The Director of Public Health
joined the meeting at 8.45pm.
The Director of Public Health introduced the report and stated that it had been completed by the previous Director of Public Health in 2019/20 and since then the Violence and Vulnerability Board (VVB), which had been set up in the summer, had begun working to take forward the recommendations. She stated that the VVB had held two meetings so far, which had established governance processes and the future work programme, ensuring that they added value and did not duplicate work. She stated that direct action had been undertaken with the perpetrators and victims of youth violence, and areas of further work had been identified, such as exclusions. She stated that the report had identified four areas of work, and the VVB had added a fifth area regarding raising awareness. She explained that the four areas were:
1. Surveillance, which was mainly undertaken by the police, and information was then pulled together by the public health team. There had been some progress in this area, but the team had had difficulty in recruiting an experienced data analyst. A data analyst had now started this week who would develop a predictive model of violence.
2. Primary prevention, which improved protective factors and reduced risk through work with parents and schools.
3. Secondary prevention, which included youth outreach work in schools.
4. Tertiary prevention, which reduced harm and took action on gangs.
The Director of Public Health stated that a number of projects were being developed and provided a comprehensive programme.
The Chair thanked the Director of Public Health for the comprehensive report and asked for clarification regarding the levels of prevention. The Director of Public Health explained that the levels of prevention were developed using a public health model, and gave the example in a public health setting that primary prevention considered increasing physical activity; secondary prevention considered treatment by the GP; and tertiary prevention considered treatment at hospital to prevent further adverse outcomes. The Assistant Director Education and Skills added that the VVB had links across Essex and had received funding for the Olive Academy to undertake outreach work for children at risk of permanent exclusion. She stated that this funding, and other funding avenues, were a direct result of the report.
Councillor Kent stated that this approach had first been undertaken in Glasgow, which had seen long term investment. He queried if the Council were committed to the approach in the long term, and if any tangible outcomes had been seen so far. The Director of Public Health replied that the Council was committed to the long term approach, and would start to see the benefits in five to ten years. She stated that the Council were also committed to ensuring the entire system and a range of organisations remained committed. She stated that lots of work was ongoing, for example the multiagency operation to tackle gangs in Thurrock, so it was difficult to determine which outcomes were the result of the report or other operations. She stated that the team were now starting to use intelligence to prevent youth violence, and were also utilising a holistic approach.
The Chair stated that in December 2020 two knife point muggings had occurred in Chadwell St Mary, and she had found it difficult to follow these up with the police. She felt that residents had been frightened by these incidents and asked what the team were doing to prevent stabbings and muggings by young people. The Director of Public Health replied that the Health and Wellbeing Strategy that was being developed considered the fear of crime and violence. She explained that actions could be taken by the police that could not be disclosed to the public for confidentiality reasons, but that it was important to ensure good communication channels with residents, and this had been one of the recommendations from the report. The Corporate Director Children’s Services added that the Community Safety Partnership worked closely with the police on anti-social behaviour, and residents could contact them at any time. The Youth Cabinet Representative stated that the Youth Cabinet had been working with the police to build a relationship, but felt that the police did not have a large enough social media presence. She stated that the Youth Cabinet were producing a YouTube video with the police regarding crime, which would be shown to young people.
RESOLVED: That the Committee:
1. Assured themselves of the progress of the recommendations in the Annual Public Health Report of Serious Youth Violence and Vulnerability.
2. Contributed to the delivery of the agenda, ensuring that communities have a voice within the agenda.
3. Agreed an annual report on the work of the Violence and Vulnerability Board be brought to the Committee.