Street peacemakers turn lives around in the war against knife crime in Notts

A community service that sees youth workers take to the streets of Nottingham to interact with gangs and vulnerable young people is helping to prevent violence, a new report has found.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry and the county’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) commissioned Nottingham Trent University (NTU) to undertake an independent review of the Breaking Barriers Building Bridges (BBBB) programme.

The programme, funded by the VRU and supported by Nottingham BID and partners, was launched in 2019/20 with a specific focus on the Clumber Street area of Nottingham – a high-crime hotspot identified as the “the busiest shopping street in Europe”.

It deploys highly-trained youth workers – many of whom have lived experience of street violence – into city streets where youths congregate to deliver street mediation services and disrupt suspected gang activity as well as sign post young people to support services to prevent them being lured into violence.

 

 

The review, led by Professor Lucy Betts, Dr Sarah Buglass and Rosie Daly from the Department of Psychology at NTU, was unveiled to the public on Friday (23rd July) in a special event at Nottingham Forest FC hosted by by VRU Director Dave Wakelin, alongside BBBB co-founder Maxine Cockett, Nicholas Randall QC, the Chairman of Nottingham Forest, Graham Moran BEM, CEO of Nottingham Forest Community Trust, Dame Professor Liz Fradd, Lucy Stanford of Nottingham BID and representatives from the City Council, Nottinghamshire Police, and Nottingham Forest Community Trust.

There was also some indication that this positive impact extends to the adjacent hours before and after the outreach team operated.

This had led to a reduction in reported crimes in 2019 compared to 2018.

The report also found trust and credibility was key to the outreach team’s success in building relationships with young people.

Clients described cases where the outreach team had intervened to de-escalate violence and others were confident that should a challenging experience arise, the outreach team would be able to manage the situation effectively.

There was also recognition the outreach team’s presence and availability offered reassurance and helped local youths, especially members of the black community.

Responding to the report, VRU Director Dave Wakelin said: “The VRU is hugely grateful to Maxine and the BBBB team for their passion and dedication in supporting the young people of Nottingham. Their skill, credibility and the trust that they have built with the community and partners has enabled the outreach intervention to impact both on trends in serious violence and positive outcomes for those who may have otherwise followed a more negative path.

“Furthermore, we would like to thank Professor Lucy Betts and the team at Nottingham Trent University for undertaking this evaluation and particularly for their perseverance when Covid-19 restrictions made engaging with participants a complex task. This report demonstrates the significant value and crime reduction impact of what can be achieved when we work together to invest in community led outreach interventions.”

Commissioner Henry said: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone involved in this project, particularly the VRU’s inspirational director, Dave Wakelin, who has staunchly supported innovative projects such as this, which make a big difference. I am really encouraged by NTU’s findings which provide strong evidence street-based mediation services really work in tackling violence. We know that because the young people themselves have told us this is the case.

“Building Bridges Breaking Barriers is an example of partnership work at its best and demonstrates the enormous value of what can be achieved when we unite minds and resources to keep vulnerable young people safe. The young people themselves have felt hugely reassured by the presence of the outreach workers and I have no doubt they have changed lives.

“Helping young people overcome the barriers that prevent them from flourishing is key to reducing violence in the long-term. There is a clear desire for the scheme not only to continue but to expand and this is something I am keen to look into alongside my colleagues at the VRU.”

Lucy Stanford, Director of Operations at Nottingham BID commented: “We have a responsibility to work with our partners across the city to ensure Nottingham is a safe and well managed city. Therefore, we are delighted to support the Breaking Barriers Building Bridges programme with funding in order for them to deliver their valuable work."

"Along with our levy payers, we really value the work of the outreach intervention to help young people and reduce the possibility that they, or others, may come to harm, which in turn reduces demand on other services such as the police.”

 

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