Thursday briefing: Could a new plan to tackle the causes of crime help protect vulnerable youth? | Young people

Good morning.

This week the advocacy group Liberty published a report calling for a community-led approach to tackle serious youth violence. “Holding our own: A guide to non-policing solutions to serious youth violence” (pdf) was put together with nine organisations that specialise in youth services, racial justice, mental health and policing, and marks the start of a campaign calling for investment in social infrastructure and the reduction of police powers. The authors of the report make it clear that they believe that punitive measures are not curbing youth violence. Instead, they say, the focus should be shifted to community-led approaches that include investment in mental-health services and provision of youth services.

The report does not shy away from the reality that youth violence has risen or remained high in certain areas, and that young people are at risk and have died as a result. But they also want to avoid falling into the political traps that have been used as a justification to over-police certain groups, particularly Black communities.

In today’s newsletter, Jodie Beck, the policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, unpacks what the report is about and why it matters in this moment. That’s right after the headlines.

Five big stories

  1. Conservatives | Officials at the Department of Health have “raised concerns” about Steve Barclay’s alleged conduct towards civil servants. Sources told the Guardian that senior civil servants in the department had informally complained about the health secretary and privately referred to “bullying” and other “bad behaviour” towards his staff. The alleged conduct has been denied by Barclay’s allies.

  2. Climate crisis | Ocean temperatures have hit unprecedented highs, with scientists stating the Earth has reached “uncharted territory”. The rapid acceleration in the last month is an anomaly that experts have yet to explain.

  3. Immigration | The government’s flagship illegal migration bill passed its third reading in the Commons last night by 289 votes to 230 and will go to the House of Lords where it is expected to face greater opposition.

  4. Belize | Jasmine Hartin, the Canadian socialite and former partner of the son of billionaire and Conservative party grandee Lord Michael Ashcroft, has pleaded guilty in a court in Belize to the negligent manslaughter of police officer Henry Jemmott in 2021.

  5. Politics | Former Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has been expelled from the party after comparing the use of Covid vaccines to the Holocaust. Bridgen said his expulsion “only confirms the culture of corruption, collusion and cover-ups which plagues our political system”.

In depth: How to steer kids from ‘the path of criminalisation’

Police perform a stop and search in harrow
Photograph: Stuart Emmerson/Alamy

Pointing to the recent spate of cases that expose abuse of power in the police, such as the murder of Sarah Everard and the strip-search of Child Q, Beck explains that this report is part of a larger conversation about British policing. “We wanted to intervene in a way that understands that in order to create thriving communities and to really respond to harm when it happens we have to grapple with the powers of the police.”

Community-led solutions

A key issue in the report is the “gutting” of youth services over the past decade. “Funding has been systematically withdrawn under austerity, and those services either don’t exist or they’re really struggling,” Beck said. Almost half of London’s youth clubs have closed in the last decade and spending on youth services in England and Wales has been cut by 70% in real terms.

Youth services are not just about giving young people a space to hang out with their friends or express their creativity, they are also important refuges for those who are more vulnerable. “It provides the space to build really meaningful relationships with the practitioners who are there, who are not only teaching them about music or art, but they’re also giving them practical and emotional guidance,” said Beck. One such organisation is Art Against Knives, which provides an alternative reporting mechanism for young people who might not have a trusted adult in their life. “Having those really vital pieces of community infrastructure means that young people aren’t left isolated when they are experiencing difficulties,” Beck says.

Younger people at a youth club in east London.
Younger people at a youth club in east London. Photograph: Paul Doyle/Alamy


Alongside provision of youth services, the report goes into a lot of depth about the ways in which the disciplinary measures in schools harm children and teenagers. Analysis by the Runnymede Trust found that there were almost 1,000 police officers operating within UK schools, particularly in areas with higher numbers of pupils who are eligible for free school meals. The report also found that there were plans to increase the number of school-based officers by 7%. “This almost sets kids up on a path of criminalisation,” Beck says.

The decisions made by the schools themselves can also have lifelong repercussions – the exclusion to prison pipeline has been well documented in the UK. One report found that 60% of those who had received a court sentence had been excluded from school. Liberty’s report describes an “an increasing dependence on policing, surveillance and criminalisation” in schools, which has led to an increase in all forms of exclusion. In response, it calls for a reframing of children’s challenging behaviour in the school environment, to take into account the “wider framework of oppression”. Beck acknowledges that being this accommodating is unlikely to be possible while teachers are dealing with larger classes, smaller budgets and increasing workloads. Investment is needed across the broad spectrum of education.

The demands

The report’s demands are separated into two categories: today and tomorrow. The first category is based on government interventions that, in theory, could happen immediately. “The government could remove police from schools today, they could end cuts to youth services today,” Beck said. Tomorrow, on the other hand, is based on building an alternative future, as she explains: “Creating an emancipatory education system based on parent support or building new structures of support for people experiencing mental health crises takes time and real leadership.”

It is not just about moving away from policing but also reimagining how services respond to people in crisis. One such example is mental health detention, which can be deeply traumatising for people who experience it but is often used as an alternative to sending someone in crisis to police custody – “but that still can replicate the very harms of policing in itself”.

A non-punitive and proactive response could be to do something called “pod mapping” – the practice of helping to identify the networks that they have or need so when they are experiencing a mental health crisis they have a clear plan in place. “We are thinking about how we can prevent these kinds of crisis moments from happening in the first place. And if they do happen, how can we minimise harm,” Beck says.

