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Between December 2019 and March 2020, the Violence and Vulnerability Unit worked with 48 youth groups and more than 600 young people to seek their thoughts and views on gangs and knife crime.

The project worked with young people in their own environment, with their own youth leaders so they would feel relaxed.

The questions the Violence & Vulnerability team wanted to engage young people on were written into a flexible session plan that included games and activities to encourage discussion around the topics.

The session included questions such as: Do you think that young people being violent towards other people or property is an issue in your area? Why do you think young people might use violence? What is the biggest concern for you right now regarding youth violence in your local area? Do you feel safe when you are out with your friends in your local area? What helps you to feel safe? Why do you think young people join gangs?

Responses showed young people were concerned about violence and knife crime. Lack of street lights, being alone and other groups of young people made them feel unsafe in their local area.

When asked about gangs, the use of violence and gang culture, there were similarities in the answers highlighting how young people want to feel a sense of belonging, to feel safe, to have status or feel protected, reasons which could cause them to join or reject gang culture.

The VVU is really grateful to all those who took part. Through the Voice of Communities workstream we are taking these views forward to help shape and influence the VVU’s future planning, spending and strategy.

You can read the full report here.