UEL Youth Workers discussing Youth Violence – Part 1 Media Influence
In this very informative video Graham Goulden former Chief Inspector of the Scottish VRU, discusses the success of the unit and shares some insights into steps that he believes would benefit the situation in England.
Graham discusses how working in the VRU changed his attitude to certain aspects of Policing and how looking at these issues through a Public Health lens changed his thinking.
Graham touches on some of the outcomes achieved (reduction in homicide by 40%, more than 80% reduction in youths carrying knives) but also the many factors that led to this. By adopting a Public Health focus, the unit were able to ask why was this happening, what was contributing to the issue and how can we deal with these causes. The philosophy was to continue to learn and evolve their thinking based on evidence. Factors such as ACE’s were a major consideration on understanding how these issues impacted young people. The role of the family and how domestic violence affected behaviours outside of the home. How opportunity could be given to those who had made mistakes, how new hope could be given to those that had never had this.
Graham advocates a balanced perspective. He absolutely feels people should be held to accept for their actions. He also believes we all need to understand the whats and whys and address these causal factors.
In terms of the situation in England, Graham feels that we have much to learn. He feels some anger towards the many social commentators who are grandstanding over various approaches, but fail to deliver on a clear strategy and narrative.
Graham discusses a series of recommendations that he would make, covering:
A clear strategy that confirms the need for enforcement, but clearly seeks to focus on prevention
A strategy that provides clarity for all agencies and certainty on how they are to collaborate on a shared goal
A shift in the narrative that considers subtleties such as Stop and Engage, or Stop and Talk, rather than Stop and Search
Clarity over the role of both statutory and voluntary agencies that follows the same narrative and a shared goal
A cessation of certain media activities that present daily images of knives, which enforce a reason for fear. Instead he believes a focus on encouraging the right behaviours and norms that we wish to see in society is required
A strategy that continues. Evidence clearly points to the fact that a long term and sustained commitment to this issue is needed
Engagement and empowerment of communities. Graham firmly believes that the communities and the role they can play in prevention, in changing the narrative, in celebrating positives, is a critical success factor.
Young people are missing from the conversation. Graham strongly advocates more young people sharing their views and opinions and being engaged in finding the right solution.
Lastly Graham discusses the role of families and fathers. He advises that we need to recognise that this is a largely male issue, whether that be victims or perpetrators. That fathers and positive male role models are critical. They need to be engaged and present in the discussion.Retired Met Police Officer of 32 years, Chris Hobbs, discusses his experiences in the Met. In this video Chris shares his view on the current rise of youth gangs and knife crime and some of the reasons for this.
Chris discusses many aspects of his police career including working in Southall during a time of great tension and a prolonged period where he spent 18 months working in Jamaica. He talks about the pleasure he derived from working with the Jamaican Police force and the broader community whilst focussed on combatting drug trafficking.
Chris goes on to discuss the early days of Trident and the influence of the black community in demanding solutions to violence in the late 90’s, the relationships that were built and the trust that was developed. Chris discusses his personal view on how Trident evolved, which he believes was to its detriment and that of the communities it was focussed on.
Chris refers to subsequent changes in government and the substantial budgetary cuts that have been applied to the police, social services, youth support services in the last decade and how he feels these have all contributed to the problems of today.Road life is dead! In this short but highly motivational video, the inspirational Nathaniel Peat, CEO of The Safety Box® CIC, asks all young people to rise up, to see the impact of their actions and to believe that they can aspire higher and make a positive impact! A message for all young people.In this third short video, from expert urban youth specialist and Criminologist, Craig Pinkney, he addresses the question of what would he tell a young person threatened by the prospect of violence?
This second video from Cure Violence, looks at Elvin’s story and how violence interruption changed his life.
Elvin talks about his background and the circumstances that led to his involvement in drug dealing from the age of 9, to his arrest, at just 13. He was released from prison at the age of 25.
He talks about returning home and his intention to go back into drug dealing. He was homeless and had no support.
Through positive intervention and an unerring belief from his friend Shakira, who was by then involved in the Cure Violence programme, Elvin discusses how he was able to turn his life around.
Whilst this is a very poignant insight into life for some who are brought up in difficult environments that feature poor parenting, drugs, deprivation and violence, more importantly it is a wonderful example of how the violence interruption programme can help to rebuild, create positive change and though belief and compassion enable to the person to take a different path, have a renewed sense of self worth and hope for the future. Saving lives can happen in many ways.This introductory video from Cure Violence, explains the concept and principles behind their pioneering methods.
