Mayor to fund more specialist youth workers in hospital A&Es

05 January 2018
  • £1.4m investment to help turn young Londoners away from knife crime
  • Specialist youth workers to be provided in A&Es as well as Major Trauma Centres
  • Part of Sadiq’s robust and comprehensive knife crime strategy

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today confirmed plans to provide more youth workers to more hospital A&E departments, to help steer young Londoners who have been involved in knife crime away from violence in the future.


Sadiq is determined to do everything in his power to tackle the scourge of knife crime.


When young people who have been involved in gang crime, revenge attacks or had their own weapons turned on them arrive at hospital suffering knife, gun and assault-related injuries, evidence has shown that they are at their most receptive to changing their behaviour. 

Sadiq is investing a further £1.4 million to increase resources at this crucial point to help these young people realise that carrying a weapon is more likely to endanger their lives than save them, and drive down knife crime in the capital.


The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) has funded youth workers in London’s four Major Trauma Centres since 2015, providing specialist youth services for victims of knife crime, serious violence and sexual exploitation when they arrive at hospital with knife, gun and assault-related injuries. 

Between 2015 and 2017, 990 young people across London who suffered serious violence were supported by this service, provided by youth charity Redthread. 

91 per cent were male and around two thirds had been stabbed, with 30 per cent not in employment, education or training. Where six-month follow-ups have been conducted, 46 per cent of cases saw a reduced involvement in violence.


Sadiq wants more young people to have the chance to turn their lives around this way reducing the risk of prolonging the cycle of violence. 


The funding will expand the successful scheme beyond Kings, St George’s, St Marys and the Royal London hospitals to other A&E departments which treat high numbers of knife-related injuries in the capital. They will offer holistic and practical support in areas including mental health, housing, education or employment, as well as referrals into other agencies.


Work will be carried out over the coming months to determine a provider and delivery model for these services, and identify which A&E departments will host them. 


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The battle against knife crime is one which must be fought from every corner, and our hospitals provide a unique moment to engage with and support young people who have been affected by it, falling victim to a lifestyle they are struggling to see a way out of. 


“Youth support in Major Trauma Centres has already made a difference to hundreds of young Londoners, helping them choose a different path away from violence. We know many young people carry weapons out of fear, and this programme is doing great work in spreading the message that picking up a knife is more likely to ruin your life than save it. By expanding this work into A&Es, we can reach even more, offering them help when they most desperately need it.


“I am doing everything I can to tackle this scourge on our city, but we all have a responsibility to give our young people the best chance in life. The Government must stop shirking theirs, and urgently deliver the funding necessary to tackle the root causes of violent crime and provide vital services if we are to bring an end to the tragic deaths we have seen on our streets this year.”


John Poyton, CEO at Redthread said: “Through MOPAC funding our health approach to tackling violence we have been able to support young victims of violence across London’s Major Trauma Centres. We meet vulnerable young people in A&E departments and on the wards, in the Teachable Moment - a crucial moment of self-reflection and a potential catalyst for change. In this moment of vulnerability, the Redthread youth workers build rapport with the young person, mentor and support them to make long-term positive plans to break away from cycles of violence and offending.


“One of those helped by Redthread is Tyrique*, aged 19,  after he had been stabbed multiple times. Tyrique suffered a traumatic childhood, missed a lot of school, and was without a stable home from the age of 14. He had attended a number of other A&Es in his teens because of violent injuries. He was sofa surfing having recently left custody, with no resettlement plan, no job or education and had no support from any other services. During his stay in hospital the youth worker used the Teachable Moment to explore his motivation for change and empower him to think about what he wanted to happen next. At the point of discharge Redthread secured a place for him in a specialist gang-exit housing unit with on-site mentoring, got him registered with a GP and accessing trauma-informed therapy. At his review Tyrique told his youth worker "You believed me when I said I wanted to change.'"


Dr Asif Rahman, consultant in adult and paediatric emergency medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Working at one of London’s four major trauma centres we have had the benefit of having a specialist youth violence intervention service for over three years now. The partnership between Redthread and healthcare has been a great success for both patients and hospital staff, improving how we manage and care for our patients who have been involved in knife crime positively.  The service is not just benefiting our major trauma patients but also local patients attending who are victims of lower level violence and also sexual exploitation. Knowing this, expansion of these services into all A&Es will only be a benefit to patients and the A&Es.”


The investment is part of the Mayor’s full package of tough and comprehensive measures set out in his Knife Crime Strategy which provided an additional £625,000 for knife and gang crime projects taking total spending to £7million.

Since the strategy’s publication in June:

  • During Operation Winter Nights, which ran from November until December 2017, the Met made over 900 arrests and took more than 350 weapons off the streets – including 278 knives, 61offensive weapons and 20 firearms. The total number of arrests included 334 arrests following stop and searches.
  • Every single London borough now has a bespoke knife crime action plan created in partnership with the Met police.
  • Every school in London can now receive a knife wand, to help keep young people safe and prevent knife crime at school. 76 schools have already taken up the Mayor’s offer, and his Deputy for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, wrote again to schools reminding them of how they can obtain a wand if they would like one.
  • The Mayor hosted an Education Knife Crime Summit in October 2016, bringing together Ofsted, education leaders, the Met police and Transport for London as well as parents and young people affected by knife crime, to collaborate on how to best tackle the problem in schools, including the development of a new downloadable toolkit that will offer guidance on how to identify those at risk.
  • The Mayor is working closely with Ofsted and headteachers to improve the actions taken by schools to prevent knife crime, and support students and parents in the event of an incident.
  • The Mayor is working to increase the number of Safer Schools Officers across the capital, to engage with pupils and drive down crime in schools.
  • In November, MOPAC and the Met hosted a retailers’ workshop to discuss what more the business community can do to reduce knife crime. Attendees included representatives from Business Crime Reduction Partnerships, Business Improvement Districts, Trading Standards, Local Police, national retailers, independent retailers, the British Retail Consortium and British Independent Retailer Association.
  • £250,000 of community seed funding has been made available to community groups and grass-roots anti-knife initiatives across London, to fund work with young people preventing and protecting them from knife crime.
  • MOPAC is creating the London Knife Crime Dashboard which will be publicly available. This will be one of a number of dashboards that the public and stakeholders can use access and interpret data on a number of types of crime.
  • The Mayor’s first anti-knife crime media campaign, London Needs You Alive, launched in November. The campaign brings together role models and social media youth ‘influencers’ to encourage young people away from carrying a knife, focusing on their talent and worth to the capital. With hundreds of thousands of social media followers between them, leading grime artist Yungen, MC Bossman Birdie, photographer Tom Sloan and urban poet Hussain Manawer are among those supporting it.


Notes to editors

  1. The Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy was published in June
  2. MOPAC provided £1.2m from 2015-2018 for the programme, and has committed a further £622,668 in 2018/19 and £800,721 in 2019/20 from the Victims’ Fund to further develop it. £280,000 of this is committed to fund the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) provision within the Major Trauma Centres, which is provided by Solace Women’s Aid.
  3. MOPAC’s current grant agreement with Redthread to support the provision of specialist youth support to young victims of violence in London’s four Major Trauma Centres – Kings, St George’s St Marys and Royal London – ends in March 2018.

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