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St Giles Trust has nearly 12 years of experience of offering specialist services and support to young people involved in gangs and serious youth violence. Through our schools-based work we offer preventive work with young people through providing them with the skills and knowledge to stay safe. Our experience tells us that an alarming number of children and young people carry a weapon in the belief it offers protection.
Insights from our frontline staff tell us that county lines activity is a key driver behind serious violence as drug gangs adopt increasingly brutal tactics. Sadly, those at the sharp end are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
We welcome today’s report from the Home Affairs Select Committee and the way in which it reminds us of the urgency of this issue. We particularly welcome the fact it highlights;
The links between deprivation and vulnerability - deprivation has led to some young people to grow up feeling excluded from mainstream opportunities. This lack of opportunity - both real and perceived - is creating a vacuum which negative influences can fill.
The role of cuts to youth services – this has left many children and young people, especially those growing up in deprived communities, with no safe spaces
The role of school exclusions – a frequent issue amongst the children and young people we support. Exclusions can make young people feel like failures alongside
disrupting their education and future prospects in life.
The need for better improved community policing – strengthened links between police and schools are vital to build up much needed trust between young people and the police and help young people feel protected.
The need for definitions of vulnerability to be widened – these should take into account risks children and young people face outside the family home.
We would also highlight and welcome the fact that the Government has already taken steps to address serious youth violence through a number of measures including the Early Intervention Youth Fund which supports work with young people at risk. The effects of this work will take some time to filter through but offer an
important step in addressing root causes.
Every young life is precious and each one that is lost is a tragedy. Today’s Home Affairs report reminds us that we must continue to work tirelessly to help prevent