A review has praised the work of individuals and organisations in Wolverhampton to steer young people away from a life of violent crime – and highlighted the responsibility of everyone to support the city’s young people.

The Scrutiny Review, Rewriting the Narrative - Youth Violent Crime, makes a total of 10 recommendations to support, enhance and share the good work already taking place in the city, and to seek assurances that, wherever possible, successful initiatives are supported and enabled to continue. 

The cross party review showcases good practice, including projects delivered by Catch 22, Girls Allowed, Eyes to Success and Believe to Achieve, along with the good work being carried out by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Youth Offending and Community Safety teams, and the successful WV Holiday Squad to provide extra activities for children and young people during the school holidays.

It also highlights the need to increase employment opportunities for young people, giving them skills and role models which in turn will help mitigate some of the risk factors associated with violence.

The review sought to make recommendations which would help reduce violent crime involving young people and strengthen prevention and resilience by identifying the risk factors and causes of violent crime. It gathered information and evidence in order to understand the current situation regarding violent youth crime in the city, and spoke to numerous witnesses and experts from local organisations, groups and communities about their experiences. 

Councillor Obaida Ahmed, who chaired the Scrutiny Review, said: "Nationally, youth violence has become a hugely contentious issue and the debate about the causes, extent and solutions seems to constantly occupy the media. Rarely though do we pause to challenge our own reactions, assumptions or the opinions we form about the issue. That's why we undertook this review.  

"No one is born violent. Violence is preventable, and it is often the circumstances surrounding an individual at an early age that either puts them at a higher risk of becoming violent or provides them with the tools to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life. 

"We found that good work, good initiatives, good people and good organisations are already in existence in Wolverhampton and are working hard to support our young people and help them make the right choices in life. This good work needs to be sustained, supported and where possible rolled out further and that is the focus of the recommendations of this review, particularly around ensuring successful community groups and youth empowerment services are able to continue the exemplary work they currently do."

She added: "We must all take responsibility for our young people and their futures, and together provide them with the opportunities, tools and skills they need to make the right decisions at the right time. This responsibility rests with us all."

The findings of the review are due to be presented to members of the council's Cabinet tomorrow (Wednesday 22 January, 2020). Councillors will be asked to endorse the recommendations and consider the allocation of resources including longer term funding and commissioning of services for those at risk of committing violence, becoming a victim of violence, or both. 

The review will also contribute towards a wider programme of work being developed by the City of Wolverhampton Council, in particular the focus on young people that the leader of the council, Councillor Ian Brookfield, has made a priority.