Whilst brief, it is very poignant and talks about life from a young persons perspective. Those who are exposed to environments that feature recurrent violence whether that is at home, at school, in the neighbourhood or elsewhere.
For these young people, violence can become a normal part of life and ultimately part of the way in which they, themselves behave and respond.
Violence is, in the words of Cure Violence, a disease that is contagious.
Cure Violence, work closely with people that have experienced these issues and understand the challenges faced. They seek to intervene through identification of the source, to contain the spread of violence. This video talks about how this approach can change views, heal damage and alter behaviours. Victims can become the antidote, that stops the spread.In this very insightful presentation Cherie discusses her background, work and why she created Shared Intense Support, which is a 24 hour support service for girls seeking to exit the gang lifestyle, serious violence and sexual exploitation.
Cherie discusses the reality that certain girls and young women choose gang lifestyle. She argues that whilst many are forced into this through coercion, there is another community who voluntarily make this choice. The journey for these young people is different. These are girls who through long standing criminal activities within their families or those they associate with make conscious decisions to participate. Money, status and continuing the family tradition are all part of the attraction. Cherie makes these statement with certainty, as she has walked this path.
Cherie argues that very often these girls are highly motivated, very organised and good communicators.
However, like many, whilst they start out as perpetrators, they quickly progress to become victims of the very community they sought to become part of. Cherie talks about the harsh reality of gang involvement. Recurrent traumatic experiences of violence, rape and repeated prison experiences create a sensation of desensitisation. Cherie describes the often common backgrounds these young women come from, which invariably feature social deprivation, low personal self esteem, lack of educational attainment and frequently family environments that lack positive parental guidance.
As Cherie progresses through this talk, she refers to the possibilities and harms of social media. She talks about the realities that children will seek to hide their activities and who they engage with. She talks about the fact that certain platforms enable Drug related activities to be positively advertised so that young people can engage in these. She mentions that she has seen how they can be used to employ violence against others. However she also discusses the fact that it is essential for parents to understand how these platforms work, the importance of engaging with your children on these platforms, the importance of friends and family to help monitor activities.
Based her own upbringing and the experiences she has of current youth culture, she also refers to the lack of trust with some social services and how these are often not equipped to provide the support needed at the right times. This leads onto how whilst setting up her support service, she realised that this needed to be done in a way that was both credible, and accessible to the young people she worked with when they needed it. She discusses how she has worked with young people to help them escape county lines, sexual and emotional exploitation.
Cherie adopts unusual methods, but says that these are based on sound evidence of what works and over time can deliver effective outcomes.
Cherie concludes by saying that although the people she works do choose this lifestyle at the outset, there is no getting away from the fact that underlying societal factors such as deprivation, education, housing issues and trauma are the catalysts that drive the issue.Trina O’Connor presents a perspective from Ireland that focusses on Dublin and surrounding areas.
In this 10 minute point of view, Trina talks about the recent events in Dublin and how this has contributed to an increase criminal activity, drug dealing and inner city violence. She refers to events in 2016 and the aftermath, which have resulted in feuds developing between rival criminal gangs, a further escalation in the issues and deaths within the community as drug and turf wars have been fought.
She talks about how vulnerable young people, those that have come from the care system, are carers for others, those that come from environments that feature high drug use or addiction issues, those that have been failed by education systems or experience poverty, are are being caught up in this situation. Trina talks about the challenges this presents for the individuals, the community and how lack of opportunity and other factors add to the attraction of these criminal gangs.
However, Trina who is heavily involved in seeking to create positive change, also goes on to discuss the positive response that is developing to these issues. This refers to the work of community organisations, who with the assistance and support of the Taoiseach, have sought to review the situation and important initiatives such as the Mulvey report, have been produced which focus on a series of positive recommendations about tackling the situation in North East Inner City Dublin.
Two years later this is still a work in progress but it is a major shift from where past governments have sought to intervene, which for decades have left the community to deal with local drugs and criminality issues. Trina talks about the positive response from the Garda and the efforts made to engage with young people and the community in different and positive ways.
Trina believes there remains much to do. Many young people still suffer from low self esteem, poverty is still prevalent, opportunities are not there for all. Trina believes that further focus needs to be applied to building partnerships, creating real and tangible opportunities, earlier intervention and learning that looks at restorative justice. Trina also discusses the issues of homelessness and direct provision.
