A SCHEME in Thurrock is preventing children being excluded from school, including a ten-year-old girl who took a knife into school reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
A number of organisations across the borough are working together to prevent children and young people being exploited by criminal gangs.
Keeping youngsters in school is a vital part of the work being done to prevent youngsters ending up in pupil referral units and easy targets for gangs.
Jason Read, youth offending operations manager, presented a report to Thurrock council’s hidden and extreme harms prevention committee.
He said: “My day to day job is working with those children being exploited by criminal gangs. The schools have been really, really good around this.
“We’ve had four cases where we’ve managed to keep the child in school which, has been really positive. One of the girls was only ten years old so you can see the ages we are working with. She wasn’t involved in gangs but she thought it was quite clever to bring a knife into school.”
Mr Read added: “It’s early days but certain schools have been really good but we don’t stop there. A lot of funding is going into the Olive Academy. They’ve got outreach workers, they are going to schools with those individuals to try to support the child to stay in school
“A couple of years ago there may have been resistance to it because gang was a four letter word and for the school could quite detrimental but there’s been a real change in that over the last couple of years and they are really engaging well at the moment.”
Councillors heard the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit is working to reduce serious violence, particularly hospital admissions for stabbings for the under 25s and to reduce all non-domestic homicides and especially among those victims aged under 25 involving knives.
The Thurrock violence and vulnerability Board has been convened to bring together six teams, inluding the Community Safety Partnership, the Safeguarding Adults Board and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership.
The Violence and Vulnerability Board is chaired by the Director of Public Health
Mr Read said that the unit had begun this work by trying to identify criminal gangs, and had worked in partnership with local communities and local authorities. He told councillors the process had identified young people at risk from exploitation by gangs, and had helped them to leave.