Mayor puts young victims at the heart of work to tackle knife crime

13 July 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today put London’s most vulnerable young victims at the heart of his plans to tackle knife crime as he announced £400,000 in funding for projects across the capital.

In the last two years knife crime in London has increased by 16 per cent, and the Mayor is determined to tackle this grave threat to young lives.

He has given the green light to the allocation of £400,000 for two London Resettlement Consortia projects which offer support for vulnerable young offenders across 12 London boroughs.

He has also revealed plans for a City Hall Knife Crime Summit aimed at giving young people a voice and bringing together experts, community members and project workers to find a better way of dealing with the problem and help stop young people from making the choices that lead them into violence.

Sadiq Khan and his Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, today visited specialist youth workers at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington to hear from those on the frontline trying to help vulnerable young victims move away from the lifestyle which led them into the path of danger and violence.

The Redthread Youth Violence Intervention Programme, funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), operates in all four of London’s Major Trauma Centres and has helped support over 800 young Londoners to date, eight per cent of whom were under 18 and not known to any agencies prior to their admission.

Sadiq Khan said: “Every young death is an utter tragedy, yet both knife crime and youth violence are growing problems. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old Londoner was stabbed to death just yards from my own home. As Mayor, and as a father of two teenage daughters, I am deeply concerned and determined to do everything I possibly can to help rid our communities of this terrible violence. We need to send a strong message that carrying a knife is completely unacceptable, and is more likely to ruin your life than to save it.

“Redthread youth workers are doing an incredible job helping young victims to move away from the circles that led to them getting hurt, but there is much more we can do. Alongside enforcement and tougher penalties for carrying knives, we are bringing together experts, services, schools, and community groups to tackle this problem together, and help prevent our children from making the terrible mistakes which so gravely threaten young lives in the capital.”

Sophie Linden will today lead a roundtable discussion bringing together police, health and community safety professionals to discuss the barriers and opportunities for tackling knife crime in London. What can be done differently? What needs to change? What more could be done. The aim of the roundtable will be to ensure these challenges and concerns inform the development of the summit this autumn.

Sophie Linden said: “Eight young people have lost their lives on the streets of London since the beginning of this year. That’s eight young people cut down in their prime.

"When it comes to serious youth violence, enforcement alone is not enough, and Redthread offers young people a ‘teachable moment’ and a chance to turn their lives away from the dangerous path they have gone down.

"As well as our work with the Met, we are working with the NHS, youth workers, health professionals, schools, local communities and families to do everything we can to prevent more needless deaths on our capital’s streets.”

New funding will extend the two victims-based London Resettlement Consortia projects for a further year. The projects launched in September 2015 following research commissioned by MOPAC which found around 40 per cent of young offenders had emotional and mental health needs due to previous victimisation that were not being addressed.*

The projects work with hard-to-reach young people, either released from custody or being managed in the community, across 12 boroughs from Waltham Forest and Redbridge to Lewisham and Croydon, to identify and address undetected post-traumatic stress and other psychological issues that may be causing anti-social and criminal behaviour.

MOPAC has committed funding for the Youth Violence Intervention Programme until March 2018 across all four Major Trauma Centres (St Mary's, The Royal London, King’s College Hospital and St George’s). The programme is also supported through Hospital charities, such as the Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s Major Trauma Centre Appeal. The charity raises funds for research, equipment and projects at the five hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, including St Mary’s.

Among those who have been helped at St Mary’s is 16-year-old Max. He arrived at A&E after being stabbed for the second time in a year. By engaging with Max, the Redthread team found that he had been excluded from college because of temper and concentration issues linked to his ADHD, and this was the root of his problem.

Dr Asif Rahman, consultant in adult and paediatric emergency medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I welcome the opportunity to show the Mayor of London the work that we are doing in partnership with Redthread to help young people who have been victims of violent crime and gang-related sexual violence and exploitation.”

“We in the hospital are in the ideal position to utilise that teachable moment when these young people come in as emergencies and are willing to listen and engage.  We want to help them break that cycle of violence and stop them being involved in potentially damaging behaviour to themselves and others. We want to form a bridge from the hospital into the community, supporting these young, often vulnerable people when they leave the hospital and hopefully make them stick with community programmes to ensure they leave a life of violence and hopefully don’t come back in a worse of state”

Work at St Mary’s hospital to tackle youth violence is supported through the Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s Major Trauma Centre Appeal. The charity raises funds for research, equipment and projects at the five hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, including St Mary’s.

Ian Lush, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare Charity, said: “We are proud to support our partner charity, Redthread, through our St Mary’s Hospital Major Trauma Centre Appeal. The Youth Violence Intervention Project is making a huge impact on young people’s lives in London and most importantly, the team are transforming young people’s futures.

“We have also recently given a grant of £3.2 million to improve the facilities at St Mary’s A&E. This work will bring the environment up to a standard which better reflects the very high quality of the clinical care provided.  We are pleased the charity has been able to make this significant investment in the Trust’s facilities.” 

MOPAC is also supporting a nationwide programme of work from the Institute of Community Safety (ICS), supported by the Home Office to help reduce gang violence. The project will offer support and training to local authorities, and MOPAC is funding London boroughs to access the programme free of charge.

Notes to editors

* MOPAC commissioned a report by Middlesex University: https://www.london.gov.uk/WHAT-WE-DO/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/mopac-publications/development-specialist-support-services-young

  1.  There has been a 16 per cent increase in knife crime with injury since May 2014. 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
  2.  The City Hall Knife Crime Summit is due to take place in October. Its key objective is to bring together stakeholders, partners and decision makers to consider the impact of knife crime in London. Areas of consideration will include: the youth and community voice – giving the young Londoners and communities a platform to voice their fears and concerns and working with victims;youth empowerment – how to involve our young people in shaping our responses to knife crime and understanding what concerns them most; prevention - what is working and not working; and engagement - through work with schools, youth service providers and Transport for London – what more can be done.
  3. 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. This programme was extended in March 2016 for victims of domestic and sexual violence, with advocates in place who can help intervene and offer young victims a way out. Originally a 12 month programme, the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) has secured further funding for Redthread from the Home Office Police Innovation Fund and will run the programme until March 2018, taking the total funding to £1.2m. 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.
  4. The Mayor has allocated £400,000 to two victims London Resettlement Consortia (LRC) projects, one in North East London and one in South East London. They offer cross-borough support for young people released from custody and young people managed in the community that have had traumatic experiences or been a victim of crime, abuse and violence. The North East London project covers Waltham Forest (lead borough), Enfield, Newham, Hackney, Redbridge and Islington with a clinical outreach focus which was developed according to local need and demand. In the last six months 68 per cent of young people have voluntarily engaged with the service. In South East London, Lewisham (lead borough), Lambeth, Southwark Croydon, Greenwich and Wandsworth are benefiting with a focus on workforce development. In these boroughs specialist training aims to improve the offer for young people with 60 practitioners in training, each working with three young people, and 24 operational managers fully trained to manage psychological trauma.
  5. Yesterday, the Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime, Sophie Linden attended the launch of a cross-party Youth Violence Commission, set up by Vicky Foxcroft, Labour MP for Lewisham and Deptford, following the murders of five young people in her constituency. Bringing together experts, insights and public opinion from throughout the UK, the commission will lead consultation and set out policy recommendations to reduce youth violence and exploitation.