The government is to double the funding for an early intervention scheme tackling violence among young people, as part of a “public health” approach to combatting knife crime and other offences.
The money for the early intervention youth fund, which was announced in April by Amber Rudd as home secretary, will be increased from £11m to £22m over two years, her successor, Sajid Javid, said.
The fund was unveiled as part of the wider strategy to tackle serious violent offences using methods that go beyond policing and focus more on early intervention. The initiative also aims to tackle the drugs market, including for crack cocaine, which is seen as a key driver of violence.
The fund is designed to pay for projects that seek to keep young people away from violence in the first place, using a local focus and according to needs.
Police and crime commissioners in England and Wales will be able to bid for funding from Monday, as will the deputy mayors in London and Greater Manchester who serve that function in their cities.
The announcement said the fund was an example of “the public health, or multiple strand, approach” to combatting serious violence.
Such an approach had been particularly effective in Scotland, where the “proactive policies” with young people and gangs have helped, coupled with laws to make jail terms the norm for carrying a knife, to significantly reduce knife offences. Forty children and teenagers were killed in homicides involving a knife in Scotland between April 2006 and April 2011, as against eight between 2011 and 2016.
As concern grows about the rising number of knife killings in London involving young people the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said last month that the capital needed to focus on more preventative work.
The majority of serious knife offenders were “people who have suffered some kind of adverse experience of a significant sort when they are young and/or have limited or problematic family lives and parenting, all things that can lead to other negative outcomes and not just being subject to, or causing, serious violence to somebody”, Dick told the London assembly.
Javid said: “Intervening early in the lives of vulnerable young people can help focus their talents on positive activities and steer them away from the dangers of serious violence. The fund will support groups at the heart of our communities who educate and interact with youths, and provide them with an alternative to crime.”