Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Tackling youth violence and knife crime in England and Wales - early intervention, the public health duty, and next steps for policing and prevention

Morning, Tuesday, 19th November 2019

Central London


This seminar will be a timely opportunity to look at the steps needed to tackle youth violence and knife crime, along with the progress made since the launch of the Serious Violence Strategy.

Delegates will look at key issues around early intervention and how best to safeguard vulnerable children and youths in the education system. It follows concerns over the impact of exclusions and off-rolling in schools raised by the Timpson Review, whose 30 recommendations have been agreed to in principle by the Department for Education.

Delegates will assess the commitments and progress made so far, as well as issues around holding schools to account for the pupils they exclude. The discussion will also be informed by the recent Ofsted report on safeguarding children in education from knife crime, which called for an increased role of local authorities in responding to and challenging permanent exclusions.

Those attending will also consider the educational options and support provided for young offenders and excluded students, with discussion expected on the establishment of the first ‘secure school’ in Medway - as well as the effectiveness and quality of alternative provision units.

They will also look at the role to be played by both government and community initiatives, such as youth zones, aimed at providing young people with social activities and skills development outside of education facilities. It follows concerns raised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime over links between youth service cuts and growing knife crime.

With the Government  allocating  more than £220m to early intervention projects - including the Youth Endowment Fund and the Early Intervention Youth Fund - delegates will assess the priorities for where the investment should be directed and how to best develop the evidence-base for methods of prevention.   

A year on from the launch of the Serious Violence Strategy, delegates will examine the impact and implementation of the initiatives, including the media campaigns, development of a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre and the work of the freshly established Serious Violence Taskforce.

Discussion will be informed by the recently released Home Affairs Committee report on serious youth violence.

Delegates will consider the criticisms made of the Serious Violence Strategy, as well as the recommendations for ringfenced resources for safeguarding partners, the creation of a common dataset for the Taskforce, and the allocation of a dedicated school police officer to all schools in areas with an above-average risk of serious youth violence.

The agenda will also draw out discussion on the funding and focus of policing.

This comes as the Government launch a drive to recruit 20,000 more frontline police officers over the next 3 years and dedicate an extra £100m funding for police forces, predominantly focused on the seven police forces where serious violence levels are highest. Delegates will look at the priorities for this funding, including the training of additional police forces and innovative knife crime detection technology.

As more extensive stop and search powers are rolled out to police forces nationwide and trials continue for facial recognition software, the strategies of modern and effective policing and how this intersects with rights to privacy is likely to be a key area for discussion.

Delegates will examine the requirements of the recently announced ‘public health duty’ for police, local councils, local health bodies, education representatives and youth offending services - including the adequacy of funding for these local bodies, how best to manage resources and how to ensure effective multi-agency working.

We expect discussion on the drafting of both the new legal requirements for public service providers and the amendments to existing legal duties for Community Safety Partnerships, and what it means for collaboration going forward - as well as analysis of suitable strategic partnership models and the benefits of collaboration together with best practice examples for information sharing.

In light of the Home Secretary allocating £35m to Police and Crime Commissioners in 18 local areas badly affected by serious violence to set up violence reduction units, attendees will consider the composition and role of these specialist organisations.

In particular, delegates are expected to consider what needs to be done to secure community engagement and support, including through grassroot organisations and individuals and families affected - drawing on experience from similar initiatives in Wales and Scotland.

Keynote Speakers

Charlie Taylor

Chair, Youth Justice Board

Lib Peck

Director, Violence Reduction Unit, Greater London Authority

Keynote Speakers

Lib Peck

Director, Violence Reduction Unit, Greater London Authority

Charlie Taylor

Chair, Youth Justice Board


Kate Osamor MP

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime

Rehman Chishti MP

Member, House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (subject to Parliamentary business)


Sheldon Thomas

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gangsline

Councillor Evelyn Akoto

Cabinet Member, Community Safety and Public Health, Southwark Council

Tony Lewis

Chief Executive, Unitas, Barnet Youth Zone

Mark Simmons

Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service

Councillor Richard Watts

Leader, Islington Council

Jane O’Brien

Director of Evidence and Evaluation, Youth Endowment Fund

Caroline Liggins

Associate, Criminal Defence Team and Head, Youth Team, Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors