Nearly half of Northamptonshire youngsters know someone who has carried a weapon, says first-of-its-kind survey

More than 1,100 young people were asked about their concerns over gangs, violence and driving by Youth Commission

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 3:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 3:30 pm

Nearly half of young people in Northamptonshire know someone who has carried a weapon, according to a first-of-its-kind survey of the county's youth.

The Northamptonshire Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner's Youth Commission asked more than 1,100 young people about their concerns over gangs, violence and young drivers.

The team of 20 teenagers aged between 17 and 19 presented their findings at Wootton Hall Park in Northampton yesterday (Tuesday, March 10).

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The Northamptonshire Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner's Youth Commission

Bradley Mills from the Youth Commission said: “We know there are a lot of people who are bad drivers that aren’t young people but we want young people to be a generation of better, more aware drivers.

"We also want young people to feel safe as passengers and know what to do when they don’t.

“And gangs are a big part of our society, Northamptonshire is central to a lot of the cities and used as a bypass for gang activity. We hear about it too much.

"We don’t want to be the generation that is teaching our eight year old kids about the dangers of knives, exploitation, gangs and drugs on the streets instead of how to cross the road safety. We can only make that difference together.”

The survey, dubbed The Big Conversation, found 22 per cent of interviewees had been approached to join a gang, committed a crime or knew someone who had but just eight per cent would call the police.

While 46 per cent had felt unsafe with a young driver, three-fifths had been in a car driven too fast or dangerously and almost three-quarters were not aware of any road safety campaigns for youngsters.

The Youth Commission's response to the issues include a mentoring scheme to provide positive role models to children and a spoken word and music project to tell the stories of gang culture.

They want to have road safety champions to work in schools with their peers and be ambassadors for safer road use and develop an app to educate young drivers about hazard perception.

A ‘positive self’ campaign is also in the works to counter what they described as the impact of social media generally on their mental health.

Northamptonshire police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I could not be more pleased of the work that the Youth Commission has carried out on behalf of their generation.

"To have young people working hard to capture these views is something of a first for this county and to see the way they have set about this major piece of work speaks volumes about their passion for change and creating a better future.

“I have told them that I am committed to giving them all the support they need to make their recommendations a reality.”