While Parliament was in recess over the summer, I had more time to focus on some of the areas I care most about. This summer I have been working with the Youth Violence Commission's (YVC) strategic and academic partners in order to organise our next steps.
The commission is a cross party initiative which is seeking evidence based policy solutions to tackle the rise in youth violence we are seeing across the UK. The commission is made up of MPs from different political parties and across the political spectrum, but we are united in our recognition that addressing serious youth violence is the responsibility of all society. This is not an issue that we can afford to ignore – in London we have seen yet another spate of murders over the summer and indications so far suggest that knife crime and knife related deaths will be much higher in 2017 than in previous years.
The YVC stated from the outset that we would look at the issue of youth violence differently, by working closely with grassroots practitioners and listening carefully to the opinions of young people. Too often young voices are excluded from the debate, despite the fact that in many ways they are the most informed to speak on the matter. Next month we will be launching our Safer Lives Survey, a consultation into violence and the way it manifests in young people’s lives. The survey will be rolled out to thousands of young people in cities across the UK—in schools, youth clubs, Pupil Referral Units and prisons. We hope the findings from this survey will give us a better perspective on the different ways violence impacts many young people from an early age.
Alongside the survey, we have also been organising evidence sessions which will be taking place periodically throughout the next year. The commission will be hearing evidence from a variety of key stakeholders and practitioners in many different fields—from education, to public health, to policing. Our first evidence session, taking place next month, will be dedicated to community work and youth services. Ahead of this date, we are calling for anyone who has worked in this field or written on this subject to submit their ideas or research. The commission was established with the recognition that youth violence is a societal problem, and we will be leaving no stone unturned in our search for societal solutions.
Stay up to date with the work of the commission, or submit your ideas at: www.yvcommission.com