Croydon has today (7 February 2024) published a thematic review which sets out key principles to reduce the risk of children and young people becoming involved with serious youth violence.
Commissioned by the Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP), the independent review relates to seven children and young people involved with the tragic deaths of three children and young people in 2021. All were found guilty of criminal offences following the three, unrelated incidents.
More than 100 professionals including 60 frontline practitioners, 50 community partners and the parents and families of victims, as well as children and young people involved in violence and their families, have contributed to the final report.
The review goes back as far as 2010, looking at these children’s life experiences. It analyses the help that they and their families received from social care, the police, health and community groups. There are individual examples of excellent practice and strong relationships with children and young people, as well as recommendations for change.
The review identifies common themes in the complex causes of serious youth violence – including early childhood trauma, domestic violence, substance misuse, school exclusions, county lines and offending behaviour.
It also finds evidence of positive influences in the children and young people’s lives, including faith, engagement in education, strong family relationships, career ambitions, and thoughtful trusted relationships with professionals.
The review highlights the challenges agencies faced in identifying the right help and support for these children and young people. It explores what opportunities there may have been to connect with them and improve their outcomes.
The findings are published with 10 key principles to strengthen the local and national response to serious youth violence. These are referred to in the report as K.I.D.S V.O.I.C.E.S – knowledge, identify, duplication, stick with it, voice, outcomes, innovate, community, education, spaces.
They range from early identification of learning needs and preventing school exclusions, to hearing family voices and considering the importance of place for children and young people – as well as tenacity from professionals in the face of non-engagement.
The learning will be shared with agencies and communities across Croydon and nationally, who are working together to deter children and young people from violence. A local task and finish group is under way to translate the learning into action.
The review is published in full here.
Debbie Jones, Chair of CSCP Executive, said: “On behalf of the Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership, my condolences to the families of the three young people who lost their lives, and all those who were impacted by these tragic events. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has revisited painful events to contribute to this important review and given us the opportunity to hear their voices.
“Most of the children in this review were provided with extensive support from a young age, delivered over many years by a wide range of professionals. The review highlights many examples of caring, compassionate support from committed individuals. Yet the help that was provided did not alter their outcomes.
“Many of these children experienced trauma during their early years and by their mid-teens they were being exploited and became victims of violence. It is devastating that they were involved in the criminal justice system by their late teens and two of them were imprisoned for murder before their 18th birthdays.
“Much has changed since these children first came to the notice of statutory services 10 years ago – but there is still a lot we can learn from these tragedies, not only in Croydon but across the country. We are sharing this review and its 10 key principles for reducing violence nationally. In Croydon, we will be working with the community to put in place an action plan and take this important learning forward.”
Croydon previously carried out a review of vulnerable adolescents in 2019, looking at 60 children and young people. All had been involved, or were at risk of becoming involved, in violence and exploitation. The findings have informed every aspect of work with children and families, resulting in a number of positive changes including the introduction of trauma training across the community.
The Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership comprises the agencies that are involved in safeguarding children and young people, including the council, police, health, education and community partners.