Mayor extends services for victims of gangs and domestic violence

09 March 2016

A specialist anti-gangs project which has helped more than 600 young people in the capital in the last year is to be expanded to help other victims of violence, with funding from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The Mayor announced today a further £345,000 investment in the successful initiative, which stations specialist youth workers at four major hospitals -  King’s College, St Mary’s, St George’s and The Royal London - to work with young victims of gang crime being treated there, to extend it for a further year. The project will also expand to offer similar support to young victims of domestic violence at the critical moment of hospital admittance, which has been proven to increase the chances of young people leaving their violent lifestyle behind and help break the cycle of reoffending.

The ground-breaking project launched for gang victims a year ago, in partnership with the youth charity Redthread, and has already helped more than 600 young people across the capital, 80 per cent of which were male and around two thirds had been stabbed with a knife. Just under 10 per cent of those helped were under the age of 18 and had not been known to any agencies prior to their admission. This valuable service is being extended for victims of domestic violence in conjunction with Solace Women’s Aid, with expert domestic violence advocates who can help intervene and offer young victims a way out.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP said: “Knife crime in London is at its lowest in seven years, but every young Londoner hospitalised by gangs and violence is one too many, and a problem we take extremely seriously. Since 2008, we have pioneered a range of schemes to help young people out of gangs and enforcement action to take knives off out streets, but more needs to be done. These specialist workers, at the emergency frontline, are helping to break the cycle of reoffending, offer young people the support they need to seek a way out of violent lifestyles and making London safer for everyone.”

John Poyton, Redthread Chief Executive Officer, said: "Having enjoyed 10 years of youth violence intervention in the A&E environment with little funding available, it has been incredibly refreshing to work with the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime, whose innovative commissioning has enabled a step change in the public health approach to violence, enabling us to utilise the 'Teachable Moment' so that many more young people can break their cycles of violence - when they are reachable in the Major Trauma Centres across London."

LJ Winterburn, Solace Operations Director, said: “Our new partnership with Redthread has given us the opportunity to offer support to young people who would not ordinarily access our services. We are seeing young people who are experiencing domestic abuse, child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation and supporting them to recognise this is wrong and there are ways out."  

The Mayor has overseen a dramatic programme of intervention to help tackle gang violence, and since 2008 knife crime in London has fallen by around 25 per cent. This includes the introduction of the Trident Gang Command in 2012, and the £1.5m London-wide gang exit service launched last month to help vulnerable young people transform their lives with specialist mentoring and support. Last summer he launched the first £5m pan-London Domestic Violence Service, for domestic violence victims across the city, which received 2,195 referrals within its first six months. He has also led a dramatic increase in the number of hospital emergency departments sharing data with police to help cut crime and reduce violence, now up from 4 to 19.

Today, the Mayor joined police officers on the beat in Bexley, and thanked them for their hard work in helping to drive down neighbourhood crime and make London’s neighbourhoods safer. Across London, there have been 75,000 fewer victims of the seven key neighbourhood crimes since 2012. Last month, he crowned the East Wickham officers Safer Neighbourhood Team of the Year at the Excellence in Total Policing Awards. Over nine months in 2014*, they spoke to almost every resident in their ward face to face and achieved 100 per cent Neighbourhood Watch coverage. Throughout January and February 2015, there was not a single burglary on their patch, and the wards now have among the lowest crime figures in Bexley.

*  April - December 2014

A case study:

A 20 year old male was brought into the hospital suffering from 3 stab wounds to his back and legs. On arrival he was met by the medical teams and one of the Redthread youth workers.

During his time in hospital he disclosed that he had recently been charged with possession of a bladed article and was now working with the probation team. As a result of this offence his mother had asked him not to return home. This meant that at the time he attended the hospital he did not have an address or a place to return to on discharge.

The Redthread team worked with the family, discussing the options and time frames of the housing options that the young man could be faced with. His mother allowed him to return to the family home, on the condition that he was actively looking for accommodation.

The youth worker spent time visiting the young man on the wards, talking to him about his options and involving him in phone calls with outside agencies regarding housing. An appointment was made with the borough supported housing team for a week after the young man was to be discharged.

On discharge the youth worker stayed in touch with the family and the young man. The worker attended the housing meeting with the young person who was put forward to be considered for a supported housing placement. The young man however was also keen to do more to get himself away from the trouble in his area. He consented for a referral to a skills development course with a partner organisation in a centre far away from his area, thus encouraging him to meet people outside of his area.

This young man moved into his accommodation on a weekend and messaged the youth worker stating “I’m really excited about the move and my new home.” His aim now that he has a secure base to call home is to finish his probation, and then complete his course, working with his key worker there to find employment.

 

Notes to editors

-         Redthread is a collaborative youth work charity, connecting with partners across London to provide vital support for young people in their transition into adulthood. It aims to keep young people healthy, safe and happy through a series of innovative programmes.

MOPAC has commissioned Redthread to expand and roll out their pioneering Youth Violence Intervention Programme across London. This programme provides an innovative dimension to the support available to victims of serious youth violence by embedding youth workers alongside clinical teams in London’s Major Trauma Centre hospitals. The youth workers engage with victims presenting at A&E with assault-related injuries, gunshot wounds, stabbings, and those who report having been sexually exploited, to help them cope, recover and break the cycle of violence and exploitation.

Between April 2015 and February 2016 Redthread had worked with 653 victims of serious violence and sexual exploitation, including 57 young people under 18 years old who are not known to any statutory agency.

-         Solace Women’s Aid is an innovative, grass-roots charity providing practical and emotional support to over 5,000 survivors of violence in London each year. Solace manages refuges across London, providing safe accommodation for women and children. Their refuges include the only specialist Irish Traveller refuge in the UK and one for women with complex needs. Solace provides a range of services, including advice and advocacy; counselling; Irish Traveller outreach; family and children’s services and North London Rape Crisis. They also provide a legal service, and undertake research and policy work. They focus on supporting women and children but incorporate smaller capacity services for male survivors in several London boroughs. They also work in partnership with specialist providers to address perpetrator behaviour. Solace’s services are a life-line and a catalyst for positive change, empowering women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence to stay safe, rebuild relationships and live fulfilled and independent lives.

-        The commissioning of these interventions is made possible through partners working in collaboration to share data from Emergency Departments with Local Authorities and the wider Community Safety Partnership through London’s  SafeStats database. As part of the Mayor’s commitment to improving Emergency Department (ED) data sharing across the capital and further to MOPAC’s summit on information sharing in January 2016, MOPAC is hosting a conference on 9th March: ‘Information Sharing to Tackle Violence - Anonymised Emergency Department Data Sharing and Youth Violence Intervention Programme in Major Trauma Centres’. This brings together professionals from policing, healthcare and local government to learn about and discuss the work underway in London to tackle violence within a health setting, as well as demonstrating the progress made on the Information Sharing to Tackle Violence programme.

-         For the MOPAC gangs dashboard please visit: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/data-and-research/crime/gangs-dashboard

-         For the MOPAC domestic violence dashboard please visit: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/data-and-research/crime/domestic-and-sexual

-         The East Wickham and St Michaels Safer Neighbourhood teams, led by Inspector Paul Sanders, were crowned Safer Neighbourhood Team of the Year by the Mayor last month at the Excellence in Total Policing Awards.