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Shops give vulnerable young people refuge from violent gangs

VIOLENT CRIME: A police cordon outside Clapham South tube station after a 17-year-old boy was fatally stabbed

SHOPS ARE offering young people who are at risk of gang violence shelter in their premises.

Amidst the rising street violence in the capital and calls for school leaving times to be staggered to reduce knife crime, local shopkeepers and businesses are being encouraged to give refuge to vulnerable pupils.

The headteacher of one school in London has taken to cycling around the local area at the end of the school day to ensure that pupils are not loitering, while staff at another school walk students to bus stops, The Times has reported.

In the case of individuals who are identified as being in particular danger of violent crime, Uber taxis have been used to transport them to safety.

Chris Everitt, the headteacher at Harris Boys’ Academy, told The Times: “We have to tackle this head on. We can’t shy away from it when we know pupils are at risk. When they come through the school gate they can leave this behind, but they have to go back out again. We want to give them the best possible chance not to be sucked into gangs.”

Everitt’s school is regularly briefed by the police on local gang activity so that staff can provide additional support to those deemed more likely to be targeted of affected.

The safe haven scheme, which was set up by For Jimmy, formally the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, provides places for vulnerable young people to seek refuge if they are in danger or feel at risk. Shops and businesses display stickers in their windows to demonstrate their participation in the initiative.

Once a young person is inside the shop, the shopkeeper can secure the building and call the police if necessary.

Last week home secretary Sajid Javid announced extra funding for the initiative in New Cross, Deptford and Lewisham Central as well as for For Jimmy conferences, which help communities discover the areas where young people feel unsafe.

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