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Reducing violence through new scheme to improve security at youth clubs

A number of youth clubs in London have received security improvements through a new initiative aimed at creating safer places for young people.

Four youth clubs; one in Haringey, one in Westminster and two in Lambeth, have received physical improvements to their security features to help reduce violent crime in and around these facilities.

These improvements include the installation of heavy duty doors to mitigate against any violent attacks due to their strength, while allowing staff to remotely lock and unlock the doors to prevent passers-by entering the venue freely. As well as this, an air lock lobby will enable staff to clearly monitor who is coming in and out of the facility. As a result, these measures will help ensure staff feel more in control and equipped to protect the young people who attend.

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In addition, ten youth clubs will imminently receive defibrillators along with the necessary training to use them in the event of a violent attack. Colleagues from the London Fire Brigade also carried out inspections of the premises to identify and mitigate any fire hazards and provide advice around fire evacuation plans.

Additionally the Met’s Cyber Protect Team offered the youth clubs cyber protection advice to raise awareness of and help the organisations protect themselves from cyber crime.

The initiative, badged the Youth and Community Centre Security Scheme, is part of a Metropolitan Police Service partnership with Secured by Design (SBD), London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service (LAS).

Further funding has been secured indefinitely to ensure more youth clubs and community centres across London can also benefit from security overhauls.

The scheme was officially launched on Wednesday, 23 June at Alford House Youth Club in Kennington, Lambeth.

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Tim Saunders, the Youth Club Manager at Alford House, said: “Any youth worker will tell you that they strive to carry out activity in a safe environment, both physical and emotional. Anything that improves safety must be welcomed. The new design actually makes the entrance to the club much more welcoming than before, while improving our ability to see exactly who is coming in and out.

“It’s terrific that these features lead to greater security for all who use the club, and this investment in youth clubs is most welcome. The parents of younger members are pleased and the older members have commented on what a good idea it is. This process was not without its teething problems but everything was surmountable and we even had some laughs along the way. I am so pleased we have benefited from this and I am delighted the scheme will be continued into the future.”

Met Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said: “During lockdown we have been working behind the scenes to improve the practical security of these youth clubs so that young people and the local employees have safe spaces to return to now lockdown restrictions are lifting.

“My thanks go out to the assistance of our partners in making these improvements to create safer environments for young people to come together to enjoy themselves, which we hope will reduce the risk of violence around these areas.

“Targeting violent crime remains the Met’s number one priority and requires a collective effort, as seen here in the success of this scheme, to prevent acts of violence from occurring in the first place. This initiative forms part of the wider work officers from across the Met have been doing to ensure we are prepared and ready to tackle any violence through the summer months.”

Secured by Design CEO, Guy Ferguson, said: “I am delighted we have been able to support this excellent project to improve security at youth clubs and would like to thank Premier Security & Fire and Warrior Doors for the work they have carried out to make these venues safer.

“The Met’s Designing Out Crime Officers have been instrumental in conceiving this project and driving it forwards, and it is an excellent showcase of the work that they do on a daily basis to help make our communities safer. Their work is absolutely critical in terms of policing, but often goes under the radar and does not receive the credit that it deserves.

“Crime prevention has never been more important, especially when the police service is under increasing pressure from many directions, and I commend all involved in this project.”

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “The Brigade has been a key partner in the Youth and Community Centre Security Scheme, working closely with our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Service and Secured by Design to help ensure that young people in London have a safe place within their community that they can go.

“Area fire safety managers and advisors carried out inspections, supported with arson mitigation and provided tailored fire safety advice, working with our partners to ensure that the necessary actions were taken to reduce fire risks and create safer spaces.”

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