Trina concludes with a few brief comments around a report from recent weeks. This highlights remaining issues in the approach which critically failed to deliver justice to some victims of crime, and in preventative terms, failed to act on available intelligence that may have enabled effective intervention in advance of crimes being committed.Steve Warner, Deputy Head Teacher, discusses the very forward thinking, ‘Beyond the Gate’ initiative, that has been implemented at his school. It is important to state that this was not in response to a gang issue. On the contrary, the school is successful and the students feel safe, but the school recognises the role it can play in safeguarding and mitigating issues already evident in the community and developing elsewhere.
In this presentation Steve discusses the reasons why the school sought to implement a model of early identification and intervention for students at the school and the early warning signs that provoked this. The model that has been developed, focusses on many important aspects of prevention ranging from ensuring effective information, education and training is provided to students, teachers and parents, to collaboration with multiple agencies to one-to-one support and mentoring to help those in need of extra care and advice.
Steve discusses how the school recognises it’s role and at the centre of student life and the quite unique opportunity this presents.
With an intimate understanding of the individual student, their peers, coupled with a relationship with the family and engagement with the local community, the school is ideally positioned to identify issues early, discuss these and ultimately seek to ensure appropriate help and support is put in place for those that need it.
Beyond the tremendous work that Steve has done in building out this programme with the school, they have further sought to enhance this programme by actively seeking out further expert support to enhance education through school assemblies featuring intervention organisations, education programmes, community initiatives and engagement with the local police and authorities.
The initiative is ongoing and is extending further into new plans to develop increased understanding around adverse childhood experiences, greater collaboration with other schools and sharing these activities with others that share concerns about student safety and would like to follow in this positive and proactive initiative.
We believe this is a positive initiative and congratulate Steve and all involved at the school, for taking these proactive steps to helping safeguard and educate young people on these issues.We are delighted to present the second video from the brilliant Craig Pinkney discussing how we can start to deal with the issues of violence on our streets.
In this impassioned and articulate discussion, Craig talks about how we understand the culture of violence, how territories have always been a source of conflict and how we must understand this is not a new issue.
Craig explores the role of parents, relationships, communication, trauma and mental health at home, how the communities and faith leaders must seek to engage with troubled communities and how they can help change attitude and thinking. Further to this Craig explores the perception of the police, how stereotyping causes conflict, the past issues that have been left unresolved and how policy needs to evolve. Craig challenges the local authorities and their appreciation of the issues and whether the necessary expertise and collaboration is consistently in place to deal with the local and community issues. He raises the role of government and whether we are seeking to understand what has happened elsewhere, whether we truly appreciate approaches taken in other countries or locations that have considered and dealt with this as a public health problem, and how these approaches may fit certain solutions needed now.
Moving away from individual areas of the community Craig discusses how consumerism also plays a part in what is happening and the role certain companies play in putting their goals of profit before the sensitivities of certain demographics and communities.
Craig concludes by saying that this is an issue for us all. We should not seek to point the finger of blame at young people exclusively, nor the police, nor the local communities, or any other single part of society. It is an issue that we all must seek to resolve and and understand how we can collectively respond in a way that makes positive and lasting changes.
In this final video from Crib founder, Janette Collins, she discusses the reality of experiencing trauma and how it impacts mental wellbeing.
Janette talks about the effect of young people witnessing extreme violence or deaths involving friends, in areas they know well. She touches on how these sometimes recurrent events, cause immense emotional trauma for those directly involved and for others that may have lost children or those close to them in the past.
In this short video Janette talks about the ways in which these issues cause long term PTSD symptoms, manifesting in flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of guilt, of anger or confusion and otherwise erratic, withdrawn and reactive behaviours. She also discusses the cultural challenge and stigma that often means these issues are not widely discussed as doing so can be wrongly seen as a sign of weakness by the individual, and those around them.
Janette concludes with a plea to parents and others, to listen to the children and take the time to understand what they are experiencing in order to ensure they get the support and counselling needed.In this second video from Janette Collins, founder of the Hackney based Crib, she discusses the history of the organisation, her motivations and how she started out by meeting and talking with young people on the streets.
Presenting another very frank and honest perspective, Janette talks about the range of services that she and her colleagues provide, how two tragic events in 2015 nearly caused her to break and some of the many positive initiatives that she has sought to put in place.
She momentarily touches on a few of the many people that have had involvement and support from the Crib and gone on to achieve wonderful things in life. A remarkable array of well known people.
Janette concludes with an insight into the realities of the restricted world of some communities, how appreciative young people are as she seeks to give them exposure to other aspects of life, including events and trips to other parts of the country…and how she wishes she were able to help many more in this way.Janette Collins founder of the CRIB, in Hackney, London, discusses many aspects of community life and and how society has altered.
