Waltham Forest Council’s Violence Reduction Partnership will today (Thursday 25 April) bring together all agencies including the police, education, health, charities and the voluntary sector to pledge to do more to tackle violence in the borough.
Outlining their commitments – from the targeting of criminal hot spots in the borough, to a Life Skills resilience programme for 10,000 primary school children - the partners will work collectively with the people of Waltham Forest to do all they can to tackle crime and the factors which make young people more susceptible to violence.
Former Government advisor on anti-social behaviour and troubled families, Dame Louise Casey, spoke alongside the leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clare Coghill, at the launch event in Walthamstow. The pair were joined by MPs Stella Creasy and Iain Duncan-Smith, as well as senior officers from the Metropolitan Police.
The new partnership approach - informed in part by the public health approach to crime adopted in Glasgow in 2008 - led to a recent pilot in the St James Street area of Walthamstow which had seen a sharp rise in serious violence during 2018. Waltham Forest Council worked closely with the Metropolitan Police to reduce the level of criminal activity and anti-social behaviour in the area.
Over a six month period, the operation achieved 70 arrests; 15 knife seizures and a recorded 38 per cent decrease in knife crime in the area. There are currently 17 people awaiting sentencing as a result of this operation, which shows the success of working in close partnership to address criminal activity.
The Violence Reduction Partnership will work across four partnership groups, each with their own pledges and solutions. The four groups are as follows:
- To stop violent acts at source: working to pursue and prosecute those involved in violent crime, gang activity and Anti-Social Behaviour.
- To treat those exposed to violence: protecting those who victimised, abused and exploited through violent crime and gang activity.
- To support those vulnerable to violence: identifying those exposed to violence and supporting them early on, ending the cycle of violence.
- To strengthen community resilience: inviting all residents to build community networks, to encourage cooperation and support at a local level.
Amongst the pledges announced today, are:
- 10,000 primary school children will go through a Life Skills resilience programme between 2019 and 2022.
- Young Advisors will work to improve the relationship between young people and the police.
- Enhanced support will be provided for children identified as vulnerable during the transition from primary to secondary school.
- Greater support will be given for children exposed to early trauma, such as witnessing domestic violence, with swifter access to child and adolescent mental health services.
- Greater support will be given to children affected by criminal exploitation, such as young girls affected by county lines activity.
- Waltham Forest Council and Metropolitan Police will work together on a significant partnership targeting hot spots in the borough to address criminal activity and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB).
Alongside the lessons from the public health approach to crime adopted in Glasgow in 2008, Waltham Forest has also learnt from the independent study into gang activity in the borough ‘From Postcodes to Profits’, produced and published last summer by London South Bank University and commissioned by Waltham Forest Council. This study showed the changing behaviour of gangs in the borough and how they had moved away from postcode affiliations to a more ruthless business approach to dealing and distributing drugs.
Waltham Forest’s Gang Prevention Programme (GPP), which has run since 2011, also announced today that it has commissioned five new service providers to support young people seeking to leave gangs.
The new GPP service providers are as follows:
- Abianda works with young women affected by gangs and county line activity;
- Spark2Life will be recruiting and training local residents as community mentors, to support young people vulnerable to gang activity; as well as deploying youth workers to hot spots to work with young people involved in youth violence.
- Change Grow Live will support members wishing to leave gangs, supporting them in the community and as they exit prison.
- We Can Work Out will recruit and train residents to act as ‘Ask Me’ ambassadors, to address concerns around gang activity at a community level.
Dame Louise Casey DBE, former Victims’ Commissioner, said: “No parent should have to go to a morgue to identify the body of their child. The rise in violence we are seeing amongst our young people degrades us as a society. Waltham Forest’s Violence Reduction Partnership is a step in the right direction, addressing not just the symptoms, but the causes of violence amongst our young people, in a substantial bid to end it.”
Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “This is the number one concern for our residents and we all need to redouble our efforts and pledge to do more or we will continue to see young lives lost and communities devastated by the senseless violence we see too often on the streets of the capital.”