Increase in youth violence and knife crime across Northamptonshire, report finds
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The number of young people in Northamptonshire committing violent offences and found in possession of offensive weapons has increased, a report shows.
Northamptonshire Children’s Trust Youth Offending Service (YOS) has published a report into crime and youth justice in the region, outlining its strategy to reduce the level of young offenders. While there are fewer young people in the criminal justice system in Northamptonshire than in previous years, those who remain present a higher level of complexity and require more intensive support.
Areas of concern include a slight increase in levels of serious youth violence from 3.6 offences to 4.5 offences per 10,000 of the general 10-17 population from 2021 to 2022. Serious youth violence is described by the Youth Justice Board as “any drug, robbery or violence against the person offence that has a gravity score of five or more”.
Despite levels of youth violence in Northamptonshire remaining below the national average, the average re-offences per re-offender is significantly higher than that of regional and national levels – with an average of 5.08 re-offences in Northamptonshire compared to 3.63 across England and Wales.
Drug and knife crime has also been creeping back up in Northamptonshire, with the number of young people found in possession of a blade or knife in the first half of the year at an all-time high since 2017-18. There has also been a marked increase in the amount 10-15-year-olds as well as 17+ serious youth violence incidents in recent years.
YOS has committed to “addressing the rising concerns of serious youth violence”. This comes as YOS prepares to launch its Youth Justice Plan in collaboration with Northamptonshire councils. It aims to reduce youth crime by focusing on early prevention, tackling disproportionality in the criminal justice system, and responding to child exploitation.
West Northamptonshire Council heard the strategy in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (October 10). Councillor Sally Beardsworth, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said to the cabinet: “I know I bang on about prevention but, to me, it’s key to stopping children going wrong.
“Why are children at 17 getting into so much trouble? We need to work with families from a very young age to actually make sure that they know how to parent, and how to raise a child, and all the other things that come along with it.”
The report also found correlations between youth offenders and exposure to wellbeing and care services. 31.5 percent of young offenders have had contact with mental health services, 71.2 percent have struggled with substance misuse, 52.8 percent have had children’s services involved with the family and 58.9 percent have been identified as a child in need.
Stuart Lackenby, the executive director of people services, said: “We need to be really clear that our early help services are modelled around the experiences of our children today. That will mean we will look to fundamentally revamp the way we deliver early help services locally within West Northants.
“We already have examples whereby we are working with police and education colleagues, particularly in areas where we have high incidents of exclusions and suspensions from school. There’s a lot of work to do, but the LAP (local area partnership) approach has given us a real mechanism to integrate the way we take things forward.”
The cabinet recommended the Youth Justice Plan and it is to be taken to full council to be discussed further.