CCC meeting of 9 August - Drugs and Street Violence
Community Crime Commission meeting, 9 August – Drugs & Street Violence
Before the Community Crime Commission (CCC) began their investigation into drugs and street violence, several commissioners reported back to the group on recent fact finding and engagement visits they had taken part in.
Commissioner Taiwo Ademola reported on his recent visit to the Redbridge Youth Offending Service. Taiwo explained to the other commissioners how the service works with young offenders and detailed the way staff work with young people to try and divert them from a life of crime and equip them with life skills.
Next, commissioner Colin Foster MBE explained he received training from ConnectFutures, an organisation that works with young people and other organisations to prevent extremism and serious violence. Colin provided a full explanation of the work they do and the innovative ways they tackle young people being drawn to crime and gangs.
Commissioner Irfan Shah spoke about the Public Health Fair held at Valentine’s Park and told the commission that he and commissioners Amy Tully and Michelle Robson spoke to residents while there to gauge their thoughts on how to tackle crime in Redbridge and noted that many residents were concerned at the lack of police patrols in the borough.
Finally, commissioner Amy Tully provided feedback on the women’s walk she took part in and explained she spoke with a range of female residents about crime and their experiences of it as women, including the Chief Executive of Redbridge Council, Lesley Seary.
Javed Khan noted that a ‘safe exit button’ has been added to the Domestic Violence web pages on the council website.
The first presentation to the commission was from Simon Harding, professor at the University of West London, who spoke in depth on how street gangs have evolved over the years, the current situation in Redbridge and what influences the organised crime scene in London. There was a detailed discussion on gang etiquette and the reasons behind aspects of the culture. Opportunities for improvements to the area and responses to crime were debated.
Next the commission saw a presentation by Redbridge Council’s Youth Services, which gave an overview of all the different youth service provided by the council and what services each provided. The presentation covered how the council work with partners including voluntary organisations and government agencies to assist vulnerable young people and those at risk of becoming involved in crime. Mentoring plays a large part of council services and supporting young people into education and training. It was explained that the reduction of young people classified as NEET (Not in Education Employment or Training) is a key objective. There was discussion around the principle of ‘child first, offender second’ and how this helps to ensure the overall wellbeing of young people.
The Community Crime Commission then saw video testimony from two expert witnesses. The first is a former headteacher of a Pupil Referral Unit, who spoke about what happens to young people when they are excluded or at risk of exclusion and his thoughts on how the system affects these young people’s opportunities. The second was a local community leader who helps young people by offering free sports training every evening. They spoke about seeing young people drawn into a life of crime and their wish to offer them an alternative through training and having a positive activity to take part in.
The Redbridge Family Intervention Team then gave a presentation on how Redbridge is responding to contextual harm and how they assist 11-18 year olds who are at risk of being involved of gangs and other harmful situations, where the risk is outside of home. The commissioners saw testimony videos of young people who have been through their services and external charity staff who work with those involved in youth violence, criminal gangs, child sexual exploitation and more. Commissioners heard about gang prevention work, the draw gang membership has on young people and what service improvements are needed for the intervention team to do their work better.
Last, the Metropolitan Police gave their perspective on how they tackled gang crime in the East Area BCU. They gave the commissioners a summary of recent crime stats and noted that from April to March 2021 there were: 389 victims of GBH, an 11% decrease to last year, 522 knife crime victims, a 12% reduction to previous year and an 18% reduction on year before that. 51 cannabis factories shut down in last year. The police then spoke about the work of the Violence Suppression Unit, who use intelligence led operations to reduce violent crime including ANPR cameras and covert operations.
Issues and hurdles faced by police in Redbridge were explained to the commissioners and the Police detailed areas where additional investment is needed to improve their work.