Sports projects to be extended into knife crime 'hot spots'

By Joe Lepper

| 03 April 2019

Youth sports projects are to be expanded to help tackle knife crime as part of a renewed government commitment to use the sector to reach those most at risk.

Premier League Kicks involves 75,000 young people in community projects. Picture: Premier League Kicks

Schemes will be extended into areas affected by serious violence, Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said yesterday as he chaired a roundtable with sports minister Mims Davies, as part of the Prime Minister's Serious Youth Violence Summit.

It brought together sports bodies, charities and creative organisations to discuss solutions to the problem.

Wright said he wanted to "harness the power" of sport - such as basketball, boxing and cycling - to engage young people and encourage them to "choose positive activities that build confidence and key skills", instead of crime.

"Sports bodies already do excellent work in the community and we will work with the sector to expand sporting opportunities in youth crime hot spots to reach as many young people as possible," he added.

Organisations including the Premier League pledged to work with the government and the charity sector to extend the reach of their community youth initiatives.

Premier League Kicks, which already involves 75,000 young people in community projects, is among the initiatives to be used.

"Working in partnership with a range of government and third-sector organisations we are determined to use our popularity and reach to strengthen local communities," said Premier League executive director Bill Bush.

Sport England has also pledged to increase its £10m spend on crime reduction projects to ensure they reach children in hard-to-reach areas.

This includes boosting the number of its after-school and weekend sports satellite clubs, for 14- to 19-year-olds.

There are already 10,000 of these clubs in operation, offering sports opportunities to half a million young people.

Nick Pontefract, Sport England chief operating officer, added: "Sport builds a sense of community and social trust, provides role models, and new skills that can drive meaningful change. Yet we've only scratched the surface of its potential as a tool to engage young people at risk of being involved in knife crime.

"Now is a crucial time to ask what part sport and physical activity can play in tackling violence."

The Downing Street summit is bringing together more than 100 attendees including young people with experience living in communities impacted by serious violence, as well as law enforcement, health, the voluntary sector, and businesses and education leaders.

Also at the summit home secretary Sajid Javid launched an eight-week consultation over plans to require public sector workers by law to raise concerns about children at risk of knife crime.

This would apply to social workers, teachers and health workers among others.

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