Is Sadiq Khan’s boost to youth work all it seems? Would be good to ask.

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CYPN’s headline reads, Sadiq Khan announces plans to boost youth work numbers in London. Messages on Facebook and Twitter suggest that here we have a politician, who ‘gets youth work’. Despite my doubts cadgers can’t be choosers, so obviously it’s good to hear that there is a  proposal to employ more youth workers. Being a sad pedant, though, I felt I’d better skim the Draft Police and Crime Plan for London 2017-2021 – Consultation Document.

As it says on the tin it is basically about supporting and improving the delivery of police and criminal justice services in the capital. In Khan’s words, “my ambition for policing and crime is to make London a safer city for all Londoners, no matter who you are or where you live. And as Mayor, I’m already taking bold action to make that happen, from putting victims at the heart of everything we do and cracking down on knife crime to tackling gender-based violence, making our justice service work for Londoners and challenging the root causes of extremism, hatred and radicalisation.”

The report is 62 pages long and there is a single one-line reference to youth work in this paragraph on page 42.

To intervene with and support those young people already caught up in gangs and violence to leave this dangerous lifestyle behind, we will invest in specialist services focusing on advocacy/mentoring and specialist health, housing and employment support. We will continue to fund and expand the support to victims of knife, gang crime and child sexual exploitation (CSE) in London hospitals; increasing our youth worker provision, maximizing the power and value of this ‘teachable moment’ and improving referrals to mainstream and specialist services. The extension of this programme support into key A&E departments in London will support young people with more minor injuries to access support earlier [my emphasis].

I may be being dim, but I’m not sure what the clause in bold above quite means. Indeed I’m intrigued by the reference to the ‘teachable moment’. Plainly we need to ask for clarification.  Is the intention to attach youth workers to hospitals? Or given the evidence from places like Rotherham, will we see the creation of youth projects with significant autonomy at a distance from the institutions? Or will funding be channelled into reviving networks of open access youth provision in targeted areas?

Without more detail I’m not sure how excited we should be about the brief reference to ‘youth worker provision’. Certainly the next step is for youth agencies and workers in London to respond positively, but questioningly to the document.

Consultation questions:
PRIORITIES – Do you think the priorities stated in this section are
the right ones? Thinking about the priorities – please provide any
comments you have, including anything you would add or change.
DELIVERY AND COMMITMENTS – Are the delivery plans and
commitments clear and easy to understand? Please provide any
comments you have about the delivery plans and commitments. Is
there anything you would like to contribute regarding the approach
MOPAC intend to take?
MEASURING SUCCESS – Do you agree with the approach laid out
in terms of how success will be measured? Please provide any
comment you have about performance measurement of the police
or criminal justice service.



  1. The attachment to hospitals already exists Tony the organisation’s called Red Thread and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the ‘teachable moment’ language in their literature. It sounds like an expansion of their work. The whole sourcing a provider and then adopting their mores and calling it youth work is becoming a regularly used political tool. This fella has a banal announcement every other day. Today he’s flogging that water cannon Boris bought off the Germans to fund gang prevention work. Possibly in hospitals.

  2. Thanks, Jimmy for this clarification. I like in particular your insight that ‘the whole sourcing a provider and then adopting their mores and calling it youth work is becoming a regularly used political tool’. Will pinch that with an appropriate acknowledgement. Cheers.

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