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Knife crime and getting stabbed still number one concern for Essex young people

From December 2022 to March 2023 more than 1,560 young people took part in the fourth Essex Violence and Vulnerability Youth Voices Listening Project.

Seventy-three youth groups across Southend, Essex and Thurrock asked their young people how safe they feel in their communities with the results giving a picture of the fears and concerns of children across the county.

Knife crime and getting stabbed was the top concern for the third year in a row at 16%, followed closely by youth violence and fights on the street at second place with 14% and drug dealers and user at third place with 12%.

The concerns of the young people vary according to the district and borough they live in, but all had concerns about violence which takes place for seemingly no other reason than to get filmed and shared on social media. There was a general feeling that violence was becoming normalised and there were no repercussions from it.

When asked what makes them feel unsafe, the main answers were dark and poorly lit areas, large groups of people and being out alone.  They feel safe with their friends, with people they trust and in well-lit areas.

All young people would like to see more sports activities and youth clubs available that are affordable and local, safe spaces that are run by trusted adults.

Roger Hirst, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and Chair of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership said: “Young people right across our county have been open, and honest about the things that make them feel unsafe and now it is our responsibility to act on these findings. I will be sharing the report with colleagues across Essex to see what we have the power, capability, and resources to change.

“Essex is a safe county, and it is rare to be a victim of crime but if people don’t feel safe then it restricts their ability to live happy, healthy, positive lives. I am confident that by working in partnership we can help our young people feel safer and happier as they live, study, work and play in Essex.”

The Listening Project was managed by Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services and results have been collated by geographical area so that the young people’s fears, concerns and solutions can be acted upon and implemented on a local level.

Following publication of the report The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit will look to work with local youth organisations, Community Safety Partnerships, local authorities and other community stakeholders to see how to young people’s fears can be addressed and positive changes made.

To view the full report and view in more detail the comments made and groups that took part visit

Area Top Three Concerns  Comments from young people 

95 young people

  1. Knife crime and getting stabbed
  2. Drugs
  3. Fights
’Girls want boys to fight to impress them which is causing more violence’

’Stabbings are bad and are worse than they used to be as kids think they are in gangs’


104 young people

  1. Knife crime
  2. Drug use
  3. Fights
‘Fighting at school is a worry as people do it just to put on TikTok’

‘If kids felt more confident about being safe then we wouldn’t carry knives’


96 young people

  1. Roadmen
  2. Knife crime
  3. Large groups of kids
‘Hanging around with older kids makes me feel safe, but I would like more safe adults walking around’
Castle Point

126 young people

  1. Knife crime
  2. Getting stabbed
  3. Drugs
‘The police help the are feel safe, we see them walking about sometimes and when we see that we feel safer as it feels like no one can do anything to us’

166 young people

  1. Knife Crime
  2. Youth violence
  3. Gangs
‘You think a gang is something you can see, but they are on my phone’

94 young people

  1. Fights
  2. Drug users
  3. Knife Crime
‘If there aren’t places for us to go (skate parks, clubs etc) it’ll just make young people stay out and maybe get into the wrong crowds and make stupid decisions and mistakes’
Epping Forest

96 young people

  1. Violence with no consequences
  2. Vaping and underage drinking
  3. Knives
‘knowing how to protect ourselves is important’

108 young people

  1. Gangs
  2. Scared of being robbed
  3. Knife crime
‘Education around gang violence and repercussions needs to be taught more, and at an earlier age. School assemblies don’t really work as we just switch off’

91 young people

  1. Hearsay about violence
  2. Fighting after school
  3. Large groups of people
‘Knowing the community and where to avoid during the evenings is key’

92 young people

  1. Drugs
  2. Being attacked
  3. Fights in school
‘I always try to be careful about people and surroundings’

131 young people

  1. Getting stabbed
  2. Getting attacked / mugged / jumped
  3. Druggies
‘It’s a bad idea to keep restricting street lighting. Turn it on!’

‘Schools are becoming more problematic with fights’


91 young people

  1. Poorly lit areas
  2. Youth violence being out of control
  3. Roadmen
‘Being with friends makes me feel protected, and being with a boy group of friends makes me feel even they safer’

100 young people

  1. Knife crime
  2. Being out at night / poorly lit areas
  3. Fear of being followed
‘We need more places like youth club –with adults/peers around’

‘I feel intimidated by gangs in my area’


128 young people

  1. Peer pressure / violence
  2. Knife Harm / getting stabbed
  3. Older people being bad role models
‘Violence is so common now. Plus, there are a large number of videos of young people mucking around/fighting/ vaping going around in big WhatsApp groups’
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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

If your enquiry relates to operational policing or a crime please contact Essex Police

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