Over 200 young people attended Croydon Youth Summit on Saturday to share their views on knife crime.
The speakers included Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, who praised Croydon for its partnership work in tackling youth violence, which he held up Met-wide as ‘good practice’.
The young people aged 11-24 put their questions and concerns to him, and a wide range of senior borough representatives, including Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Croydon Council leader, Tony Newman and MPs Sarah Jones and Steve Reed.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon & communities, councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people & learning and William Awomoyi, Croydon Young Mayor were also there to hear young people’s views and to take questions. Crying Sons (an organisation set up to support boys and men caught up in gangs and serious violence) was represented by Gwenton Sloley.
The free event, at BRIT School, was organised by Croydon BME Forum, with support from Croydon Council, 20 young people, community organisations and a network of professional services who support young people.
The summit was also an opportunity to raise awareness of the council’s Choose Your Future campaign, which aims to unite Croydon against serious youth violence, and encourage young people to make positive choices.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
“Working with communities is crucial in our fight against knife crime in Croydon and we are so fortunate to have so many organisations who – often on a shoestring – are supporting and championing our young people and their aspirations. The work by the Croydon BME Forum and the CVA together with these organisations is making a real difference – and it was really encouraging to hear Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt describe our work as good practice in London.
“Croydon has seen a 13% decrease in knife crime in London in the 12 months to June 2018, compared to the previous 12 months. Whereas across London we’ve seen a 14% increase. We hope that this trend reflects the unrelenting hard work that communities and agencies are investing collaboratively but there are still far too many incidents every month and we are determined to beat this together.”
Croydon BME Forum CEO, Andrew Brown, said: “Why young people get involved in violence crime is complex, and the Youth Summit gave them the chance to come together and express their concerns, which included peer pressure and poor parenting.
“Follow-ups will include working with the Young Mayor and other young people to engage with harder-to-reach youths. There are also plans for another summit during term time which will include parents.”
The summit was funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), as part of a £50,000 grant that the BME Forum secured to support young people aged 11-24 away from knife crime and serious youth violence.