pupil referral units as of 1 July 2018 (PRUs).

Even where there is space, there is a postcode lottery in terms of the quality of education they will receive.

Nationally almost one in five spaces are in alternative provision that Ofsted has rated inadequate or requires improvement.

And an excluded child in the North East is around eight times as likely to attend an ‘inadequate’ provision (46%) as the national average (6%).

Meanwhile, YouGov polling reveals the majority of parents (54%) think more children are becoming involved in knife crime and serious youth violence compared to last year.

77% of parents who think these are increasing or remaining consistent are worried about the problem, while 72% of all parents surveyed think children who are excluded from school are more at risk of these problems. And 65% of parents think there isn’t currently enough support to reduce the risk of excluded children getting involved in knife crime and serious youth violence.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

“Preventing serious youth violence is “everyone’s business” – and schools along with Police, charities and others have a key role to play. Exclusion must be a last resort, and all children must have access to high quality full-time education, that gives them the best possible chance of achieving good grades, and staying safe from harm.   

“We know children excluded from mainstream schools are at serious risk of being groomed and exploited by criminal gangs.

“We urge the Government to help schools to reduce the number of children who are excluded, and improve the quality of Alternative Provision, so vulnerable young people get the help they need to achieve a positive future.”

Sarah Jones, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime and MP for Croydon Central, said:

“Knife crime is at the highest level on record, this is a public health crisis and our schools are on the frontline.

“Exclusions are rising and in many cases there is literally nowhere for those children to go. This is heartbreaking. Schools need resources to support pupils through difficult periods. Too many children are being socially excluded and marked as failures, with tragic consequences.

“Professionals talk about the ‘PRU to prison pipeline’. The system is failing these young people.”

Redthread Chief Executive John Poyton said:

“Youth violence is one of the many health inequalities faced by young people today. As with other health issues, it is essential we diagnose the root causes of why young people become caught up in cycles of violence.

“This research highlights that lack of educational engagement is one of these root causes and can all too often lead to young people becoming involved in serious youth violence.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

The research was undertaken ahead of a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime on 30th October, which will be discussing the link between school exclusions and youth violence.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4067 adults, of which 942 were parents of children aged 18 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 18th October 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Following Barnardo’s Freedom of Information request we received responses (with appropriate data held) from just under 80% of English local authorities, within the FOI deadline. A small proportion did not hold the data required and others simply did not respond in the Statutory FOI deadline.

Official DfE figures from August show exclusions have risen by 56% since 2014. DfE national tables ‘Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England’. There were 7,720 occasions in 2016-17 compared to 4,950 in 13/14.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that knife crime has risen by 54% since 2014: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingjune2018

A report by St Giles Trust commissioned by the Home Office, entitled ‘Evaluation of County Lines Pilot Project’, looked at the issue of children running drugs between London and Kent. It found 100% of the children involved were not in mainstream education and were either in alternative provision (PRU) or not in any form of education.

A supporting ‘County Lines Scoping Report’ from St Giles’ Trust and JH consulting looked at national approaches to county lines and found that school exclusions ‘appear to be a highly significant trigger point for the escalation of county lines involvement for children.’

An IPPR report ‘Making the difference: Breaking the link between school exclusion and social exclusion’ found that the number of pupils educated in schools for excluded pupils is five times higher than the number of officially permanently excluded pupils.

About Redthread

Redthread is a youth work charity whose vision is a society in which all young people lead healthy, safe, and happy lives. 

Redthread supports the holistic wellbeing of young people by delivering innovative interventions, personal support, and bridging of health services for young people aged 11-24 through their Youth Violence Intervention Programme, Well Centre, and education programmes across London, Nottingham and Birmingham.

To find out more visit redthread.org.uk or @redthreadyouth on Twitter

About Barnardo’s

Last year 301,100 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.

We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.

Visit barnardos.org.uk to find out how you can get involved.

Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605

About Sarah Jones MP

Sarah chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime. She is a member of the Labour Party and has been the Croydon Central MP since the 2017 General Election. She was appointed as Shadow Minister for Housing in May 2018.

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