The point of the report is not to try to eliminate violence, Beck says. “We’re not naive to the fact that harm happens but we also do not want to treat it as an inevitability. The role of the report is holding space for that nuance.”

What else we’ve been reading

Journalist Kieran Yates, who has written about lifelong renting.
Journalist Kieran Yates, who has written about lifelong renting. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian
  • Serial renter Kieran Yates (above) has lived everywhere from over a car showroom to someone’s floor – more than 25 places before she turned 30. Ahead of her book All the House I’ve Ever Lived In, she takes a personal tour through the housing crisis, highlighting how it hollows out communities and arguing that policy change is only the first step towards ending housing precarity. Craille Maguire Gillies, production editor, newsletters

  • During the pandemic, New York City issued an unprecedented suspension on evictions as tens of thousands of people fell behind on rent. Mallika Kaushal writes about what it’s like to be a housing lawyer now that moratorium is over and evictions are soaring. “This is my job, to stop the bleeding. I want to make sure the worst possible outcome doesn’t happen.” Nimo

  • Keza MacDonald asks if a brutal new police “bodycam” shoot ’em up game is too realistic, in the gaming newsletter Pushing Buttons. Living in a world where deepfakes and AI-generated photos are “scrambling our ability to tell what’s real from what’s not”, she argues, it can make for uncomfortable playing. (Sign up to Pushing Buttons here for more on gaming.) Craille

  • As Ncuti Gatwa gears up to bring the world a new Doctor Who, Lauren Cochrane wrote the piece we have all been waiting for: a definitive ranking of the best and worst dressed Time Lords. Nimo

  • A big polluter turns out to be one you can’t even see: bitcoin. Generating cryptocurrencies requires a huge amount of electricity, often traced to fossil fuels. Erum Salam outlines how a few changes in code could lead to a greener approach to crypto. Not everyone is convinced. Craille

Yesterday’s newsletter was missing a link to the story about Lawrence Okolie, a former McDonald’s employee who became a boxer – and ended up a champion. Read about Okolie here.

skip past newsletter promotion


Erling Haaland of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their fourth goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC
Erling Haaland of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their fourth goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC Photograph: Alex Livesey/Danehouse/Getty Images

Football | Arsenal’s Premier League dreams were crushed after Manchester City won 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal are still top of the table but City are only two points back and with two games in hand. Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest climbed out of the relegation zone after their 3-1 victory against Brighton. Liverpool enjoyed a third consecutive win after they beat West Ham 2-1 at the London Stadium. Sheffield United secured a promotion to the Premier League after defeating West Brom 2-0.

Tennis | British No 1 Emma Raducanu has withdrawn from the Madrid Open because of a hand injury hours before she was due on court. As a result, Raducanu is likely to fall outside the WTA’s Top 100 for the first time since her surprise 2021 US Open triumph.

Olympics | An anti-Olympics collective is aiming to disrupt next year’s Paris Games by recruiting fake volunteers who would either withdraw at the last minute or try to disrupt events from within. The group and other critics of the Paris Olympics say the event will negatively affect the environment and benefit big businesses and elites, rather than local people.

The front pages

Guardian front page, Thursday 27 April 2023

“‘Concerns raised’ over Barclay’s conduct towards civil servants” is the Guardian’s lead story this morning. “Invitations to put you off your coronation quiche” – upset over the guest list in the Daily Mail, while the Daily Telegraph provides an example: “Architect of Hong Kong crackdown to attend coronation”. The Daily Express has “Suella: I’ll put more police boots on the ground”. The Daily Mirror’s front page lead is “Russell murders shock – Bellfield: I’m the killer”. “Post scandal victims die without getting payout” – the Times on the historical wrongful accusations of fraud against post office operators. “Health warning over popular weight loss drug sold illegally on Facebook” – that’s the i while the Financial Times reports “Call of Duty maker ⁦Activision rails at UK for barring $75bn Microsoft deal”. “I’m here to get my life back” – the Metro’s headline about E Jean Carroll runs under a strapline, “Trump rape accuser in court”.

Today in Focus

The former first minister Nicola Sturgeon is surrounded by journalists as she returns to the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh.
Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Funding, forensics – and a fridge freezer? The investigation into the SNP

Just a few months ago the SNP, with Nicola Sturgeon at the helm, looked almost untouchable. Now a fraud investigation into the party has caused that image to dramatically unravel

Cartoon of the day | Steve Bell

Steve Bell on the king’s fortune v his subjects’ tightening pursestrings – cartoon
Illustration: Steve Bell/The Guardian

The Upside

A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad

Children during a swimming lesson in London.
Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

A new scheme will see temporary pools opened in areas of the UK where large numbers of children are unable to swim. Olympic swimmers including Ellie Simmonds and Adam Peaty are among the ambassadors of a new pop-up programme by Speedo, which will begin in the West Midlands. It aims to reverse a decline in the popularity of swimming among young people, which has been exacerbated by the closure of almost 400 pools in England since 2010.

Ian Carey, CEO of Active Black Country, hopes the pools can provide children “with the skillsets they need to develop a positive, lifelong affinity with the water. Inspiring a love and an ability to swim at an early age is critical in tackling the low levels of swimming attainment in our region.”

Sign up here for a weekly roundup of The Upside, sent to you every Sunday

Bored at work?

And finally, the Guardian’s puzzles are here to keep you entertained throughout the day – with plenty more on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. Until tomorrow.

Source link

Home  Articles  Disclaimer  Contact Us