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Home Office launches Serious Violence Strategy

Home secretary Amber Rudd said early intervention is key

Published on 10th April 2018

A Serious Violence Strategy has been launched by the Home Office with a focus on early intervention to prevent young people getting involved in violent crimes.

Backed by £40m of government funding, the strategy identifies the changing drugs market – in particular the devastating impact of crack cocaine – as a key driver of the violence harming our communities and includes actions to tackle the issue of ‘county lines’ and its implications for drugs, violence and exploitation of vulnerable people.

Home secretary Amber Rudd said: “This strategy represents a real step-change in the way we think about and respond to these personal tragedies, these gruesome violent crimes which dominate the front pages of our newspapers with seemingly depressing regularity.

“A crucial part of our approach will be focusing on and investing more in prevention and early intervention.

“We need to engage with our young people early and to provide the incentives and credible alternatives that will prevent them from being drawn into crime in the first place. This in my view is the best long-term solution.

“Because what better way to stop knife crime than by stopping young people from picking up knives in the first place?” she said.

The strategy includes;

  • A new £11 million Early Intervention Youth Fund for community projects to help young people live lives free from violence.
  • £3.6 million to establish a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre.
  • A new Serious Violence Taskforce which will bring together the voluntary sector, local government, police and other key sectors to ensure the strategy is delivered effectively.

The strategy stresses the importance of early intervention to tackle the root causes of serious violence and steer young people away from crime in the first place, while ensuring the police continue to have the tools and support they need to tackle violent crime.

It states that about half the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime is due to improvements in police recording. For the remainder, drug-related cases seem to be an important driver. Crack cocaine markets have strong links to serious violence and evidence suggests crack use is rising in England and Wales due to a mix of supply and demand factors.

The strategy sets out how drug-market violence may also be facilitated and spread by social media, with a small minority of people using social media to glamorise gang or drug-selling life, taunt rivals and normalise weapons-carrying.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said the association welcomed the focus on early intervention but said the strategy yet provides little for local authorities to develop local responses. He explains: “ADCS welcomes efforts to steer vulnerable young people away from gangs and violent crime but we should resist the temptation to identify a single cause or remedy for the increase in senseless violence and loss of life London has experienced recently. We must also avoid labelling groups of young people as ‘troublemakers’.

“The new Strategy’s focus on prevention and early intervention is welcome, but we will need to read through the finer detail to understand the implications for services. It is important that we learn from the range of evidence-based community projects that already exist to maximise the impact of available funding for as many young people as possible such as the public health approach to reducing violence in Glasgow.

“The impact of austerity, cuts to youth services and across the public sector on the availability of positive activities for young people within their communities cannot be understated. Add to this staggering levels of child poverty and stubbornly high numbers of young people not in education or training, leaving young people with nowhere to go making them more vulnerable to exploitation by gangs. Prevention and early action is key, this must involve co-ordination of a wide range of services, including those to support families and young people, but also stimulating housing, employment opportunities and community facilities. The strategy emphasises the importance of local communities and partnerships yet provides little for local authorities to develop local responses,” he added.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said the strategy could only be delivered with additional funding.

“Council Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) have achieved huge success in working with and supporting young people to prevent them getting involved in crime, with an 85 per cent drop in First Time Entrants to the youth justice system and 74 per cent fewer young people in the average custodial population over the last decade.

“The challenge going forward will be sustaining this success, however it is not helpful that councils are still waiting to receive their youth justice grant allocations for 2018/19. This is vital funding used to support young people and help keep them away from criminality in the first place. This follows government funding for YOTs already being halved from £145 million in 2010/11 to just £72 million in 2017/18. 

“Councils also face significant rises in demand for urgent child protection work and with a children’s services funding gap that will reach almost £2 billion by 2020, councils are increasingly having to divert funding away from preventative work into services to protect children who are at immediate risk of harm.

“Only with the right funding and powers can councils continue to make a difference to people’s lives by supporting families and young people and help tackle serious violent crime in our local communities,” he concluded.

 

Serious Violence Strategy

 

 

 

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