In this, the first of three videos, Janette talks about her personal involvement in youth work since 1978. She talks about how things have changed within communities and the past desire to support each other being lost as we have become more fragmented as a society. She discusses how she feels about this breakdown of relationships and how common ideals around faith, have diminished.
Janette talks about the evolving nature of society and how people are pressurised to find a balance between truly being there for their children whilst struggling to balance the demands of work.
Janette touches on discipline, both at home and at school and the confusing place we have arrived at.
In this first video Janette concludes with her view on the challenges faced by schools to find the right way to ensure adequate education for all, deal with difficult situations and the very damaging consequences of school exclusion, which materially impacts self esteem and creates a clear sense of rejection from society.
Jane discusses how issues related to attachment, fear and trauma in early childhood can have a dramatic impact on young people and their mental wellbeing.
In this very interesting and enlightening presentation Jane discusses how early childhood trauma and attachment needs can shape a young persons perception of safety. Jane discusses her past experiences with young children, how factors such as violence, trauma, fear and exclusion can cause the brain to remain in a constant state of survival, as a natural defence mechanism.
She discusses how research and scientific evidence distinguishes between the different types of trauma and the subsequent effects it has on individuals. She explains that children can overcome a single traumatic moment, especially if they live in a safe and supportive environment. However, this is very different for those who are exposed to sustained trauma and come from homes or settings that offer little safety. Jane explains how this type of prolonged experience maintains a constant primeval state of survival, which overwhelms and stresses the young person and prevents them from thriving healthily and happily.
Jane emphasises the need for investment and support at these early stages both for those directly affected and their parents. She has developed specific tools to help parents to deal with their own personal states of trauma, in order to promote a safe and secure home for children to flourish.
Jane concludes by outlining the necessity for increased intervention and support for those affected by traumatic conditions through a holistic approach, which tackles all of the issues faced. She also stresses that anyone who goes into this line of work, must be aware of their own personal state of mind, so that they are completely grounded, to avoid worsening the situation by their own personal challenges.
Ashley Bertie Assistant Crime Commissioner for WM PCC, discusses how WM sought to work closely with the communities to build a progressive strategy to deal with the increase in Gang and Youth related crime.
In this insightful and forward thinking presentation, Ashley discusses how the Gun and Violence Commission was set up in the WM. He openly talks about the process adopted that involved lengthy discussion with all aspects of the communities, private and public sector organisations, to determine the issues and how these needed to be resolved. It was clear that enforcement alone was not a viable approach.
In 2017, following 18 months of consultation, the conclusions were published. This focussed on a series of key recommendations and a clear recognition that this needed a public health approach. The critical aspects identified included at their heart, that any strategy had to focus on prevention and that young people had to be able develop the skills and motivations needed to succeed in life.
Many recommendations (24) were identified, and Ashley discusses several of these, including the need to have negotiators who would liaise with the communities, talk to people, understand the local issues and help to prevent issues developing. Critically, these people needed to have the credible, relevant, life experiences to engage with young people and the communities.
Ashley further discusses the WM plan to take 25% of its cadets from socially deprived backgrounds to enable young people who are positively motivated to contribute to society to have an avenue to show their talents, to have a voice and an opportunity to grow and learn.
Ashley also discusses the introduction of youth workers in A&E departments. Incidents that occur in this area often present opportunities to teach, to intervene and engage with those affected by violence and start the process of building long term trust and support and to leave criminality behind them.
Another initiative being adopted is that of mentors. Creating a sense of hope and ambition is extremely important and as such WM have built a community of inspiring people who come from similar backgrounds to the young people, but have gone on to great success in their personal lives. They are able to discuss the pitfalls and the challenges, but also provide guidance to young people as to what can be achieved and how to realise their potential.
WM have allocated additional funding to make this initiative a success and a view shared by Ashley is that the Guns and Violence Commission is one way that they are working to help young people to believe they can succeed, to give them hope and ambition and the courage and motivation to believe in themselves.Mat Shaer from West Midlands Police provides his personal perspective on gang and youth crime.
In this thought provoking insight, Mat discusses his background and prolonged experience in homicide, youth and gang crime, his time in the MET and his two year secondment to the London Youth Violence board. Mat talks about his pride in helping set up the 99% Campaign in London, which was put in place to challenge the perspective that all young people are involved in crime and change those developing misconceptions about young people.
