Knife crime is at the top of young people’s concerns in East Sussex

28/03/2019

At the end of 2018 the results of the UK Youth Parliament consultation ‘Make Your Mark’ were announced outlining the priorities for young people up and down the country. 17 schools across East Sussex took part in the survey which equated to over 12,000 total votes.

Wealden District Council organised an event (22nd March 2018) to explore further the top 5 priorities as voted for by 11-18 year olds. These priorities were: knife crime with 2406 votes; Mental Health with 1889; Homelessness with 1600; Equal Pay for Equal Work with 1451 and End Period Poverty with 1232.

Each priority was assigned a facilitator to run a 40 minute workshop with the young people to inform, educate and stimulate debate on the topics that mean the most to them. REBOOT Programme Manager, Christopher Varrall was chosen from the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner to facilitate the workshop on Knife Crime.

Commenting on the workshop and launch of REBOOT, Christopher said:

“It was great to have the opportunity to speak to young people in Sussex about the dangers of carrying knives and the repercussions that follow. Many of us underestimate just how tuned in young people are to the issues society faces, so it is refreshing that this consultation has given this age group an opportunity to raise their concerns.

“The REBOOT programme, which launches on the 1st April this year, will bolster diversionary activities for young people across Sussex and strengthen our community safety partnerships. It will give police and partners the opportunity to engage positively with under 18s at risk of committing serious violence and those who have already been involved in low level criminality.

“It will carry on giving young people a voice, deterring them from getting involved in criminality and protecting our most vulnerable.”

Sussex PCC, Katy Bourne who funds the programme comments:

“Nationally and locally we are seeing increases in serious violence and organised crime groups with vulnerable young people being targeted and exploited to carry out their criminal biddings, including carrying knives. This is why I bid for funding from the Government’s Early Intervention Youth Fund and successfully secured nearly £900k to implement this programme across Sussex.

“Too often young people, many from challenging backgrounds, fall into the ‘wrong crowd’ and focus too heavily on the negatives in their life with no positive distractions. This then makes them prime vulnerable targets. Early Intervention and building trust with young people is key to preventing this outcome and will form the basis of the REBOOT model over the next year of funding.”

Adam Chugg, Chair of Wealden Strategic Partnership comments:

“This event achieved two very important things. Firstly, it provided local young people with a forum to express their views on the issues of greatest importance to them, with knife crime being one of their major priorities. Secondly, it brought the young people together with the key decision-makers and agencies who are best placed listen to their views and learn from them to make a difference. As a partnership, we believe such a collaborative approach, with the involvement of local young people, provides the best way for finding solutions for building a better, more connected community in the future.”

Hattie Pemberton, pupil from Heathfield Community College comments:

"The workshop was well organised and informed. We had plenty of time to ask questions and to understand in more depth what knife crime actually was and recognise the hard work the police and other organisations were doing to stop this major issue. They gave us lots of information about knife crime but also where to go and see if we had any questions. We had great discussions which opened some very challenging questions."

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