Anti-knife crime and serious youth violence initiative extended
A major initiative to tackle knife and serious violent crime across the county has been extended by Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd.

An extra £178,000 has been awarded so four SOS St Giles’ Trust workers can carry on their intensive support to young people at risk of serious violence and criminal exploitation.

The funding is made up of £133,000 from the Commissioner’s Community Safety Grant and £45,000 from Hertfordshire District and Borough Councils.

It will be used to keep the youth workers in post until next April so they can carry on their early intervention and targeted help for those at risk.

   A Lives Not Knives event with (L-R) Chief Insp Steve O’Keefe, Sergeant Rachel Brown, PCC David Lloyd,  Detective Insp Anna Borella, Chief Constable Charlie Hall

Last year £280,000 was pledged to create the scheme across the county to safeguard hundreds of children and young adults following a successful pilot in Broxbourne, which already had a case worker.

In 2019/20 the scheme provided support to 120 children and young adults, including 80 on an intensive basis.

Mr Lloyd said: “Although knife crime and serious youth violence is low in Hertfordshire it is a high concern among residents. Although when it does occur it can have tragic consequences and spreads fear among communities.

“Nationally this type of crime has risen and we have seen signs of this in Hertfordshire. The public want and expect action to be taken. This scheme has made a real difference in diverting children and young adults away from crime.

“Preventing crime and violence happening is vastly better and more effective than dealing with victims and perpetrators after an incident has occurred.”

“We have five St Giles staff that are out there on the frontline working with youths and their families to divert them away from crime.”

Andy Stovold, Head of Community Partnerships at Three Rivers District Council, who leads the project on behalf of the other districts in Hertfordshire said: ““We want to prevent violence, child exploitation, and give young people opportunities for positive self-expression and help bring communities closer together.

“We continue to educate young people about crime and encourage them to explore their decisions, misconceptions and experiences, to positively enhance their future. The project forms a key part of the Hertfordshire Serious Violence Strategy, complementing the work of many other agencies across the County”

Cases are referred to the SOS workers by bodies including Police Staff, Schools and Education Support Centres, Children’s Services, Family Support Workers, Housing Providers, District and Borough Community Safety Units, Hospitals, Herts Young Homeless, and other voluntary sector providers through five Multi-agency Youth Action Panels that have been established across the County by the Project.

Support plans are co-ordinated by the panels to ensure that all appropriate help is offered to the young people and their families that are referred in.

Before the end of March 2021, the aim is to work with a further 150 children and young adults, including 90 on an intensive basis.

St Giles Trust is a charity helping people to change their lives through support and guidance. The aim to help them become positive contributors to local communities.

As well as delivering assemblies around topics such as gangs, county lines and child sexual exploitation, case workers – some of whom are former gang members – work closely with children and young people, and their families, who might be at risk of becoming involved with gangs.

In 2018 Broxbourne Community Safety Partnership was awarded a grant of £256,975, spread over three years, in one of the largest awards ever provided by the Commissioner.

The Police and Crime Commissioner oversees a Community Safety Grant which supports work with partner organisations (such as community safety partnerships) that have a vital part to play in keeping Hertfordshire’s communities safe.

Grant applicants are asked to consider how their proposed projects align with the aims of the Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan, as well as with local priorities.

The Commissioner attaches conditions to the grant, which help him oversee how well the money is spent on behalf of local communities and to ensure that there is transparency and accountability. Annual reports are requested which provide information on progress and evidence of effectiveness.

Grant recipients need to make sure their activities focus on the needs of the public, particularly victims of crime, ensuring that offenders make amends and pay back for the cost of crime, including setting out plans to apply greater business sense. In delivering against the Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan, the Commissioner envisages that these grants will contribute towards securing crime and disorder reduction in Hertfordshire.