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Serious youth violence and gang membership, and its links to the illegal drug market and ‘county lines’, has a devastating impact on both the health and wellbeing of the young people who become involved and their wider communities.

As with so many public health issues, it disproportionately impacts some individuals and communities and can exacerbate existing health inequalities. Violence and vulnerability is not inevitable and developing our understanding and evidence supports us in developing evidence based actions.  

The Annual Public Health 2019/2020 report from Thurrock Council’s Public Health Team demonstrates that there are a series of evidence based actions we can take to prevent violence from occurring and to mitigate its impacts when it does. To do this successfully we need coordinated action from multiple stakeholders working in partnership with our residents and communities.

The report focuses on the issue of serious youth violence and urban street gang activity using a Public Health Approach methodology to identify and address the vulnerabilities of the young people concerned. It analyses evidence and data from Thurrock and makes recommendations on preventative strategic action to address the issue of serious youth violence and gang membership in Thurrock, however, the findings and recommendations are generalisable to other areas of Essex, including proposing a new high level strategic integrated model.

A Public Health approach seeks to improve the health and safety of all individuals by addressing underlying risk factors to prevent adverse outcomes, in this case the likelihood that an individual will become a victim or perpetrator of violence.