Mat discusses his views on why we are in the midst of another crisis on the streets. He confirms that this has been an ongoing concern for the communities involved but that the media are heavily (and rightly) focussed on this issue, which is raising it’s visibility.
Mat goes onto to explore why past initiatives have failed. He discusses the need to think differently, to engage with others who think differently and to tackle the issue with a public health approach. This requires all partners to have a common perspective on what Mat refers to as the ‘Golden Thread’. What is it that binds all the partners together to act in a cohesive and co-ordinated way? In this case, the partnership that has been created in the West Midlands which includes representation from the communities, the police and criminal justice system, housing departments, education teams, faith leaders and others providing support, collectively agreed that the entire approach, and related thinking, ought to be focussed on resolving adverse childhood experiences.
Mat discusses how faith can often be a route out of gang related activities, how the voice of young people needs to be at the heart of what is done and how communities can mobilise to provide leadership and focus their energies on delivering solutions.
Mat discusses the need for police enforcement but also discusses the importance of getting this right. He fully endorses the need to deal with the here and now, but reaffirms the need to do this whilst also ensuring that the underlying issues are addressed in a sustained, collaborative and multi-dimensional way.
Mat concludes with the importance of creating a sense of hope and ambition, ‘communities want to know that you have a big ambition to change things…and that there is a real hope, that things will be done better’.
This is one of the most comprehensive and stark insights into what is going with County Lines you will find.
In this video Rhiannon Sawyer, area manager for London at the UK Childrens Society discusses how Organised Crime Groups are impacting young people throughout the entire country and how vulnerable young people and in some cases adults, are being abused and exploited.
Rhiannon discusses why youngsters are getting involved including the key societal issues such as poverty, learning difficulties, those who have experienced domestic violence, those who are young carers, are in care themselves, those excluded from schools and those from black and ethnic minorities. Whilst this issue touches ALL communities and all races, many of the aforementioned are over-represented amongst those directly involved.
Rhiannon goes onto to discuss the Grooming process, which can be over a couple of hours or very much longer. This involves social media such as Instagram and SnapChat accounts which are set up to glamourise opportunities to be involved, that its fun and that money can be earnt. Those targeted outside of social media are often met at schools, in parks, takeaways, shopping centres and other places.
The process of grooming can involve debt bondage where the victims are given gifts only to be told at a later date that they now owe the crime groups. Likewise they can be robbed of the goods they have been asked to deliver. The reality is this is carried out by the gangs themselves and it merely creates a debt that the victim owes and has to repay.
Digital collateral is also a part of this process, where the victims may be forced to strip, are assaulted, are beaten up, made to improper things all of which are filmed, with the threat that they will go online if the person doesn’t co-operate.
The threats faced are extremely real and extreme. This is organised crime who are clear in their approach and will utilise the most extreme violence possible to create fear. Children have witnessed shootings, stabbings. rapes (both boys and girls), adults have sex and are exposed to extremely unsanitary environments. This has immense impact on their level of fear and is intended to ensure compliance.
Rhiannon also discusses how vulnerable adults are being coerced into this dreadful situation. Cuckooing which involves the homes of vulnerable adults being taken over, often takes place as centres for distribution. Those targeted include vulnerable single mothers, those with learning difficulties, those in poverty and those who have a drug dependancy. These vulnerable people are intimidated, often abused and at real risk of violence.
In terms of numbers these are not known accurately. It was reported earlier this year that up to 46,000 young people were involved. However what is clear and undeniable is that every police force in the UK, every major city in the UK, and all county police forces are impacted with the latter reporting that organised crime groups from the cities are entering their more urban rural areas. This issue is bigger than anything the UK has seen before. It is bigger than previous child exploitation issues.
Rhiannon closes by discussing the absence of safe places for young people to visit and socialise. She refers to young people meeting at shopping centres, other places where they can congregate and the fact that this means there are no designated safe guarding leads/responsible adults to protect them. She asks that in the interests of children throughout the UK that every member of the public be vigilant and report any suspicious events to those in authority or responsible for the facility they are in.Grace presents her highly informative research on Child Exploitation and County Lines.
Grace decided to undertake this research following discussion with various Merseyside Police and front line child intervention support staff, who voiced concerns about the growing numbers of young children being brought into the criminal justice system. This highlighted a clear connection with drug dealing ie those caught in possession with intent to supply.
Over the subsequent 2 years Grace met with many young people involved in gang related activities and explored this issue in detail.
In this revealing research project Grace discusses how and why certain young people are getting involved, their backgrounds, the societal issues that contribute to their exploitation and the unsafe environments that they are being exposed to.
