Kent and Medway have secured £1.3m from the Government’s Supporting Against Youth Crime Fund to help prevent young people becoming involved in gangs and youth violence.
The award will enable a partnership of Kent County Council (KCC), Medway Council, Kent Police, Met Police and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner to deliver a collaborative two-year project to reduce the impact of gang activity in north Kent and Medway and protect children at risk of criminal exploitation.
Kent will use the funding to provide support for vulnerable people across the county through peer mentoring and community support workers, linking up services for those who may otherwise become involved in knife crime and gang violence. By educating young people on the dangers of joining a gang and by providing peer mentors for young people at risk, communities will become more resilient and able to resist gang involvement.
Police will also receive more resources to better use intelligence to counter county lines drug trafficking and exploitation, while funds will also be allocated to provide training sessions for multi-agency staff, young people, parents throughout Kent and Medway to raise awareness on the risks of criminal child exploitation.
Continuing to keep Medway a safe place to live, work, learn and visit
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, said: “We are delighted that our collaborative bid with Kent was successful and that we have been awarded the full funding for such an important topic. We will be working closely with Kent to ensure we continue to effectively deal with issues which could affect our young people, including crime and violence.
“We are already working with youth groups and in schools to educate young people about the dangers of crime, and the support services available to help them if they have any concerns. We plan to use this funding to further support our work and continue to keep Medway a safe place to live, work, learn and visit.”
A collaborative approach to protecting young people
Roger Gough, Kent County Council's cabinet member for children, young people and education: “I am delighted Kent County Council was able to lead a successful bid for this funding and I am grateful for the support provided by our partners throughout this process.
“The exploitation of some of Kent’s most vulnerable young people by criminals is a serious issue and one which cannot be tackled by organisations working in isolation.
“By working closely with Kent Police and other authorities across Kent, we have created a good framework for tackling this issue in the form of the Kent and Medway Gangs Strategy. This funding will help us continue to take a collaborative approach to protecting Kent’s young people.”
Offering real alternatives for children and young people
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, added: “Carrying a knife should never be a rite of passage. For too long, it has been normalised behaviour for too many teenagers in our communities.
“Every violent incident, every injury, every young life lost is a tragedy that has devastating consequences for all involved.
“The early intervention strategies set out by the projects we are funding offer real alternatives to children and young people who may otherwise become involved in gang crime.”
The funding will be channelled through the Troubled Families programme, which helps vulnerable families with a wide range of problems including absence from school, adults out of work and families affected by domestic violence.
The key aims for the Supporting Families Against Youth Crime project are:
- To reduce the risk of criminal exploitation for children and young people.
- To improve the wellbeing and resilience of vulnerable young people.
- To increase the quantity and quality of trusted relationships between young people and adults.
- To increase community resilience and responses to county lines.