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Tackling tension between youth and police in inner city trouble spots

By: stagedoorscribbler - October 2, 2017

David Lammy MP

Labour MP David Lammy, who recently headed the inquiry into Racial Disproportionality and the Criminal Justice System, is among leading speakers at a Police and Youth Engagement Symposium hosted by the Tutu Foundation UK at the House of Lords next month.

The event, on Tuesday 10th October, will discuss the findings of an external evaluation of the Ubuntu Police Youth Roundtable Project which aims to diffuse tensions in high crime areas by encouraging positive dialogue between opposing factions. 

The project, which has been has  jointly funded by  the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and Sir John Cass's Foundation, will be of particular interest to David Lammy. Its sub-title is The Need For A New Approach.

Fortunately that new approach is already underway. A good example is Youth Futures, an initiative  founded by Joseph Duncan and a team of young leaders, youth workers and supporters in Southwark in January 2012 when funding cuts led to the closure of other local youth projects. Responding directly to the concerns of local young people who highlighted the lack of safe social spaces in the area, Youth Futures set about involving them in discussing the needs of the community. 

Five years on Youth Futures is seen as one big family, where values of respect, trust and understanding are practiced and supported. As they say themselves: “Our work can look like lots of different things, and is often spontaneous, unconventional and challenging.”

It is currently among those working on the Roundtable project with the Metropolitan Police and making significant inroads into  the challenge of improving community relations between young people and the police.

There is much work to do. David Lammy’s recent independent report showed that black people in the UK are four times more likely to be in prison given their proportion of the total population.

As well as costing the taxpayer some £309 million each year the disproportionate number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people ending up in the Criminal Justice System is alienating communities and breeding anger and mistrust.

David Lammy concludes that : “It is only through delivering fairness, rebuilding trust, and sharing responsibility that we will build the equal and just society so often spoken about.”

The Symposium on 10 October will be chaired by Lord McNally. Other notable speakers who have been at the forefront of understanding and addressing issues pertaining to young people and the Police. include: 

 Baroness Massey of Darwen, former Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children and the Police

Sir Hugh Orde OBE QPM, Former Head of ACPO and former Chief Constable of Northern Ireland

Patrick Williams, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and co-author of ‘Used and Abused: The problematic usage of gang terminology in the United Kingdom and its implications for ethnic minority youth’.

*Ubuntu is a South African philosophy based on our shared humanity and championed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 

* Clive Conway is chair of the Tutu Foundation UK