Wider support needed for Redbridge youth to avoid life of crime

Young people in Redbridge need much wider support to avoid a life of crime, the council says.

Its policy development group said a wide range of “legitimate recreational and cultural activities” could be an “effective safety blanket” for many at risk of getting involved in “serious violence,” as it looks to tackle antisocial behaviour in the borough.

The team, comprising nine borough councillors, made 21 recommendations to Redbridge Council in a lengthy report published this week.

It looked at gaps in services, as well as ways to improve the monitoring of pupils and how to “divert young people from crime and violence”.

According to Government data published this year, Redford ranks as the 19th worst borough for serious violence, even if drug offences have decreased.

Alongside working more closely with volunteers, council officers should focus on tackling the root causes of crime by recognising children who have suffered through traumatic events.

A traumatic childhood has been shown to lead to a higher likelihood of someone committing violent acts or becoming victimised, according to the report.

The committee said these considerations needed to be put “at the heart” of policy decisions in order to “put the needs of young people first”.

Council officers should also work closely with young people – and especially those in care – on how to spot early signs of exploitation and eventually “organically entice” their friends away from crime, the committee said.

Councillors said “empowering young people with the knowledge of how to act” would improve their ability to “tackle the issues themselves” and make “informed decisions around their own behaviour and future”.

Excluding pupils from schools should be treated as a “last resort,” the committee said. This would also prevent ‘off-rolling,’ which Ofsted defines as removing struggling pupils from the school roll in the “best interests of the school, rather than the pupil”.

Just 1 per cent of pupils who leave for an alternative school after being ‘off-rolled’ will achieve the benchmark of five good GCSEs, Tes education magazine reported in 2017.

Instead, schools should be better resourced to seclude troubled pupils while keeping them within mainstream education, councillors said.

However, that should not lead to a “zero-tolerance” approach to exclusion, with the committee adding: “There will be times when these practices are necessary for the safety of children and staff.”

Redbridge Council has been working to tackle antisocial behaviour since 2021. Specific task forces have been set up to deal with issues like street drinking, though local residents have doubted their effectiveness.

The policy development committee also advised the council to “strengthen its insight” into knife crime and violence involving women in the borough.

Earlier this year, the authority pledged to tackle gendered violence – from physical assaults to cat-calling – in the borough, saying it would hold perpetrators responsible.

Councillors also recommended encouraging the Violence Reduction Unit to bring its My Ends project to Redbridge. The City Hall programme, launched in 2021, sees councils bid for support to fund volunteer groups aimed at cutting down street violence.

The report will be formally presented to Redbridge Council at a meeting today.

Over each municipal year, which begins in May, it focuses on a theme relating to safety in the borough.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter