Youths at risk of rioting targeted by Merton Council


The council is suggesting ways to combat anti-social behaviour.


By Hannah Friend

Young adults at risk of rioting may be helped as Merton Council puts forward suggestions to combat episodes of anti-social behaviour in the future.

A major part of the review proposes a new youth service which extends to the 18-24 age group who are not currently provided for.

They hope they can help young people make the right decisions and steer clear of crime after the age of 18, should riots break out again.

“There are ways of instilling a sense of character so that when unusually order breaks down people don’t go along with the mood,” said Peter Southgate, Chair of the council’s Civil Unrest Task Group.

“The interesting thing is we talked to a number of youths who are known to us as gang members and they made a deliberate decision not to be involved.”

He said there was some effective intervention with youth workers phoning everyone they could to say this wasn’t a wise thing to get involved with and encouragingly a lot of youngsters chose not to.

But the group has recommended the council invests in changing the attitudes of young people at risk of anti-social behaviour in the hope they choose not to get involved with crime in the future.

“We need reasons behind the riots to understand what happened with those between the ages of 18 and 25,” said Edith Macauley, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Engagement and Equalities.

After the age of 18 young adults in the area at risk of illegal behaviour do not receive help.

Currently there is no legal requirement for the council to provide these types of services to those over 18.

“We don’t know nearly as well what their attitudes are, we’re not nearly as in touch with them,” said Mr Southgate.

“This is a bigger problem because there is no statutory requirement for local authorities to make provision for people once they become adults.”

Concerns were raised at the cabinet meeting on October 22 over how the budget will accommodate this proposal.

Chris Lee, Director of Environment and Regeneration, said he was concerned about the cost involved with the review’s recommendations and in particular this provision for over 18s.

Mr Southgate said that this could only be justified financially if it saved money in the long run, because these people would not need more costly help after a jail sentence.

The group also suggest that head teachers and police discuss whether it would be useful to get police to talk to children about stop and search procedures.

The report says that this needs to be revised and explained so that people do not view it as unfair treatment should it happen to them.

The task group questioned police and council officers and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services as well drawing on reviews carried out by the Metropolitan Police, the National Riots Communities and Victims Panel and other London boroughs.

If the recommendations are accepted by the cabinet they will be implemented and monitored over time to see if they are successful.

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