Developing a public health framework around youth knife crime

Criminologist Dr James Alexander will evaluate Camden's Youth Safety Task Force which advocates early intervention and multifaceted support systems for at-risk young people.

Date: 27 October 2020

A £10,000 grant will enable Dr James Alexander, in partnership with Camden Council, to deliver a major project focused on youth safety. The project will assess the progress that has been made towards the recommendations made by the Council’s Youth Safety Task Force, which advocates for the recognition of youth knife crime as a public health issue. 

The public health model recognises that many different factors affecting young people contribute to different behaviours. It also accepts that early intervention is vital to mitigate against the factors that make involvement in youth crime more likely, and for support to have a positive influence. 

The recommendations made by the task force include promoting early help services to families including parent-led programmes, supporting police engagement with young people and finding ways to foster greater trust, and developing programmes to equip young people with the skills and resilience needed to make positive choices, with a focus on those moving from primary to secondary school. 

Throughout the study, there will be a focus on understanding the role that race disproportionality plays in relation to youth safety within the borough.

As Dr Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, explains: “Not only will there be an analysis of the representation of different ethnicities within the offending cohort, the study will also seek to explore why any over-representation may exist.

“The research will include an analysis of whether there is any disproportionality in terms of which groups different interventions are targeting and whether any identified targeting is justified. There will also be a consideration of whether those initiating interventions are representative of the targeted service users.”

Dr Alexander will be working with a number of local partners, including schools, youth clubs, safeguarding hubs and the Camden Youth Offending Team (YOT) to assess the implementation of the Youth Safety Task Force strategy and to support further action plans going forwards. 

hand holding a knife