Pioneering work to reduce risks to youth and prevent crime

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At Westminster City Council, we have programmes working across departments dedicated to ensuring youth safety and wellbeing in our city. One of these programmes is the Integrated Gangs and Exploitation Unit (IGXU). They work with the Council’s most vulnerable and exploited young people involved in violence to improve their life choices and social integration, and reduce incidences of serious youth violence and association with gangs.

The IGXU is a small multi-disciplinary team made up of gangs workers, an analyst, a community engagement officer, an employment coach, a family therapist and others. The focus is on engaging young people aged 10-25 who are at high risk of serious youth violence, exploitation or gang affiliation. In 2019, Ofsted recognised the achievements of IGXU within their inspection report of children’s services, noting:

“the response to children at risk of, or involved in, criminal exploitation is pioneering and impressive. Dedicated and persistent work engages many highly vulnerable children and reduces risks of further serious harm.”

IGXU have adapted throughout lockdown by engaging with youth through online employment coaching, and visiting young people known to them around Westminster during ‘ride-outs’. Over 50 community members also recently participated in an online conversation to understand and address concerns about violence.  

Our Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) housing team works with IGXU and other council teams to address concerns about youth violence, and in particular the concerns of housing residents. The ASB team meets weekly with the IGXU to discuss recent incidents and share information. Together with police, our teams collaborate on engaging individual young people to reduce harm and ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people, their families and their communities.

The effect of IGXU has been recognised by parents, with one saying:

“I am so grateful to you and the rest of the [IGXU] for giving my children and I hope for a better future. The work you all do, and the level of commitment is astounding… I am sure [people] would want to hear about some of the amazing work you all do.”

If you would like to hear more about the IGXU team and the work that they do, please email integratedgangsunit@westminster.gov.uk .