Community safety initiatives

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News release: 20 March 2019

Initiatives to combat gang crime and improve mental health services in the St Albans District have been approved by a community partnership.

Cathedral from the air
Funding is to be provided by St Albans City and District Council and Hertfordshire Constabulary to support anti-crime projects at several education centres.

These will be run by the charity Growing Against Violence (GAV) which provides health and safety training as well as education for young people.

GAV takes a public health approach to tackling violence, seeing it as “a disease that is preventable rather than inevitable”.

Using listening and investigative techniques, they identify risks and issues specific to particular local communities.

Their programmes have been delivered to around 700 schools and have reached 170,000 students, allowing them to develop the life skills they need to resist crime.

The decision to work with GAV to help young people in the District was taken by the St Albans City and District Strategic Partnership.

This is a group of public sector agencies, businesses and voluntary organisations which work together to tackle major local issues.

Members include the Council, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Citizens Advice, the Cathedral and the Hertfordshire Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group. (1)

In another move, the partnership has agreed a mental health action plan entitled All Minds St Albans.

This has identified four priorities together with a range of measures to achieve them. These are:

• Enabling people who are coping to get back to a healthy state before their difficulties escalate; 
• Making organisations more mental-health friendly; 
• Improving the information that directs people to the help and support services they need; and 
• Building widespread understanding of mental health through training, communication and public engagement.

The Council is taking the lead on encouraging organisations to be more mental-health friendly.

Among other measures, the Council aims to ensure managers take mental health training to support their employees effectively.

It will also work with St Albans Chamber of Commerce to secure such training opportunities are available for small and medium-sized businesses.

The decisions to fund GAV programmes and move forward with the mental health action plan were taken at a meeting of the strategic partnership on Friday 15 March.

Councillor Alec Campbell, the Council’s Leader and Portfolio Holder for Resources, said: “The St Albans District is a great place to live as it has relatively low levels of crime and antisocial behaviour.

“However, we must not be complacent, particularly with the increase in gang and knife crime that has been occurring in London and some other major cities in recent months.

“That is why the partnership has recruited Growing Against Violence to engage with some of our young people about these issues.

“GAV has a track record in working with young people to reduce the appeal of violence and improving their confidence in the police. I am sure their work will be of great benefit to us.

“I’m also pleased with the way members of the partnership are looking at how to improve the support available to people with poor mental health.

“We are committed to taking the lead in helping organisations become more effective in dealing with this issues so that available resources are effectively directed in addressing needs.

“This joined-up, multi-agency approach to issues like mental health and knife crime shows the value of having a strategic partnership that can deliver real change in the District.”

To find out more about GAV, please see: growingagainstviolence.org.uk/.

(1) The strategic partnership members are:  St Albans City and District Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Jobcentre Plus, Hightown Praetorian Churches Housing Association, Communities 1ST, Oaklands College, St Albans District Chamber of Commerce, representatives of primary and secondary schools, Citizens Advice and St Albans Cathedral.

Councillor contact:
Cllr Alec Campbell, Leader and Portfolio Holder for Resources, St Albans City and District Council.
Tel: 07793 550200; email: cllr.a.campbell@stalbans.gov.uk

Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council 
Tel: 01727 296130; e-mail: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk