Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Day Of Action Against Violence: Because All Life is Sacred


CAN Mezzanine
49-51 East Road
N1 6AH
                                                                                                                Date: 13/7/11

A Day of Action Against Violence: Because All Life is Sacred
SACYRD is a new campaigning organisation; a social enterprise company with charitable objectives founded in 2010. Our name stands for Strategic Alliance of Communities Rejecting Youth Destruction.
Who we are and what are our aims?
SACRYD is made up of people and organisations from the voluntary, faith and private sectors, including parents, young people, local Government and health organisations, all of whom are committed to tackling violence with a focus on knife, gun and violent crime in our communities.  SACRYD is supported by organisations such as The Black Police Association, The Damilola Taylor Trust, The Peace Alliance, Eastside Academy.
All of those involved in SACRYD recognise the need for a dynamic campaigning advocate self-empowerment organisation that can advocate and champion the need for the urgent adoption of a strategic preventative public health approach to reducing violence.
Put simply a public health approach to violence seeks to treat the problem of violence as a social disease focussing on, prevention, early intervention, public awareness and treatment and rehabilitation.
We are particularly concerned with the escalation of youth violence that we see as stemming from the wider levels of violence prevalent in the UK.
Violent children are often themselves brought up in violent families who tend to live in violent communities. However we believe that you cannot tackle particular aspects of violence, for example youth violence, domestic violence racist violence in isolation from the general incidence of violence in communities.
SACYRD policy position is that we can effectively reduce levels of serious violence through demanding the adoption of a community led, preventative public health policy in poor and disadvantaged communities.
Our primary objectives are to raise the level of awareness, of both politician’s and the wider community of the proven and tangible benefits of adopting a preventive public health approach. In addition to advocating and driving the political empowerment of local disenfranchised communities in taking the lead in owning and responding to the problem of violence.
Black communities feel completely disempowered in the fight against violent crime.
This is a fundamental and critical error of approach. Black communities must take the lead in tackling violence and hold agencies to account.
This requires communities to organise themselves into robust local consortiums that can act as a vehicle and offer a platform for a range of community led interventions. 
Central to the self-empowerment of communities is ethical principled leadership and clarity of objectives. A public health approach recognises the primacy of communities in any sustainable attempt to reduce violence.
A new approach to reducing violence: Public Health
A public health approach to violence prevention seeks to improve the health and safety of all by addressing underlying risk factors that increase the likelihood that poor communities will be more likely to become either victim’s or perpetrator’s of violence.
By definition, public health aims to provide the maximum benefit for the largest number of people. Programmes for the primary prevention of violence based on the public health approach are designed to expose a broad segment of communities to a range of prevention and intervention violence reduction measures. This approach consists of four steps.
  • The first step is for communities to take the leadership role with support from statutory agencies in designing and delivering effective intervention programmes.
  • The second step is to defining the problem through the systematic collection of publically available information about the magnitude, scope, geography, characteristics and consequences of violence.
  • The third step is identifying and prioritising the causes and correlates of violence, the factors that increase or decrease the risk for violence, and the factors that can be modified through a range of interventions.
  • The fourth step is identifying what works to prevent violence by implementing widely available, national and international evidence based examples of successful violence reduction strategies.
Statutory failure - community indifference.
For years a broad range of community organisations have sought to convince successive Governments of the need to take urgent preventative action to tackle serious youth violence. The response has been piecemeal, short term and enforcement led.   This is best summarised as the ‘jail, hospital and cemeteries’ approach resulting increased rates of incarceration alongside increased rates of serious youth violence and an increase in the fear of crime.
Black communities themselves have in the past relied too heavily on statutory funding from central and local government. Combined with a general level of ignorance about the true social, psychological, emotional, economic and environmental costs of violence this has led to a dangerous degree of dependency that has created a climate of complacency.
The reality of the situation we face now is one of completely unacceptable levels of violence, increasing fear of crime against a backdrop of statutory indifference characterised by distinct lack of policy creativity and innovation a general failure to eliminate the insidious culture of statutory silo working, alongside poor highly transient poor communities who are deeply disenfranchised disempowered and disinclined to engage.
What we intend to do.
We believe that an enforcement led approach whilst necessary is not of itself a sufficient requirement to sustainably reduce violence in the long term. Prevention, community empowerment, early intervention, rehabilitation and support for vulnerable families are critical components of any effective violence reduction strategies. 
We believe that both local and central government are failing to adequately protect our communities and that black communities have become both alienated and too dependent on a statutory led approach to this issue.
That is why we are calling for a coordinated Day of Action across London.
Our view is that those communities moist affected by violence have to take direct action in the face of such indifference.
We believe that unless we are prepared to take coordinated direct action in the tradition of the non violent civil rights struggle then our calls to help save our children will fall on deaf ears.
Local and central government are closing down many community based early interventions services, crime prevention and diversion programmes, youth clubs and community centres, after school clubs and nurseries, libraries as well as local parks and adventure playgrounds.
Our fear is that as a result things could get much worse as vulnerable young people and the wider community become increasing alienated from society.
Where will the money come from?
Funding will always be a contentious issue but we believe that it is a false economy to be cutting community led interventions services in high crime areas.
Over £120 million pounds is confiscated from criminals each year. In the light of that we believe that Government should now agree that 100% of all locally criminally confiscated assets be returned to local communities enabling them to have the necessary resources to build their capacity to lead on this issue.
This we believe has a number of immediate and obvious benefits.
Ø  This is not taxpayer’s money. Confiscated criminal assets can therefore offer much greater flexibility and innovation in terms of funding criteria and innovation in project delivery. 
Ø  Using these assets for community safety and development projects can begin to attack the false glamorisation of a criminal lifestyle. For example the public auctioning of local dealers prized assets will aid in combating this pernicious culture.
Ø  Opening community centres paid for by these confiscated assets will reinforce public confidence in the criminal justice system.
Ø  Reporting crime will be incentivised if people understand that their local community is likely to benefit in a socially productive way.
Ø  We feel that this is proportionately effective as the more crime an area suffers and the more confiscated asset are seized, the more money they have directly reinvested in community intervention and support projects.
Ø  We believe this will increase trust and confidence in the criminal justice system, develop community capacity to take responsibility for crime in their area, minimise the contribution from the taxpayer and enhance neighbourliness and social cohesion.

