Mathew Shaer – West Midlands Police
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’.
Matt Shaer Superintendent WM P0lice
Mathew Shaer is part of the West Midlands Command Team having previously worked for the Metropolitan Police in a variety of roles including homicide investigation. During his time at the Met, he was seconded for two years (2009-2011) to the London Serious Youth Violence Board, which was established due to the unprecedented levels of teenage homicide and was a principal contributor to the final report. He is also proud to have been involved in establishing the 99% campaign, which was set up to challenge the stereotyping of young people. This still continues today.
He is currently serving as a West Midlands Police Superintendent, responsible for Birmingham West and co-chairs the Strategic Board responding to guns, gangs and organised criminality. His vast knowledge and expertise has enabled him to work closely with partners and colleagues to continue to take forward a Public Health approach to violence for the City of Birmingham.