Grace talks about the fact that many do not fully appreciate the exploitation and level of risk that is involved, often until it is too late. Frequently subjected to degrading acts, these young people are exposed to personal abuse, threats of violence to themselves and other members of their families.
Whilst victims on many levels, Grace also asks when that line is crossed and the perception becomes one of perpetrator rather than victim.
Like many others, Grace concludes that the current UK drug policy has failed and calls for reform to sever the damaging link between organised crime groups that are driving drug supply in the UK and their exploitation of young and vulnerable people.Former undercover police officer and chairman of LEAP UK Neil Woods, discusses his personal observations and experiences of County Lines. He explores how Organised Crime Groups (OCG’s) infiltrate communities, through the manipulation and grooming of young, vulnerable children, who are used in the supply and distribution of illegal drugs. Neil discusses the many related causes, societal factors, targeting strategies and the extremely violent methods employed by OCG’s during the coercion of children. He talks frankly about the need to sever the link between the Drugs Market, Organised Crime Groups and the exploitation of children. Neil concludes with a very clear, personal perspective on how this could be transformed and should be challenged.In this second video POV from Kelly Reid at the CRIB (parents voice) she discusses how youth violence and gangs have evolved in the Hackney area. She talks about the issue of the media and 24×7 social media amplifying the events that occur, causes increased fear and anxiety for all concerned. She points to the fact that this constant stream of fear generates increased anxiety and provokes some behaviours.
Kelly continues to discuss the issues for parents and the need for the earliest possible intervention. She explores some of the challenges faced in terms of how young people want more independence, trust and respect, but that this must not result in parents believing their children are independent and able to deal with the issues that arise in their lives. Kelly works with children and parents together, to give them tools and safeguarding methods to help deal with these challenges.
Kelly goes on to discuss the importance of parents in the context of conversation. Being prepared to find the time when children are prepared to talk or need to. Not accepting ‘its all fine’ as the response and failing to really explore whats happening. Building relationships where young people feel they can talk openly without fear of judgement. Helping children understand what friendships should be, understand who they spend their time with and taking an interest in their education. She explains in failing to do this it starts to create a barrier to discussion and understanding as they grow.
She concludes by saying that it is essential that children know, that their parents will be there, to support, to listen, to help, when they need it.
The highly regarded Professor Alex Stevens, discusses his latest BMJ editorial, focussed on Cannabis legislation in the UK.
In this short video Alex explores what has happened since the Home Office moved Cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2.
He talks about the concerns that the NHS have about it’s use and the reality that only very few, specific conditions will fall into a category where the drug may be prescribed. Alex questions whether this is the correct conclusion and whether adult individuals who believe they derive benefits, should have greater capacity to make their own decisions.
Alex concludes with his personal view that Cannabis would be better served by being rescheduled to Schedule 4 (part 2) which would still put constraints on supply and prescribed use, but permit people to be in possession (ie grow their own) without fear of prosecution.At the age of 21, Amani was stabbed 7 times during a confrontation and failed robbery. This proved to be a turning point in Amani’s life. He experienced an epiphany in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and rediscovered his faith. He believes he was very fortunate to survive and that he was saved for a reason. It has taken a long for Amani to fully recover from the events and although he started to build a commercial business, he feels his calling is in helping young people.
Amani created Aviard Inspires which he hopes can provide a positive basis to do this. Whilst he fully recognises that gang lifestyle can appear attractive to certain young people, he believes the reality, is very different. Amani’s story has been made into a film which will premier in 2019. He hopes that this will provide a basis for educating many vulnerable young people about the realties or gang involvement and that it will be a platform for education in schools and communities.
Amani discusses some of the challenges young people face, ranging from the violent trauma that many are experiencing in certain deprived parts of the country, to the related difficulties of mental health, the environments, the negative influence of violent images and music and how these many factors can damage self esteem and create fear. However, Amani recognises that perhaps, broader sections of society are starting to wake up to the problems that are occurring and asking why? This is a positive step forward and combined with those that have, and will continue to work tirelessly within the communities, it is perhaps an indication that positive change can occur.
In closing this video Amani discusses the need for young people to be strong and follow their dreams. He says that sacrifices are needed, it might be uncomfortable and others will try to steer you off your track, but that there are many others want to help and support. It is important that young people find these positive influences and mentors.
