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Croydon’s young people choose positive futures

Monday 23rd July 2018

Over 200 young people attended Croydon Youth Summit on Saturday 21st July 2018 to share their views on knife crime. 

The speakers included Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, who praised Croydon for its partnership work in tackling youth violence, which he held up Met wide as ‘good practice’.
The 11-24year-olds put their questions and concerns to him, and to a wide range of senior borough representatives, including, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Croydon Council Leader, Tony Newman and MPs Sarah Jones and Steve Reed.

Gwenton Sloley from Crying Sons (an organisation set up to support boys and men caught up in gangs and serious violence) was also there to offer support, along with, Councillor Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities. Councillor, Alisa Flemming, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Learning and William Awomoyi – Croydon Youth Mayor.

The free event, at BRIT School, was organised by Croydon BME Forum, with support from Croydon Council, 20 young people and community organisations and a network of professional services who support young people. 

Councillor Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities, said: “Working together with Croydon BME Forum, CVA and the many other voluntary groups who are supporting young people in Croydon is making a difference.”

The summit was also an opportunity to raise awareness of the council’s Choose Your Future campaign, which aims to unite Croydon against serious youth violence, and encourage young people to make positive choices.

Croydon BME Forum CEO, Andrew Brown, said: “Why young people get involved in violent crime is complex, and the Youth Summit gave them the chance to come together and express their concerns, which included peer pressure and poor parenting.

“Follow ups will include working with the Youth Mayor and other young people to engage with harder to reach young people.There are also plans for another summit during term time, which will include parents.” The summit was funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), as part of a £50,000 grant that the BME Forum secured to support 11-24 year olds away from knife crime and serious youth violence.”

Some of the key discussion points to emerge from the Summit included:

* The complexities associated with why people get involved in violent crime could not be put down to a single factor or reason. It is likely to be a combination of factors. However, reasons given ranged from peer pressure to poor parenting to over zealousness of some police officers using ‘stop and search’ in a heavy-handed way to poverty and cuts in police services.

* There was a particular concern that the image of violent youth crime was somehow particular to the black community, specifically, black boys.

* Some people felt that ‘snitching culture encouraged by the police’ will not work because there may not be the support for those informants. Police were keen to express the need for greater community support in solving crimes.

* Addiction theory was thought to be an area of exploration as this offers an explanation linked to medical conditioning in the same way one can become addicted to drugs; that is, violence begat violence until it becomes a ’craving’.

* The absence of maternal and paternal influenced was said to be another factor leading to negative outlook and outcomes for some (i.e. a mental health perspective).

* The high level of exclusion, ‘leaving many to wonder the streets looking for something to do’ was yet another reason put forward.

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