Clive Efford has led a delegation of London MPs on a visit to see the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to ask for radical and imaginative measures to help tackle youth crime, anti-social behaviour and knife crime.
Clive organised the delegation so that MPs could stress upon the Home Secretary that the problem could not be solved by the police and the government on their own and that more legislation was not the answer. There was a need to engage with communities and with young people.
There was a call for more investment in youth facilities and activities for young people which should be available at times when problems with young people occur. Clive argued that local authorities should provide scrutiny and support but that the resources should go to local community groups and voluntary organisations who were far better able to respond to young people’s needs.
Clive co-ordinated the arrangements for the meeting with the Home Secretary in response to the growing concern in London about young people and violent crime, particularly the use of knives. Clive says, “The government cannot solve this problem by passing more and more laws. We must take tough action against people found with weapons, but the public must be involved, particularly young people, if we are going to stop young people getting into these situations in the first place.”
Clive who used to be a youth worker in the 70s and early 80s explained to Jacqui Smith that young people are the ones most at risk from the trouble makers and they are the ones most determined to deal with this problem. Parents want the trouble makers to be dealt with so that their children can go out without the fear of being attacked. Clive wants young people to be given the confidence to give intelligence to the police to allow them to target their time and resources at the problems.
“We have just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Crimestoppers and they have a site – Shadow CS – for young people to call and give information and get advice.” explained Clive. “We need to make people more aware that they can give information through Shadow CS and be confident that they will not be identified. We can do this through the sites young people visit on the web, programmes they watch and places they go like the cinema and sports centres. It’s the fear of being identified as an informer that allows the minority that commit crimes to evade the police, we must give the decent majority of young people the means to act. There is a link to Shadow CS on my website http://www.cliveefford.org.uk”
Clive is also calling for the money from dormant bank accounts that the government has said will be used to provide youth services to be targeted through local communities rather than given to local authorities. He says, “I constantly meet local people who want to do something in their local areas, but lack the means to do so. I want to be able to say to people, ‘how can I help you tackle the problems that exist on your doorstep?’.”
During August it is planned to hold creative workshops in partnership with radio stations Kiss and Galaxy to generate key messages through street poetry, rap, vox pops and art and use of websites such as MySpace.