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Monday, 21 March 2011

£18million for knife crime – but how will it be spent?

£18million for knife crime – but how will it be spent?
LSG

So the government have announced that £18million will be spent on tackling knife crime, guns and gangs over the next two years.

All well and good making funds available but what do the government plan to spend it on? Do we actually have any empirical evidence that shows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to tackling knife crime?

Because if we don’t then this money will literally just be “pissed” away in small doses by each authority that manages to gain a slice of it. No doubt it will go on advertising campaigns, new “gang posts / jobs” and the associated publicity that aims to make the government look competent in what they are doing about the issue.

Will any of it actually benefit those living in the communities that suffer from the highest incidences of knife crime?

In light of the recommendations made by Brooke Kinsella, who raised some good points about the important role of education, it is very hard to believe that the government do not have the power to impose changes in the school curriculum that ensure young people are being truly educated about real life issues.

After all, a young person can expect to spend at least 30 hours a week under the supervision of a teacher therefore what they learn should be relevant in ensuring they mature into responsible young adults.

Other findings by Brooke Kinsella, which surely must have been echoed throughout local authorities across London by those who work with “gang members” on a daily basis, is the problem of data-sharing between police, schools and other agencies.

We are not experts in law but to our understanding all agencies have a duty to share information under the guise of Section 17 of the Crime & Disorder Act if it is to be used to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

How can any agency expect to deal with an individual if they do not have all the information available to them?

Brooke’s comments regarding young offender institutions are also well and good, however, until the police improve the sanctioned detection rate for crime (which stands at less than 25% currently in London) and the Crown Prosecution Service stop clowning around when it comes to sentencing, enforcement and punishment will remain an unviable option (this is a whole different debate entirely).

It is a difficult situation for everyone involved in enforcement, there is pressure not to convict young people for fear of damaging their future life and employment opportunities, whilst for those that have succumbed to the judicial system their options can be severely limited.

With an economic recession and rising unemployment levels opportunities are already limited for young people. With the planned rise in University tuition fees we could potentially be looking at an increase in youth offending in the future through lack of options.

So what is the real problem? It’s not young people.

THE MONEY AND THE CONSIDERATIONS

£10million to prevent teenagers being sucked into knife and gun gang culture
Most teenagers, probably 90% regardless of ethnicity, will NOT be “sucked” into this culture. So are we specifically targeting those at-risk? If so how are we identifying them? Those most at-risk are those that live in areas dominated by serious gangs such as the Peckham Boys (aka Black Gang) or the Gooch Close Gang in Manchester. The younger siblings and relatives of current gang members and their friends are most at-risk. Everyone else is just a potential victim. Maybe this money is actually meant for enforcement / engagement for current teen gang members?
£4million for a “communities against gangs, guns and knives’ fund”
What communities will benefit? What will it go on? Supporting young people in applying for and obtaining employment or opening up opportunities for further education and so on would be a good start for this fund. What it actually means though is unknown?
£3.75m for the worst-hit areas in London, Manchester and the West Midlands, which account for more than half of all knife crimes

£1m is to be spent on developing anti-knife crime materials for schools and £250,000 will go for one further year to the Ben Kinsella fund set up in memory of Brooke's brother to help teenagers set up anti-knife crime projects

This is probably the most effective use of the resources and yet it accounts for less than 10% of the entire funding. We will probably never learn what the money actually gets spent on but you can no doubt be assured that in two years time there will be a media article sighting the success of this money without actually proving its impact. FACT

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