Posted: 14.09.20 at 19:25 by The Editor
THE significant level of youth violence and crime in Thurock has been highlighted in a report to be put before leading borough councillors this week.
In particular the report turns the spotlight on wards in Grays Riverside, Stanford-le-Hope West, West Thurrock & South Stifford, Aveley & Uplands, and Tilbury St Chads where there have been significant numbers of violent incidents involving young people aged 10 to 24 over the last two years.
It also focuses on the rise of gang related violence in the borough, saying gang-related activity in Thurrock is centred around the areas of Grays, Chafford Hundred and Purfleet, with three gangs known as C17 (Grays), C100 (Chafford) and P19 (Purfleet) operating.
The report says there is evidence of association between established London gangs and gang activity in Thurrock and this could be one explanation for the over-representation of black young people in Thurrock gangs.
An there is a rising trend in opiate and crack cocaine use with the estimated number of crack cocaine users in Thurrock aged 15-24 rising sharply.
Ian Wake, Thurrock Council’s director of Public health, will present his annual report to the authority’s cabinet on Wednesday (16 September) and in it he catalogues the rise in level of crime in recent years and suggests action is needed to counter the problem.
He refers to ‘solo working’ where different agencies, including the police and council - albeit well-meaning – are not working effectively together.
Mr Wake tells councillors that while overall rates of crime have fallen over the last 25 years, rates of recorded crimes of violence in Thurrock have risen sharply since 2013.
Rates of reported crimes of violence with injury and weapons offences where the victim was aged 10-24 in Thurrock rose from 2015/16, peaking in 2016/17 but have since dropped back slightly.
Ambulance data suggests that call outs to young people aged 10-24 for assault and stabbing/gunshot wounds have fallen from 2014-15 to 2018-19 but call outs for assault with serious injury have risen.
However, Youth Offending Service Records indicate that violence against the person offences and weapons offences committed by young people in Thurrock have risen sharply since 2013-14 to a peak in 2016-17 and fallen back only slightly.
Thurrock has the second highest rate of recorded violence with injury offences against young people aged 10-24 in Essex and the fourth highest rate of ambulance call outs to young people because of violence.
Where the suspect was identified, just over half of all suspects were also aged 10-24. The majority of victims and suspects were the same sex, with just over 63% of recorded violent incidents being male on male and a further 23% being female on female.
The most violent wards in terms of number of reported incidents against young people aged 10-24 in Thurrock over the last two years were Grays Riverside, Stanford-le-Hope West, West Thurrock and South Stifford, Aveley and Uplands, and Tilbury St. Chads with nine or more recorded incidents.
Mr Wake’s full and very detailed report which includes many shocking statistics can be read in full here.
In it Mr Wake identifies a number of gaps in the provision of an effective service to help combat the rise in violence.
They include lack of a comprehensive universal and targeted skills based offer in schools that builds youth skills in communication, empathy, problem solving, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. He says Thurrock Council Education and Public Health divisions should identify and share models of best practice across all schools using mechanisms.
Despite the many problems and the depth of ingrained violence, drug and gang culture, Mr Wake says there is hope for improvement but it will take a concerted and co-ordinated effort.
He concludes by identifying areas the council should lead on.
They include using a public health approach to address the issue of serious youth violence through:
Surveillance: Action to understand and monitor the problem at a population level including the effectiveness of a whole system approach.
Primary Prevention: Action to ‘inoculate’ the wider communication against the risk of becoming either a victim or perpetrator of serious violence.
Secondary Prevention: Intervention with those with existing risk factors to mitigate risk
Tertiary Prevention: ‘ Treatment’ of perpetrators and victims of violence to reduce further harm
The cabinet is being asked to note Mr Wake’s report and to consider how the findings and recommendations contained within the report can best be implemented and used to influence broader council strategy in this area.