Borough in running for new violence reduction workers

Custody suites in either Waltham Forest or Newham will benefit from specialist youth workers, funded by Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (credit: GLA)

Specially-trained youth workers aiming to steer kids as young as ten away from violent crime could start work in the borough’s police custody suites this summer.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan currently funds “custody intervention coaches” in seven London boroughs – Camden, Croydon, Enfield, Harrow, Lambeth, Lewisham and Redbridge – as part of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

Today, he announced the VRU would invest an extra £2.1million in the programme, named ENGAGE, to hire workers in a further five boroughs this summer.

ENGAGE workers will definitely start work in Kingston, Hackney and Hillingdon. One of the final two slots will go to a West London borough – either Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea or Hammersmith & Fulham – while the final borough is a toss-up between Waltham Forest and neighbouring Newham.

In a statement to the press, Mayor Khan said: “Tackling violence and building a safer city for all Londoners is my top priority and I’m determined to build on the progress we have made by continuing to be tough on violence and tough on its complex causes.

 “We have seen the impact youth workers have in a young person’s life and that’s why my VRU is increasing the number of intervention coaches so we can support thousands more young people through the guidance and stability offered by a trusted adult and diverting them towards positive opportunities.

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 “I’m determined to ensure that young people from all backgrounds are given the opportunities they deserve for a brighter future, as we work to build a safer, fairer London for everyone.”

The new investment will nearly double the number of coaches available for young Londoners aged ten to 18, taking advantage of “reachable moments” following an arrest for offences like drug possession or theft. 

Coaches remain independent of any police investigation and offer ongoing, long-term support that can lead to education, training and employment opportunities.

Over the last year, coaches in the current seven boroughs reached more than 1,500 young people, supporting them away from violent crime.

Lib Peck, Director of London’s VRU, said: “Our approach is rooted in prevention and early intervention with a focus on reducing violence both now and in the long-term.

 “Youth work plays a crucial role in prevention and the impact made by intervention coaches through the ENGAGE and DIVERT programmes can often be life-changing. 

“They have supported thousands of young people at what is a point of crisis, giving them advice, helping them out of situations and towards opportunity, and providing that trusted adult relationship.

 “That’s why, in partnership with local authorities and the Met, we’ve invested more to nearly double the number of youth workers and increased capacity across every BCU in London because we firmly believe that violence is preventable, not inevitable.” 

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