“We need youth centres, not chicken shop messages”
Pupils who self report as being a victim of knife crime are twice as likely to carry a knife themselves compared with non-victims. The Home Office’s latest campaign to combat youth violence is, in partnership with popular fried chicken franchises, who are printing inside chicken box lids stories of young people who have chosen to pursue other activities instead of carrying a knife.
EQUAL questions the effectiveness of the chicken shop campaign to curb serious youth violence and what evidence the Home Office have used to justify its use.
Will this have any impact? EQUAL are deeply concerned about the reasoning behind a campaign that aims to passively engage with young BAME people. There needs to be dialogue among local councils, schools, colleges, youth groups, young people and local businesses about the most effective strategies to involve and persuade young people not to carry a knife.
The evidence clearly shows that knife crime is linked to austerity cuts, youth centres have not been spared. The average council in the UK has experienced cuts ranging from 40% to 91%. Youth clubs and youth workers actively curb the entry into knife crime by acting as a preventative service for at risk youth. Young people need youth centres, not chicken shop messages.
In addition, the Home Office has doubled down on Stop and Search, despite overwhelming evidence that it does not reduce crime. These initiatives, coupled with the increasing levels of disproportionality of BAME youth in the youth justice system where black youth are four times more likely to be arrested than white, has the effect of widening distrust between BAME communities and the police.
Instead of analysing BAME youth’s propensity to violence, it is imperative that the government pursues an evidence-based approach to youth justice, with the safety and well-being of young people at the heart of every campaign. Serious investment must go towards community action projects, youth clubs and intervention services that have been well evidenced as preventative measures for youth violence.
We implore the government to take an evidence based first approach to end youth violence and treat it as a public health issue that it is. EQUAL are proud to have youth justice centred at the heart of our policy priory areas and look forward to working with the government to broaden positive outcomes for our youth, across the criminal justice system and beyond.