Young men at risk of joining gangs and committing violent crimes should be offered apprenticeships to help them make different life decisions, according to a youth worker in east London.
Deji Adeoshun, Youth Leadership Manager at Hackney CVS, a non-profit organisation in east London’s Hackney borough, made the comments to local paper the Hackney Citizen in response to a new Amnesty International report which said the Metropolitan Police’s approach has been “racially profiling” the city's young black men.
The report notes that of the roughly 3,800 people on the Met’s “gang matrix” (a database, set up in the wake of the 2011 London Riots, which holds information on about 3,800 “persons of interest”) 78% are black, 80% are aged 12 to 24, and 35% have never committed a serious offence.
Adeoshun, who was interviewed by Amnesty International for the report, told the Hackney Citizen that a better approach than putting people on the database and tracking them, would be to help young men find properly-paid jobs, and that apprenticeships – with their training and progression element – should be a part of that.
“We’ve had the gang matrix for years”, he told the local paper. “Knife crime and gun crime is on the increase.
“Wouldn’t that money be better spent helping young people in the matrix?”
Adeoshun said that a better approach than putting people on the database and tracking them, would be to help young men find properly-paid jobs, and that apprenticeships – with their training and progression element – should be a part of that.
He said: “Everything is about enforcement and not much about prevention.
“What I would propose is give these young people jobs, because everyone knows if you’re a young black man and you’ve got a conviction, the chances of getting a job are very small.
“Some of these guys have been caught selling drugs just to make money. We tell them to stop, but what are we offering them to stop? Nothing.
“If they’re making money on the street then offering them £7 an hour is just not going to cut the mustard.”
Adeoshun suggested good apprenticeships with real career prospects might be the answer.
“When you offer one of these guys that, they might start to think,” he said. “If they took that up, that’s one person off the streets.”