Serious youth violence was a key focus of the Lambeth Equality Commission, which challenged the council to find new ways of tackling youth violence and reduce the impact it has on Lambeth’s young people. We want to go even further than that, setting ourselves the aspiration that all “young people in Lambeth should be free from violence”.
The council will achieve this by developing the borough’s first “Tackling violence against young people” strategy. This will adopt a new approach to the issue by addressing the fundamental risk factors which cause violence to occur in the first place, based on the public health approach - rather than purely enforcement, diversion and intervention - as we have previously. It will be the first time Lambeth as a borough brings together all its work into a single place with a single vision and purpose for us to remove the risk of youth violence from our young people – both now, and for future generations.
The strategy will involve new and old partners – from the statutory sector and across the community. To be successful, it must be developed and owned by the community and young people as well as the statutory bodies, and it must work with and enhance the good work that already takes place across Lambeth’s communities every day.
Cllr Mohammed Seedat, Cabinet Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Community Safety, said; “Since March 2018 the council has been re-organising around what has been referred to as ‘the public health approach to reducing violence’ which has been used successfully in other parts of the world, most notably in Scotland and the USA.
“The approach involves working collaboratively across organisations, using data and intelligence on violence and its causes to inform action, and put in place evidence-based interventions over several years. On a daily basis, it means working with families and young people to remove the issues in their lives that may make them at risk of being victims or perpetrators of violence.
“The approach assumes that violence is preventable, comparing it to an infectious disease that can spread quickly or break-out in clusters with people exposed to it statistically more likely to display similar symptoms.
“Violence disproportionately affects those in society who are disadvantaged in different ways.”
Evidence shows that there are risk factors that can increase the risk of violent behaviour:
- Individual risk factors such as childhood trauma, conduct disorder, bullying & substance misuse
- Family-level risk factors such as poor parental supervision, chaotic home life, domestic abuse & family unemployment
- School-based issues such as low academic achievement & exclusion from school
- Community factors such as neighbourhood poverty and disadvantage, normalisation of weapon-carrying and the illegal drugs economy
Lambeth council is developing a strategy shaped by the above approach and will include specific local risks, for example, transport hubs and food takeaways at perceived postcode or territorial boundaries.