The challenge

Levels of knife crime are at an all time high in Hertfordshire with 3281 knife offences recorded over a 3-year period from 2016. This reflects a national trend of knife crime which has seen almost every police force in the country dealing with a rise of knife related incidents. Hertfordshire, however, has seen the most rise of any police force in the county for knife crime with a 293% increase in offences over the past 5 years according to Home Office statistics.

This also includes the horrendous statistic, that in 2018 in Hertfordshire, five 14-year-olds were charged with murder. This puts into perspective the scale of the problem in the county and the damage that is being done to local communities and families. The Hertfordshire Health Related Behaviour Survey, carried out in 2016, showed that 25% of secondary pupil’s self–reported that they carry a weapon or something else for protection.

We feel that by working closely with partners across the county, such as Hertfordshire Constabulary, Families First, Targeted Youth Support teams and YC Hertfordshire, we can help to end this wave of youth violence. We have recently been awarded funding by the Sport England Satellite Club programme which will allow us to put into action a project to use sport as a tool to help combat knife crime and improve the lives of vulnerable young people in the county.

What we are doing

Using this funding, we are intending to develop three project themes to help tackle this growing problem through sport. The first will be based at local boxing clubs and is a direct response to insight gleaned from young people which identified boxing as an activity they would like to participate in. This is supported by a growing body of empirical evidence as to the attraction and impact of boxing to disaffected young people. We propose to run 10 sessions in the county, one in each district area, in existing boxing clubs through the Box Cleva charity.

We appreciate that boxing will not necessarily appeal to all young people and we will therefore work with other partners to deliver alternative programmes consisting of multi sports (predominantly football and basketball) sessions, along with music and food, to meet the needs of young people. Sessions will be delivered at existing youth centres by a mixture of youth workers, sports coaches and musical leads respectively. Thus, providing a bespoke service where the voice of participating young people, is placed firmly at the heart of the planning process.

Finally, whilst the statistics highlight that it is predominantly males who are the perpetrators of gang and knife crime, we are acutely aware that there is risk of girls becoming embroiled in criminality; either in the gang culture or for sexual exploitation. Therefore, we will be developing female specific sessions in 3 areas of the county, Hertsmere, Welwyn Hatfield and Stevenage, where insight has indicated there is a need for a girl’s project.

To ensure that our project has maximum impact we will be including a mentoring element to every session to ensure that young people have the opportunity to disclose any fears or concerns they have in their personal lives and provide direction and support to make future positive life choices. This will also ensure that mentor is able to spot any indicators and signs that the young person is on the cusp of the criminality and take steps accordingly to prevent this or escalate it to the authorities. Wrapped around this will also be an education programme where professionals will be educating the young people on a range of topics and issues they may face in their lives such as: drugs and alcohol awareness, sexual health, healthy diet and realistic elements such as how to deal with injuries/wounds should the situation arise.

This project is set to run from 1st April 2019 until 31st March 2021 and we are currently looking to establish a pilot project to assess the impact and success of the programme before a county wide roll out in April.

For further information about this programme please contact:

Charlie Mann
E: c.mann3@herts.ac.uk
T: 01707 285026