Councillors investigating serious violence in Hackney have called for better support for 18 to 25-year-olds after an internal review found they were most at risk of involvement.
The review, which was discussed at the Living in Hackney scrutiny commission on 8 April, was set up after a spike in violence in 2017/18 saw six people murdered in the borough – up from two the previous year.
Officers confirmed gang-related activity was largely accountable for this upsurge, prompting an investigation into Hackney’s Integrated Gangs Unit (IGU), which brings together the police, the council and other partners to direct at-risk people away from gang activity.
The IGU uses a multi-agency approach, which includes providing support, housing, education and mentoring, as part of Hackney’s unique public health approach to violent crime established in May 2018.
Despite an overall decrease in all spectrums of violence in Hackney, councillors at the meeting announced that the review had flagged up concerns around gaps in the Town Hall’s support system for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, in comparison to provision for children under 18.
According to council figures, 90 per cent of the people the IGU works with are aged 18 or over, with the majority aged under 26.
The review also confirmed the IGU’s controlled use of the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Gangs Matrix as an intelligence tool for targeting individuals at risk of violence.
Cllr Sharon Patrick raised a concern over the lack of support for a group that is disproportionately affected by serious violence.
She said: “The majority of young people on the Matrix are over 18 rather than young people under 18.
“It is often assumed and talked about that most people involved in violence are young people and children, but we found out that it is mostly young adults.
“The probation service, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the workers of the Matrix are doing really good work with those who come to their attention.
“But we found that there wasn’t much out there for young people if they haven’t got to the level of being on the Matrix, or for those who are involved in low levels of crime or at risk of crime.”
Cllr Anthony McMahon expressed the need for additional cover for residents over the age of 18 across services in the borough, including mental health and probation services.
He said: “We need to make sure that provision is there.”
Currently the council’s Young Hackney service offers early help and prevention services for children and young people aged six to 19, or up to 25 years if a person has a special educational need or disability.
The council has also extended support for substance misuse and provision for care leavers up to the age of 25.
A council officer told the meeting that the Town Hall is working to tackle shortfalls in the support available for young people at risk.
He said: “The council is on a journey of seeking to improve support for those age groups.”
The review also revealed difficulties with the council’s housing of people who are vulnerable to violence.
Cllr Patrick said there needs to be greater care and “more sensitivity around where ex-gang members were placed” as there had been issues with people being put up in hostels with members of other gangs.
Cllr McMahon called for stronger links between housing services and the intelligence held by the IGU to avoid these issues in the borough.