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Breaking the cycle of youth violence

Councils are, in many ways, just at the beginning of this journey to curb violent crime with growing evidence that the key is a ‘public health approach’ – treating it as a disease that can be cured. By working together with our local partners we can make a difference.

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Violent crimes, such as murders and gun and knife crime, account for around one per cent of all crime. But the impact of them on society is huge in terms of lives and communities destroyed. So it is concerning that in recent years the number of these offences being reported have started to rise in England and Wales.

This trend is at least partly due to the county lines phenomenon in which drug-selling gangs from major urban areas such as London, Birmingham and Liverpool exploit children, young people and vulnerable adults to commit crimes and supply drugs to markets elsewhere.

Councils have had to prioritise protecting the most vulnerable in recent years and are well aware of the growing number of children in care or young people with mental health problems who are particularly susceptible to exploitation by these criminal networks.

As the case studies in this report show, councils are stepping up to the challenge. There are universal interventions that target whole populations, such as Liverpool’s work with secondary schools across the city. Other projects are more targeted, helping those young people who are beginning to fall into a life of crime.

Key statistics

  • 1 per cent of all recorded crime is homicides and knife and gun crime (Home Office)
  • 57 per cent rise in police recorded knife crime between 2013/14 and 2017/18 (Office for National Statistics (ONS))
  • 34 per cent rise in police recorded firearms offences between 2013/14 and 2017/18 (ONS)
  • 32 per cent rise in murders and manslaughters between 2013/14 and 2017/18 (ONS)
  • 3/4 of homicide victims has previously been a victim of crime (Metropolitan Police Service)
  • 3 per cent of 14-year-olds have carried a weapon (Millenium Cohort Study)
  • 51 per cent rise in number of under 18s suffering assaults with a sharp object in the last four year (NHS)