Redbridge Youth Debate hears toll of street violence
- Credit: Archant
The first Redbridge Youth Debate yesterday heard young people reveal the extent of the fears for their safety on the streets of Redbridge.
The event, held at Redbridge Council chamber to mark Local Democracy Week and organised by Redbridge Youth Council, focused on five questions affecting young people – and the most pressing was safety on the streets.
A panel of politicians, including Conservative cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Alan Weinberg, deputy council leader and Lib Dem leader Cllr Ian Bond, Labour deputy leader Cllr Wes Streeting and Redbridge Independent Group leader Cllr Filly Maravala, highlighted work the authority had carried out on lighting and anti-social behaviour.
But when the question was opened to the floor by chairman Recorder Editor Chris Carter, several members of the audience revealed shocking levels of crime committed against them.
One teenager told how he had been mugged three times, twice at knifepoint and once at gunpoint. Others echoed his story, with a teenage girl recounting how she had been mugged at knifepoint and other girls describing how they were being harassed on the streets.
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Cllr Weinberg said afterwards: “Redbridge is classed as a safe borough so I think we were all a bit taken aback by the young people that spoke.
“But it’s their priority and we are taking it very seriously. We will do all we can with the police and different council departments to improve the situation.”
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Other topics raised at the debate, which saw more than 60 students sitting in the seats normally occupiped by councillors, included youth unemployment, community cohesion, investment in Redbridge, and mental health issues including self-harm.
At the end of the debate the students were asked to vote on the most pertinent issue and their first choice was safety, second employment and third choice mental health.