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Government looks to harness sport in battle against knife crime

By Tom Walker    02 Apr 2019
Sport England has pledged to increase investment in sport and physical activity for children in hot spot areas

The government will look to use sport as a way to support and engage young people in "serious violence hot spots".

Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for sport, made the pledge yesterday during a roundtable with a number of sports bodies, charities and creative organisations, held as part of the Prime Minister’s Serious Youth Violence Summit to tackle knife crime.

“Sport has the power to reach and connect people of all ages and backgrounds," Wright said.

“We want to harness that power to encourage young people to choose positive activities that build confidence and key skills, rather than turn to crime and violence.

“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.”

One of the organisations attending the summit was football's English Premier League, which made a commitment to work in partnership with government to expand one of its flagship community programmes, Premier League Kicks.

Currently reaching 75,000 participants a year, the programme uses football to inspire young people to develop their potential and build stronger, safer communities.

Sport England, which invests more than £10m in projects that use sport to support crime reduction, has also pledged to increase investment in sport and physical activity for children in hot spot areas.

This will include increasing the number of sports ‘satellite’ clubs, which are held after school and at weekends for 14 to 19-year-olds and aim to bridge the gap between school, college and community sport.

A total of 10,000 satellite clubs have been established in England, helping over half a million young people to get active.

Bill Bush, Premier League executive director, said: “The Premier League and our clubs recognise that young people today face huge pressures in their lives.

"Our education and social inclusion programmes engage thousands of youngsters every week in areas of high need. 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.

"This includes working together with young people and supporting them in understanding how to deal with the very real dangers of gangs and knives.”

Nick Pontefract, Sport England chief operating officer, added: “Sport and physical activity is a powerful and positive force for good in society.

"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 Serious Youth Violence Summit, which took place this week at Downing Street, brought together over 100 attendees from a diverse range of backgrounds – including law enforcement, health, the voluntary sector, businesses, education and young people with experience living in communities impacted by serious violence.

During the event, Prime Minister Theresa May set out proposals for a new legal duty to ensure public bodies raise concerns about children at risk of becoming involved in knife crime.

The joined-up approach would ensure professionals in health, education, police, social services, housing, and the voluntary sector work together, and are held accountable for, preventing and tackling serious violence.

knife crime  English Premier League 
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