That is why we are calling on all communities to participate in a London wide coordinated Day of Action: Because all life is sacred. We are hoping that such a campaign will drive home these issues onto the agenda’s of local, regional and central government and most importantly increase the level of constructive engagement of our own communities.
Our objectives are to demonstrate both our anger and concern at the continued and unacceptable levels of the murder of our young people. To challenge statutory agency failure and community indifference by seeking to facilitate community empowerment and local leadership in delivering a public health approach to reducing violence.
Local communities can take any number of actions designed to highlight the serious of our situation both to the government and the wider public. What will be important is effective coordination and effective media management.
There are four high level objectives for the Day of Action: Because All Life Is Sacred campaign
  1. Significantly enhance interest from press and politicians and other key stakeholders in the issue of serious violence.

  1. Creatively demonstrate and represent the total volume of deaths suffered by local communities

  1. To promote the adoption of a public health community led preventive approach to reducing violence in poor communities.

  1. To demand that all confiscated criminal assets are ring fenced and handed over to community organisations to fund community safety projects.
We believe that a Day of Action will attract significant interest from our own community, press and politicians whom to date have paid little more than lip service to this issue. We hope you will join us as we take action to stem the violence.
A planning meeting for this event will take place on Wednesday 20th July 6pm-9pm @ Greater London Authority, 
City Hall, The Queen's Walk, 
London SE1 2AA.