There is a belief that locking young people up and throwing away the key will solve the problem of violence on our streets. And if we choose to believe the images the media portray to us, the faces of this violent and lawless twenty-first century generation will only breed fear. But this generation, whether caught up in offending or not, are not animals, they are children with names, stories and futures.
October saw the first knife crime summit, bringing together police, experts and bereaved families to draw up a plan to tackle the “growing threat” of knife crime in the capitol. Hosted by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan told delegates that knife crime has increased a staggering 16% in London alone over the past two years. With longer and tougher sentencing (increase of 3.5 months since 2008), higher rates of immediate custody (increase of 7% since 2008) and targeted initiatives such as Operation Trident uncovering military grade weapons caches, it begs the question how have we just had a fourteenth young person fatally stabbed in London this year? (Monday 17th Oct – Wembley). The latest custody report shows that a total of 881 young people are incarcerated in Young Offenders Institutes (YOIs) this month (increase of 2.3% on last month).
Although custody should aways be the last resort, we are proud as The Liminality Group work to work with many of those vulnerable young people week in and week out through the valuable work of our Most Valuable Player (MVP) cognitive behavioural programme, delivered in partnership with The PYE Project. The programme is recognised as a credible intervention, which forms an integral element of the holistic approach, used by case managers within custody to address dynamic factors associated with offending. Based upon cognitive behavioural techniques and social learning theory, MVP targets factors relating to offending such as, impulsivity and low self-control, attitudes that support crime, pro-criminal social networks, poor emotional control and the management of anger.
MVP aims to prevent further offending by providing a series of ‘teachable moments’ for young people to examine their own thinking and behaviour and triggers to offending. The programme has been delivered to more than 150 young people and is currently being evaluated to provide strong evidence of its impact on young people. Watch this space for more details.
The root causes of violence within communities, especially violence involving children, has been researched nationally and internationally. Now is the time for significant resources to be directed towards developing and maintaining sustainable solutions over the next decade, enabling us to learn from what is working for further generations.
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