Barking & Dagenham Council launches campaign to combat youth violence

A London council has told parents to “take more responsibility for their children” as it launched a crusade against the rise in youth violence in the capital.

Barking and Dagenham’s “Lost Hours” campaign, which will see adverts placed on buses and at stations, will ask parents to keep tabs on their children, particularly between the hours of 3pm and 7pm when statics show there are spikes of violence amongst teenagers.

Director Nathan Miller has also created a film featuring people who have been affected by youth violence, including Peter Chesney whose daughter Jodie, 17, was stabbed to death in Harold Hill in March 2019.

Miller, who has made documentaries with Drake, Stormzy, Skepta and rapper J Hus, said: “As soon as I was asked, I wanted to get involved because the subject is very relevant. Growing up in east London I’ve seen the effects of knife crime and youth violence and I want to play my part in trying to stop it.”

In the last two years Barking and Dagenham has seen 67 reported knife attacks on young people and 1,794 robberies committed by young people.

There is generally an increase in youth violence between the hours of 3pm and 7pm when schools finish and parents get home from work, data from the Crime and Disorder Strategic Assessment shows.

A council spokesman said: “The campaign will see the council tackling the issue head on and speaking to parents directly, urging them to take more responsibility for their children by asking them where they are, before it’s too late.

“With lockdown easing and the summer holidays in full swing, there will be more young people on the streets and the risk of a peak in anti-social behaviour, so the council wants parents to take an active role and check in on their children regularly.”

Councillor Maureen Worby, cabinet member for social care and health integration, said: “There is no hiding away from the fact that youth violence is getting worse across the whole of London. We all need to work together to beat this worrying issue and this includes parents making sure they know where their children really are and what they are up to.

“Every young person has a parent or a guardian who is responsible for them and we are asking you to work with us now to stop this continuous issue.”

The campaign has also received backing from the Met. Chief Inspector Lisa Butterfield, from East Area Command, said: “Youth violence is a problem across the whole of London and I am really pleased to see that Barking and Dagenham are trying to tackle the issue head on by speaking directly to parents.

“The Lost Hours campaign is very hard-hitting but unfortunately it’s what is needed for some parents to take notice and start realising that this is happening on their doorstep and that their child could be involved.”

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Rachael Burford

Local Democracy Reporter