Children as young as 10 witness serious violence on the streets but few raise the experience with their teachers as they don’t believe schools are ready or able to help. These findings come from a ground-breaking study of primary school children in London conducted by Witness Confident.
The good news is that young children are predisposed to do the right thing, with almost all the 10 and 11 year old children interviewed saying if they see a child being mugged they will help the victim, call the police or chase the villain. Notably, the children were more likely to contact the police where the attacker was a stranger to them. Where they knew or could identify the attacker, different considerations (including loyalty) arose. These shoudl prompt a rethink in how the police seek information from inner city communities.
Your risk of being robbed is six times higher if you’re in London than in Merseyside. Despite this, the Metropolitan Police is ten times less likely than other forces to seek the public’s help in catching and convicting the criminals responsible.
The report - Daylight Robbery - found that to help solve the 2,663 robberies that the Met investigated in February 2012, it issued just 4 witness appeals. With the Met now failing to catch the robbers in 84 crimes out of 100, the report says the case for a different approach is urgent. The report calls on the Met to publish the guidance it follows on whether to publish a witness appeal, to include a dedicated section on its website for witnesses, and to use new technology to ease the path and improve the experiences of witnesses who come forward.
One in three people in Hackney & Islington in North London have recent first or second hand experience of street violence either as a victim or witness. Drawing on official statistics, the report estimates that there were 14,400 cases of street violence in the two boroughs last year.
Two in three of those surveyed said they were not confident anyone would help if they were being mugged in a busy street. However they themselves were confident they would help if the tables were turned. Against this background, it was no surprise that people express strong support for a more engaged response from the public and the police when people witness street violence.
Here you can find the press release launching the first crime reporting app in the UK. With the support of Google and the Robert Peel Trust, Witness Confident promote and run the Self Evident app which allows victims and witnesses to report crime and supply video and photo evidence to the police for free.
The app is a community initiative to help the public engage with the police and refresh the Criminal Justice System from the bottom up.