Amani believes that the more this issue is openly discussed, the more people share their personal stories, the more people discuss their challenges, the more likely we are to see positive change. We agree completely.Dr Emma Agnew, discusses her research into young people and gangs. In this frank and thought provoking analysis, Emma discusses the many young people she has worked with who have had gang involvement. She is particularly interested in the language and narratives frequently used that serve to label young people and provoke many responses from society, but fail to address the underlying causes. Emma discusses the structural violence, committed by the government, that results in racism, poverty and inequality. She draws on the fact that the UK is amongst the wealthiest countries in the world, yet we have such significant levels of inequality. Emma discusses how language creates stereotypes that then prevail through government, to the press, to schools, the police and how the general public view young people. This has significant impact on the young people themselves who are often victims of poverty and how it affects their self esteem, their emotional and psychological well being. Emma concludes with her persecutive that society needs to re-humanise these individuals, remove the labels and start to focus on interventions that look at social, rather than criminal, justice.We are delighted to be able to present the high energy, highly motivated, The Safety Box ® CIC CEO, Nathaniel Peat.
Nathaniel talks in a very passionate and inspiring way about why The Safety Box ® was set up and how the strategies were built in consultation with many professionals. The Safety Box ® work with a wide range of people from primary school children, through youth offending to prisons and all age groups from primary school age up to adults.
The Safety Box ® have developed in house strategies and repackaged past government initiatives such as Every Child Matters, to arrive at a sophisticated methodology that focusses on practically rebuilding confidence and addressing past issues with young people. Nathaniel is one of the few people in the UK who also has direct experience of the Cure Violence method (previously adopted in Chicago USA and proven to so effective) which he has utilised in a prison environment with remarkable effect.
The Safety Box ® utilise what are referred to as ‘credible messengers’ ie., former offenders who can engage with highly violent young people with credibility. This is supplemented with personal development, education and skills development to empower the young people involved. The Safety Box ® provide training to schools and teachers who may not have previously encountered inner city schools to develop understanding of language, behaviours and other strategies that enable difficult situations and behaviours to be managed. Amongst the other areas that Nathaniel discusses are skills that are developed related to body language, avoiding conflict and personal protection.
Nathaniel talks with great energy about the need to give young people a chance, to help them realise their ambitions and how The Safety Box ® work to do this through delivery partners and a working relationship with the EY Foundation who are delivering tremendous programmes helping young people develop skills and enter the workplace through career opportunities and entrepreneurship.
The Safety Box ® also discusses the societal issues that are driving some of the issues we see today and concludes with a passionate summary of his personal goal of giving UK Youth the chance to succeed, to ‘Aspire Higher’, and be recognised as some of the best in Europe.The remarkable Patsy McKie, founder of Mothers Against Violence in Manchester, discusses why the organisation was created and talks about the support that MAV provide. Patsy touches on her own tragic loss, her faith and how we all need to work together to create change for young people. Patsy shares her views on the impact of gang crime in the UK, how it affects communities and the important role that parents must take responsibility for providing to their children.Sheldon Thomas, former gang member, founder and Chief Executive of Gangsline, discusses the work being done by the organisation. This involves former gang members training and delivering gang prevention workshops and further extends into consulting with government, police, schools, PRU workers and others. Sheldon discusses the increases in knife crime and the failure of several former Home Secretaries to listen to his concerns. He explores the critical role that parents play and the need to look at root causes. Whether this is black, white or other communities, he discusses the manner in which families break down, how society is changing and the external influences that are shaping the way our young people think and behave. He confirms the need for communities to engage, parents to intervene and touches on a wide array of societal factors such as struggling mothers, mental health issues, the need for better education, vocational work opportunities that meet the changing needs of young people and how we need to implement a systemic approach to resolving these issues.Mohammed provides a highly informed introduction to the UK gangland scene. He discusses the complexity around how we define and distinguish such communities, talks about those involved and how in the UK attention focusses on the often reported activities of urban street gangs. However Mohammed also discusses how these urban gangs are in fact becoming more closely aligned with well resourced and Organised Crime Groups who use these communities to achieve specific goals.Highly respected Criminologist and expert on gangs and criminal justice, Dr Paul Andell discusses his research into UK gangs and the complex relationships between organised crime groups, urban street gangs and younger