Urgent need to tackle knife crime in Northampton sees councillors hasten prevention work

Councillors do not want to risk a knife crime happening in Northampton that could have been prevented by a speedy decision
Councillors do not want to risk a knife crime happening in Northampton that could have been prevented by a speedy decision

Guildhall councillors are set to bypass the usual legal process in order to get an anti-knife crime project started as quickly as possible.

A total of £800,000 was awarded to Northampton Borough Council last month from the Home Office's Trusted Relationships Fund to combat both knife crime and anti-social behaviour.

It will pay for a project to mentor young people at risk of involvement in knife but first needs to be approved by councillors as a Key Decision.

Usually the Overview and Scrutiny Committee needs to be given 28 days' notice of such an important decision, but such is the desire to get work started quickly that a legal notice has been drawn up to ensure the green light can be potentially given next Wednesday.

Councillor Anna King (Con, Phippsville), cabinet member for community safety, said the council does not want to risk a knife crime happening that could have been prevented by a quicker approval.

She said: “Our usual statutory process would hold this work up and we want to ensure it gets under way as quickly as possible.

“If we can prevent just one young person from becoming a victim of knife crime, it will have been worth it. Plans for our work with schools, colleges and the university are already in place so it would make no sense to postpone this for a month on a formality.”

The legal notice, by council solicitor Francis Fernandes, explains there has been an increase in the number of young people involved in knife crime and gang violence across the country, and that the project would feed into the wider work the council is doing with others to tackle serious organised crime.

He said: "It is considered that any delay in the implementation of the project could impact on the safeguarding of young people. This funding could reduce the potential risk and harm to affected young people."

The funding, which was confirmed on August 22, will allow the borough council and Free2Talk to deliver interventions and mentoring, lasting up to a year, to young people most at risk of getting involved in knife crime and anti-social behaviour.

It will also support young people to take a more positive path, contributing to a reduction in exploitation and abuse, episodes of going missing and contact with the youth justice system.

In addition, young people from vulnerable communities will also get a chance to input into the support programme, as their help will be sought to develop informal education programmes in youth centres.