FROM December 2022 to March 2023 more than 1,560 young people took part in the fourth Essex Violence and Vulnerability Youth Voices Listening Project.
Seventy-three youth groups across Southend, Essex and Thurrock asked their young people how safe they feel in their communities with the results giving a picture of the fears and concerns of children across the county.
Knife crime and getting stabbed was the top concern for the third year in a row at 16%, followed closely by youth violence and fights on the street at second place with 14% and drug dealers and user at third place with 12%.
The concerns of the young people vary according to the district and borough they live in, but all had concerns about violence which takes place for seemingly no other reason than to get filmed and shared on social media. There was a general feeling that violence was becoming normalised and there were no repercussions from it.
When asked what makes them feel unsafe, the main answers were dark and poorly lit areas, large groups of people and being out alone. They feel safe with their friends, with people they trust and in well-lit areas.
All young people would like to see more sports activities and youth clubs available that are affordable and local, safe spaces that are run by trusted adults.
Roger Hirst, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and Chair of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership said: “Young people right across our county have been open, and honest about the things that make them feel unsafe and now it is our responsibility to act on these findings. I will be sharing the report with colleagues across Essex to see what we have the power, capability, and resources to change.
“Essex is a safe county, and it is rare to be a victim of crime but if people don’t feel safe then it restricts their ability to live happy, healthy, positive lives. I am confident that by working in partnership we can help our young people feel safer and happier as they live, study, work and play in Essex.”
The Listening Project was managed by Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services and results have been collated by geographical area so that the young people’s fears, concerns and solutions can be acted upon and implemented on a local level.
Following publication of the report The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit will look to work with local youth organisations, Community Safety Partnerships, local authorities and other community stakeholders to see how to young people’s fears can be addressed and positive changes made.
To view the full report and view in more detail the comments made and groups that took part visit www.evcys.org.uk/ecvys-youth-voices