Claire Hubberstey, Chief Executive, Safer London
Josie Allan, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Missing People
In 2015-16 there were 6,290 victims of serious youth violence in London, recording a 4% increase on the previous year, and over a 20% increase on the 2012-13 figures. The capital has also seen an increasing number of young women as victims of serious youth violence, with a rise of 58% compared to four years ago being documented this year. In the period between January and June 2017, 24 people under the age of 25 were fatally stabbed in London. According to 2017 data from the ONS, in 2016 there were 32,448 knife attacks in England and Wales, an increase of 14% on previous years.
In the last few years, there has been an increase in initiatives, on both national and local levels, to tackle the recent rise on knife crimes. In August 2016, the Home Office introduced a ban on the sale, importation and manufacture of zombie knifes. In June 2017, it was announced that all London secondary schools will be offered knife detectors to check pupils. More recently, in July 2017, the Home Secretary announced plans to restrict the online sale of knifes and ban possession of dangerous offensive weapons on private property.
Moreover, in July 2017 the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Sarah Newton, announced an additional £99,000 funding for 2017-18 to bring partners together to tackle the issue of gangs. The funding follows a number of measures taken by the Government to reduce gang activity and protect children and young people who are being exploited.
Worryingly, according to a recent report by the APPG on Runaways and Missing Children (Briefing report on the roundtable on children who go missing and are criminally exploited by gangs, March 2017), children as young as eight or nine are regularly groomed by gangs for criminal exploitation, particularly for drug distribution. Although focusing mostly on young runaways, the report also reveals that children and young people from stable and economically better off families are also in danger of being groomed by urban criminal gangs.
This timely symposium will provide a vital opportunity for local authorities, children’s social care providers, employment advisers, voluntary and community organisations, the police, and criminal justice agencies to examine ways to support vulnerable children and young people; share best practice on assisting young people exit gang life, and reduce the level of serious youth violence on our streets.