more vulnerable individuals and communities. This is a fascinating insight into how policy has changed, how urban gangs are evolving into semi-organised crime groups and how their activities have changed. Paul talks about the ability of larger metropolitan gangs to exert lethal responses to disputes and explores the many ways in which society has contributed to the issues we face today. He goes on to discuss the need for social proofing to protect impoverished and disadvantaged communities and why community collaboration with other agencies is so important in dealign with this issue.Highly respected former Merseyside Police Detective Inspector, Criminologist and Lecturer, Richard Carr, discusses the impact of serious organised crime. He confirms the immense cost to the UK economy (£37bn per year) of policing these OCG’s, who are responsible for the large scale importation of drugs and are behind more UK deaths than counter terrorism. He goes on to discuss the impact on the streets and the relationships between these groups, vulnerable individuals and urban gangs. Richard discusses UK Government strategy, the Four P’s approach and shares his view personal on where he believes the focus needs to be.The highly informed and much respected Criminologist and urban youth specialist, Craig Pinkney, discusses why violence is erupting on our streets. In this fascinating and powerful presentation, Craig discusses the realities of how stereotypes have been built in the UK that fail to recognise the spectrum that truly exists. He then explores the differing communities involved from rarely discussed Organised Crime Groups, to urban gangs and other more vulnerable young people and how their motivations and characteristics differ significantly. Craig discusses the realities of life for many young people, the increasing violence, fear and some of the many societal factors that contribute to the issue and in some cases can make gang life appear attractive.Kelly who works for the CRIB social inclusion project, discusses why Parents Voice was created. In this very insightful discussion she explores the realities of what it is like to be a parent of someone drawn into gang culture. How young people are drawn into this environment, how some are groomed, the gifts they are given, the kudos it provides, but how ultimately, this leads to them ‘belonging to someone’. She goes on to discuss the confusing media messages and how this often creates more concern for parents. She then discusses the role of parents and the need to engage with their children, carefully assess their moods and behaviours for clues and that parental responsibility includes setting boundaries, being prepared to discipline in the right way, knowing their whereabouts and who they are associating with.Dr Amir Englund from Kings College presents a very interesting insight into Cannabis. Amir has spent the last 8 years looking at the effects of Cannabis. Amongst the topics Amir discusses are potency and how it affects the user, the UK Cannabis market, how Cannabis has altered and offers some informed perspectives on psychosis and addiction. Amir is presently conducting a study on the relationship between CBD and THC and discusses the initial findings.Highly respected and world renowned Professor David Nutt, talks about his background, the creation of Drug Science and the highly innovative analysis being undertaken. David also discusses the medical potential of certain drugs and how UK Drug Policy currently constrains important research.Eddie Jacobs, Policy Lead at The Beckley Foundation talks about some of the ground breaking Psychedelic research currently being conducted. Eddie explains how many mental health conditions could benefit from this research and how current UK Drug policy applicable to Schedule 1, is hampering this at every turn.Baroness Meacher talks in depth about the process of achieving revised legislation for Medicinal Cannabis, her experiences as Co-Chair of the APPG and the broader question of Drug Policy in the UKNeil Woods, chairman of Leap UK, author of Good Cop, Bad War, and long time undercover police officer, who spent many years infiltrating the UK’s biggest drug gangs, presents a passionate and sincere view on why UK Drug Policy needs urgent reform.Peter Reynolds of CLEAR explains how and why reform is necessary; not just for cannabis, but for all drugs.Arfon Jones was elected the Police and Crime Commissioner for north Wales on 5 May 2016. Following a twenty-year career with North Wales Police ending in 2008 when he retired at the rank of Inspector, Arfon has campaigned for the drugs laws to be relaxed and believes that cannabis should be legalised for medicinal use.Eddie Jacobs, Policy Lead at The Beckley Foundation talks about why UK Drug Policy needs urgent reform.Jason Reed is the Executive Director of LEAP UK. Jason has worked in Drug Policy as a writer/blogger for many well-known, international journals and media platforms. Here he discusses the reasons why UK Drug Policy is failing and why reform is needed.Danny Kushlick, founder of Transform Drugs, the UK’s leading drug reform reform think-tank, talks in depth about all things drug related and the origins of prohibition.Norman Lamb Liberal Democrats MP discusses the ‘unmitigated and catastrophic disaster’ of the war on drugs.Richard Hurley from the BMJ reaffirms the common request from the BMJ, RSPH, Faculty of Public Health, BMA and the Royal College of Physicians, for drug decriminalisation in the UK.Mike Barton – Durham Constabulary on UK Drug Reform. Mike talks about the dangers, the relationship between enforcement and violent crime and his greatest fear: ‘that we are creating a latter day Mafia in the UK’.TOTW IdeaSpeakers corner“Chris, I can’t shut down my mind when I try to meditate!” Well good, you’re not a robot. You just need to use the c-word more during your meditation. Here’s how: