Mayor Boris to support young black men in fight against youth crime
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has joined forces with the Metropolitan Police’s Black Police Association to help turn around the attitudes and behaviour of young people involved in or at risk of youth violence.
In London a disproportionate number of young black men are involved in or fall victim to violent crime. Between 2007 - 2009, 77 per cent of youth murder victims were Black, and 67 per cent of young offenders sentenced to Life in prison in London in 2008 - 2009 were Black. Working in partnership with the BPA who run successful youth programmes, the Mayor aims to help reach disaffected youth through the formation of a new mentoring foundation group tasked with recruiting 1,000 new adult male mentors in the capital for a major new project launching this autumn.
Leading the work of the foundation are Richard Taylor, who brings his youth diversionary experience from his acclaimed work at the Damilola Taylor Trust and Ray Lewis, who runs the successful East Side Academy, and has a strong track record in turning round the lives of hard to reach children. Both Richard and Ray have volunteered their time for free to take forward this vital work with youngsters.
The Mayor announced his plans today during a summit with community practitioners to discuss how continuing violence in London affects, in particular, young black men from the Caribbean and African communities, and steps that can be taken to address it through the second phase of work in the Mayor’s Time for Action youth plan.
Mayor Boris Johnson said: “There are a minority of youths who are wasting their lives through crime, gangs and violence and I hope through the combined hard work of the Black Police Association, Ray Lewis, Richard Taylor, and my office, we will show them that there is a much better path to take. Two years into my mayoralty, my commitment to tackling youth violence remains a top priority. The positive effects of the youth schemes I have started in places like the young offenders unit in Feltham are clear, but what is also crystal clear is that more urgently needs to be done. There is no magic solution to ending youth crime, but I am more determined than ever to use this new partnership to turn around the lives of as many troubled young people as possible. “
Bevan Powell, Deputy Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association said "We welcome the opportunity to work more closely with the Mayor on tackling violence amongst young people. It is essential that we provide role models and mentors for young people in inner cities as many, fall prey to negative influences. The causes of youth violence are complex and require a coordinated approach that includes not just the police, but schools, housing authorities and families. There is a need for robust social policy that starts to address the factors that lead to the levels of violence currently plaguing our streets."
Ray Lewis said: “Targeted mentoring reintroduces strong positive male role models to young black men who desperately need father figures. Single mums and primary schools just cannot cope, and as a result some of our young men are unfortunately being drawn into gangs and crime. Mentors can teach boys about what being a man is all about.They don’t need some criminal figure head to look up to when they have an inspirational male role model guiding them. My experience at Eastside has taught me that when you look at the bad boys you realise they're not that bad. What makes them bad is the group dynamic that produces a psychosis in our young men. Once you isolate that individual then you've got a real chance of influencing that individual.”
Richard Taylor: “I’m committed to helping bring a long-term solution to youth crime and I’m excited about the prospect of helping vulnerable youngsters through mentoring. For me there is nothing more important than addressing the devastation caused by young people carrying guns and using knives. I’m confident that by working with the Mayor’s Office, BPA and Ray we will make some real gains in the battle against youth crime.“
Notes to eds
1.The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report “Young Black People in the Criminal Justice System” (2007) noted that young black people are overrepresented at all stages of the criminal justice system – charge, remand, conviction and sentence.
2. The Black Police Association run the successful VOYAGE scheme (Voice Of the Youth And Genuine Engagement) that builds leadership skills for young Black people in crime hotspots across London. It seeks to develop an understanding of the surrounding environment, foster a sense of belonging in society, develop character and responsibility, change attitudes and perceptions of crime, increase trust and confidence in the police, awareness of violent crime etc, through a variety of strategies and themes. For more information visit www.metbpa.com.
3. For more information about the mentoring scheme please visit: www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/volunteering/public/types-of-volunteering/community