Police and schools in drive to keep young Londoners safe
Steering young Londoners away from gangs and radicalisation was on the agenda today at the first major conference to ensure closer working between the police and schools.
The Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, today revealed findings from Youth Matters, a new survey of 9,492 young Londoners about their experiences of crime, due to be published later this year by the Mayor’s Office of Policing And Crime (MOPAC). The majority of the young people (81 per cent) who responded to the survey had never been victims of crime. However the top three issues that affected young Londoners in school daily or regularly were violence and fights (27 per cent); bullying (24 per cent) and people stealing (21 per cent). The survey also revealed that perceived pressure to join a gang was marked for those who had been victims of crime (21 per cent) and attendees or former attendees of Pupil Referral Units (31 per cent).
In the first event of its kind, and organised by MOPAC, Stephen Greenhalgh and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe came together with over 300 teachers, head teachers and education specialists to look at how they can better tackle these issues, and ensure that young people feel confident and secure both inside and outside of school.
The Mayor, MOPAC and the Met are already working on a variety of initiatives to steer young people away from crime. The Mayor’s London Crime Prevention Fund is financing 77 prevention and intervention projects over a four-year period, including gang initiatives, substance misuse initiatives and projects focused on personal safety. The London Kicks programme, a joint £1m project between the Premier League and MOPAC uses football and positive activities to reach their potential, and MOPAC and the Met are spending £6.8million this year to combat gang and youth violence. In addition, the Mayor and the Met successfully lobbied Government to introduce a new knife crime offence. As a result, a new two-strike rule has been introduced resulting in those caught with a knife for a second time receiving an automatic custodial sentence.
Young Londoners are interested in what the police do, with 23 per cent of survey respondents interested in becoming a Police Cadet. The Voluntary Police Cadets scheme is a uniformed voluntary organisation which plays an important part in supporting and protecting young Londoners at risk of becoming involved in crime, or from being socially excluded. It continues to thrive, with over 3,700 cadets in the capital.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing, said: ‘Teachers play a key role in young Londoners’ lives, and it’s vital that we work with and support them to keep our young people safe. The work we’re doing is already driving down crime and supporting individuals out of gangs and into better lives. However, there is still more to do to prevent gang violence and it is critical that we work together more effectively to protect young people both inside and outside school’.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe said: ‘I would firstly like to thank the head teachers for joining us today. It is important to me that we build a strong working relationship between the Metropolitan Police, MOPAC and the teachers within schools across London to keep young Londoners safe.
‘There is no group that is more important in London than its children - its young adults. They are the future of this city and as such we have a great deal to do together to keep our young people safe. The schools are one of the Met’s best opportunities to build trusting relationships for the future.’
Notes to editors
- The Youth Matters survey was carried out by MOPAC between October and December 2014. The full survey will be published at the end of October 2015. Extracts can be seen here: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Youth%20Matters%20-%20Data%20tables.pdf
-76 per cent of survey respondents said they felt safer seeing known police officers patrolling, highlighting the positive impact of engagement by local police officers.
- Since 2012, the Trident Gang Command has supported more than a 30 per cent reduction in knife and gun crime across the capital.
-MPS have undertaken almost 10,000 weapons searches in the last 9 months.
- More information on Volunteer Police Cadets, and how to sign up, can be found on the Met website: http://content.met.police.uk/Site/cadets
-There are 3,762 cadets in London, as of the end of June 2015.
- MOPAC funds a wide range of crime prevention and community safety projects across the capital through the London Crime Prevention Fund, which last year totalled £18m. These include:
•London Premier League Kicks: MOPAC has worked with the Premier League and committed £200,000 funding over the next two years for this football youth engagement programme designed to engage young people (aged 12 to 18 years) on the periphery of gangs. They take part in a range of constructive activities such as workshops and mentoring to build understanding of risky lifestyle choices, trust in the police and also create routes into education, training and employment. More than 1,300 young people have taken part, with 800 either finding a job or being signposted into further education by the programme.
•Positive Punch: MOPAC is providing £160,000 funding over four years to support Positive Punch, a multi-agency project in Camden supporting young people involved in antisocial behaviour or at risk of crime by providing training opportunities, sports and leisure activities and giving young people a voice in the wider community.
-Further information on projects can be found at: https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/our-work/crime-prevention/london-crime-prevention-fund