Pay people in crime-hit areas in Sheffield to come up with strategies to cut violence, report suggests

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People in areas hit by knife-crime should be allowed to co-design strategies to combat violence, according to a report.

Experts, local charities and youth organisations are also calling for a reduction in the number of school exclusions and more diverse teachers to be recruited as part of efforts to tackle violence in Sheffield.

Sheffield saw eight fatal stabbings in 2018 and South Yorkshire is ranked as among the top five local authority areas which have seen increases in knife crime.

In June Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced £1.6 million for the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to set up a Violence Reduction Unit, based on a successful project in Glasgow.

However experts believe the short term nature of the funding, lack of coordinated services and poor relationships between state institutions and communities will limit its success in Sheffield.

Dr Will Mason, Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “This report represents our collective work with some of the communities most affected by violence.

“Too often, these groups are not meaningfully included in the development of plans to address the issues that affect them.

“We hope that these recommendations can contribute towards the development of local responses that take a holistic, collaborative and sustainable approach to achieve a safer city for all.”

The recommendations made to Sheffield City Council by researchers, Unity Gym Project, Sheffield Flourish and 4Front Project follow a public symposium about youth violence, masculinity and mental health. They include:

*Supporting coordinated preventative work across schools, youth services, police, child and mental health, to stop violent crime occurring in the first place

*Working with communities to develop a paid working group of young people and adults from deprived areas to co-design violence reduction strategies

*Developing a strategy to reduce school exclusions - and setting up a scrutiny committee of young people and parents from schools with the highest exclusion rates to monitor it

*Universities doing more to support trainee teachers who are underrepresented in local schools

Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, Cabinet member for education and skills, said reducing school exclusions was a key priority “because of the impact it has on a young person’s life chances”.