Two teenagers' legs dangle over a wall, both wearing jeans and converse trainers. The wall has bright graffiti on. One person is in black jeans with black trainers, and the other person is in blue jeans with light blue-grey trainers.

Tackling knife crime and youth violence in Waltham Forest

Published: 11 May 2023
Filed under: Crime and community safety

The solution to the problem of knife crime and youth violence is complex and requires a strong partnership response from the police, the Council and the community together.

When it comes to preventing violence, evidence tells us that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life are critical to their future physical health, emotional capability and resilience.

The Council has already identified that early intervention is key to addressing the root causes of violence and we independently fund family centres, providing parents and carers with the integrated, wraparound support they need to give children the best possible start in life. 

This family support is crucial to preventing a range of harms, including violence, in our communities, and there are a number of fantastic initiatives in place through our Violence Reduction Partnership

We also fund a range of projects to support young people and families. These include:

  • On-street engagement with young people through Streetbase and Spark2Life. They deliver a programme recruiting and training local residents as community mentors, to support young people who may be vulnerable to gang involvement and exploitation.
  • Our Space4All programme gives young people safe places to spend time in, something we know is a priority for them. We currently have sessions running in 11 spaces across the borough. New locations are due to open soon in Higham Hill, Wood Street, Walthamstow Community Hub and at Walthamstow Stadium in South Chingford. The programme is a partnership between the council and local community youth organisations, including Project Zero, Break Tha Cycle, Lymore Gardens, Pin PointCreative Engagement Services/Young Urban Arts Foundation, Worth Unlimited, WF Community Hub and Treasure Me Kids.
  • Personal safety and life skills sessions in primary and secondary schools, as well as providing specialist support for young people at risk of exclusion and exploitation.
  • Commissioned by us, Project Zero provides positive activities for young people to get involved with, including media production, free boxing coaching, pizza nights, drama clubs and more, delivered from the Outset Centre in Walthamstow.
  • A support service in Whipps Cross Hospital for people aged 10 to 25 who are victims of gun or knife crime.
  • A Parent Champion programme providing peer support to parents of children vulnerable to exploitation and violence.
  • Gangs Police Officer embedded in Youth and Family Resilience Service, and community gang prevention ambassadors trained by We Can Work It Out who make referrals for young people at risk.
  • Young Advisors working with us to improve services for young people, including the Youth Independent Advisory Group (YIAG), some of whom are ex-offenders, victims of crime or come from areas where youth violence is a part of their lives. They run regular sessions at schools, pupil referral units and the youth offending service and engage with the police on how they deal with young people. 
  • Ask Us supports young people in Waltham Forest to improve and maintain their life chances by offering positive alternatives to gang life.
  • Escaping Victimhood is a charitable company founded by criminal justice professionals concerned that there was little robust support available to victims of crime after court processes are completed.

We can all play our part to rid violence from our streets. That can include reporting any concerns you have about a young person you know who has been harmed, exploited or exposed to violence, or volunteering as a community mentor.

The following services are available for young people affected by bereavement due to knife crime and youth violence:

  • Kooth provides free, safe and anonymous online support and counselling. The whole team are made up of friendly and experienced individuals who want to help.
  • YoungMinds are the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health.
  • The Good Grief Trust offers useful information, helplines, advice and encouraging stories from others to help people dealing with bereavement.
  • Victim Support’s youth programme helps children and young people cope with the impact and effects of crime. Young people do not have to report the crime to the police to get support.
  • Childline provides 24 hour, 7 days a week counsellor support, including 1-2-1 online chat. They listen and support young people with anything they would like to talk about.
  • SAMM provides a wide range of peer support services to people bereaved by murder and manslaughter. There is no time limit on becoming a member. Our services are open to everyone regardless of how long ago they were bereaved.
  • Cruse helps people through one of the most painful times in life – with bereavement support, information and campaigning.
  • Winston’s Wish provides emotional and practical bereavement support to children, young people and those who care for them. They were the UK’s first childhood bereavement charity and have been supporting grieving children and young people since 1992.
  • The Loss Project are a creative bunch that works across the UK and beyond. They connect people in local communities through the universal experiences of grief and loss.