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Expanded plans to tackle serious youth violence unveiled

Details of the next phase of the Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP), including a specialist team to help tackle gang related violence, were unveiled by Home Secretary Alan Johnson today.

The next phase of TKAP, which was expanded in March to tackle all forms of serious violence amongst 13 – 24 year olds, is operating in 16 police force areas in England and Wales. TKAP is one of the cross-government initiatives to tackle youth violence alongside the Youth Crime Action Plan.

Intelligence from the TKAP police forces suggests that while the likelihood of young people being involved in serious violence remains rare, the risks may vary between age groups. For example younger teenagers are more likely to be affected on the street, particularly in the time after school, whereas older teenagers and people in their early twenties are more likely to be affected when out and about in or outside bars and clubs, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.

The TKAP Phase II strategy includes:

* Local Action – police forces in each TKAP area delivering a targeted programme of action to tackle serious youth violence;

* Better Intelligence - 100 hospitals to be sharing anonymous data on their knife related admissions with police by the end of this year, with £220,000 for 13 hospital trusts to drive this work;

* Awareness raising - a £2 million multi-media marketing campaign to raise awareness among young people of the consequences of carrying a knife and harness the power of peer influence;

* Intervention - roll-out of the eight-part Knife Possession Prevention Programme, which includes education on the dangers of carrying knives, the law and the impact of knife crime on victims and communities across all TKAP areas;

* Tackling Gangs – £100,000 for specialist team to work with local areas to tackle gang related problems led by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO); and

* Prevention – work to prevent homelessness among young people, and their families, affected by gang activity.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

“It is encouraging to see a reduction in knife related violence and in provisional hospital admission numbers for sharp instrument assaults in the last year. We are also seeing in many cases a more pronounced reduction in the TKAP target age group and areas.

“This is not a problem we can solve overnight but we remain totally committed to tackling youth violence that’s why we have expanded the target age group for TKAP and why we are rolling out projects to a total of 16 police force areas to address local issues. By working together – government, police, families and communities - we can make a difference and tackle the culture that can lead to violence.”

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:

“We are determined to do everything in our power to tackle the menace of knife crime and ensure people feel safe walking around our towns and cities. We have introduced tougher penalties and have made it clear that anyone aged 16 or over should be prosecuted at their first offence.

“This tough stance is already having a positive impact - latest figures show that more people are going to jail, and for longer, when caught carrying a knife.

“The message is clear that if you carry a knife, there are serious consequences and you could end up behind bars.”

To better understand the complex issue of serious youth violence, information from a variety of sources was collected before and during TKAP Phase I. The results, published today, show that:

* For victims aged 19 and under, there was a 17 per cent reduction (comparing July 2008 - March 2009 with the same period in the previous year) in the number of recorded violence offences that involved sharp instruments (excluding robbery); although the overall figures are dominated by a few large forces, more than half of the TKAP areas reported a reduction.

* Building on previous reductions, provisional NHS hospital admission statistics indicate a 32 per cent drop in admissions for assault with a sharp object aged 19 and under during Phase 1 in TKAP areas (comparing July 2008 – February 2009 with the same period in the previous year), compared with an 18 per cent reduction in non-TKAP areas.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Phase 1 monitoring report will be available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/whatsnew1.html from 9.30am, Wednesday 22 July. Due to a number of methodological limitations caution must be applied when interpreting these trends and directly attributing change to TKAP.

2. Examples of local activity:

Merseyside Operation Leopard – an overt videoing operation targeting people identified by communities as being involved in gang related criminality. Known violent offenders will be followed whilst in public and their behaviour overtly filmed. The footage will be used to secure Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders as well as for intelligence purposes.

Greater Manchester Police ‘Tethered Blimp’ – the ‘tethered blimp’ with a CCTV camera can be deployed alongside knife arches. Experience in Bolton shows that knife carriers spot the knife arches and discard the knives. The blimp is then used to identify and monitor these 'disposal spots' – and then to identify and apprehend the people who discarded those weapons.

3. TKAP launched in June 2008 (aimed at young people aged 13 – 19) with ten police forces – Metropolitan, Essex, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Merseyside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, South Wales and Thames Valley. In November 2008 four more were added as second tier forces - Bedfordshire, Northumbria, South Yorkshire and British Transport Police. In March 2009 it was further extended to include Kent and Hampshire.

7. TKAP is sending out a clear message that if an individual carries a knife, they are more likely to get caught, prosecuted and receive a tough punishment. It has also accelerated educational programmes and diversionary activity to stop young people becoming involved in knife crime in the first place, and reassured the public that we are doing all that we can to keep knives off our streets, with high visibility enforcement activity to back this message up.

8. For more information call Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.

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