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Report Declares Birmingham Leads on Innovation in Ethnic Minority Youth Crime

With the recent ethnic riots in Birmingham it is no surprise that a new report by researchers at the University of Warwick declares Birmingham to be a leading city on ethnic minority youth crime - the surprise is that they mean Birmingham is leading the way in innovation in its design of programmes to prevent ethnic minority youth crime. However the report notes that the schemes only touch the lives of a few hundred such young people and calls for this work to be extended to serve thousands rather than just hundreds. The report also calls for more co-ordination of effort and for real consultation with young people.

The report welcomes the recognition of Birmingham agencies that perceived high levels of ethnic minority youth crime are really the result of stark geographic realities. Ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in inner city areas (half the city's Afro-Caribbean population and 70% of the Asian population are in six wards Handsworth, Soho, Aston, Ladywood, Sandwell, & Sparkbrook) and the ethnic minority population is much younger than the white population (50% of ethnic minorities are under 29 compared with 37% of whites). Social conditions in the city also present particular challenges. Afro-Caribbean pupils are 4-6 times more likely to be excluded from school at a younger age for fewer and less serious offences than white pupils and ethnic minorities face much higher unemployment. Black African and South Asian men are twice as likely to be unemployed as white men (35% of Pakistani men and 42% of Bangladeshi men were unemployed).

The report "Ethnic Minority Youth Crime in Birmingham: Prevention and Good Practice" by Professor Muhammad Anwar and Dr Sameera Tahira Ahmed for the University of Warwick's Centre for Research In Ethnic Relations, found a wide range of innovative schemes in the city including:

Birmingham City Council's "Cool to Call" campaign encouraging young people to report street crime

Birmingham Youth Offending Service's 28 "splash" schemes actively targeting gatherings of young people. A city centre scheme targeted 200 young people who were gathering to skateboard in the city centre providing a week long summer school exploring music and literature in Birmingham Central Library. The Service also ran 47 summer holiday "diversion" schemes.

Washwood Heath Youth Inclusion project - targeted the 50 most at risk young people in the area with a plan to "divert" them from criminal behaviour. They worked with schools to reduce truanting, the risk of exclusion and arranged specialist education and careers advice.

Probation West Midlands introduced 90 voluntary mentors to their bail support programmes, and launched a Breaking Barriers project to help boost offender's employment prospects. Their "Black people and Offending" programme works on areas including violence and aggression.

West Midlands Police's Operation Safer Streets helped young ethnic minority people by recognizing that they were particularly at risk of being victims of crime. The Police and Community Together scheme (PACT) involved primary school pupils with older people.

Connexions' PreVent scheme - which aimed at stopping young people getting into trouble during the summer was praised for its high ethnic minority take up - 31% Black Caribbean and 22% South Asian.

Professor Anwar said "We found an impressive range of innovative activities across the city designed to proactively prevent ethnic minority youth crime but only a few hundred were benefiting when many thousands should be reached. What was also missing was dialogue between the programmes and with the young people themselves. The city needs to ensure it really consults with the young people themselves when creating programmes designed for them - and there needs to be much more co-ordination of individual activities so that the young people and the city get the best value from the resources available."

For further information please contact:

Professor Muhammad Anwar, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 524870

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager,
University of Warwick Tel: 024 76 523708
or 07767 655860 email:

PR85 PJD 21st November 2005