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Digital skills

Catch22, Google and Redthread launch programme to tackle youth violence

A young woman wearing glasses looks at her phone whilst sat at a table.

YouTube and the Mayor of London will today announce a new £600,000 grant from Google.org to help charities in dealing with the challenges of how young and at-risk people use social media, and bolster the process of identifying violent online content and preventing it from reappearing.

The fund will help Catch22 and Redthread train more than 500 social and youth workers, teachers and other frontline professionals to help them deal with the challenges and opportunities of how young at-risk people are using social media.

It comes as today, YouTube and its parent company Google, working in partnership with the Mayor of London, convene a meeting of some of the leading social media and online platforms, channel owners, industry leaders and community groups to collectively work towards a solution to serious youth violence.

YouTube and Google have been working closely with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to tackle concerns about content shared online which can incite violence. Today’s roundtable discussion at the YouTube Space London will involve a discussion about the complexities of drill music, together with responsibilities and solutions to tackling serious youth violence. Participants include Beth Murray, Director of Engagement, Catch22, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Mike West, Detective Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, John Poyton, CEO, Redthread, key music industry leaders, and a number of prominent YouTube Channels.

The £600,000 fund will complement YouTube’s Trusted Flaggers programme which helps professionals identify and flag inflammatory content online for review. The grant includes a grassroots fund to invest in ideas with communities that tackle issues of disenfranchisement and build creativity and engagement. It will encourage young people to develop positive online content, to support campaigns in this area such as the Mayor’s social media anti-knife crime campaign, #LondonNeedsYouAlive and forms a key part of his long-term public health approach to tackling the complex causes of violence through the Violence Reduction Unit.

Beth Murray, Director of Engagement, Catch22 said:

“This grant will build capacity in the hundreds of frontline workers and different organisations working together to tackle youth violence, all over London. The online world moves very quickly, and this grant will help those of us working with at-risk young people to get ahead of the curve. Negative activity on social media is a symptom, rather than a cause, of youth violence. To have a real impact on London’s levels of youth violence we must tackle the cause; disenfranchised young people, who need positive people around them, a safe place to live, and something purposeful to do.

“With Google and Redthread, we have designed a programme which we hope will go directly to this cause. The training will help frontline workers to understand fully how young people are using social media. The grassroots grants programme will directly fund those with lived experience, and we’ll support talented young people to use their skills for good.”

Ronan Harris, Managing Director of Google UK said:

“We share the concern about the recent violence in London and do not want YouTube used to provoke violence. That’s why today, with support from the Mayor of London, we are issuing a £600k grant to charities, Catch22 and Redthread, to support social media training and skills development so that they can more confidently help deal with these issues and promote the use of social media for good. We look forward to continuing our work with the Metropolitan Police, The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and community groups to be part of the solution to this problem.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“We have seen violence increase in London and across the country and I have been concerned about the number of videos online that glamourise gang violence and inflame tensions in communities. I called for social media companies to toughen up their guidelines around violent content and that’s why I am pleased have been able to get leading online platforms, charities and music artists together as part of a commitment to better identify and remove content that incites violence much more quickly. This investment from YouTube will help do that and plays a key role in the long-term public health approach I am leading in London to understand the complex causes of all types of violence and put in place measures to give communities the powers and resources to make key interventions in our battle to bear down on knife and violent crime.”

John Poyton, Redthread CEO commented:

“We are really pleased to be working alongside Google.org, YouTube, Catch22 and the Mayor of London to support cross sector frontline workers and young people in beginning to tackle the challenges of youth violence in an online world. We are committed to adopting a public health approach to youth violence; we see the link between social media content and violence in communities as a symptom of a wider, systemic problem and believe we must analyse the causes, diagnose the problem, look at what works to treat the symptoms and develop solutions to protect our young people.

“This programme will allow us to extend the teachable moment upstream to support young people earlier, before crisis point. By empowering young people and building the understanding of the trusted adults and professionals in their lives, we are enabling them to safely navigate their online as well as offline worlds.”

Detective Superintendent Mike West said:

“It is a priority for the Met to keep Londoners safe and reduce serious violence, and we are working hard to stop those using social media to incite violence. Music role models and social media have a hugely powerful and positive impact, but when social media is used in the wrong way the consequences can quite literally be deadly. We are not seeking to suppress freedom of expression through any kind of music, our intention is to remove those videos that glorify violence and provoke criminality on the streets of London.

“Partnership working is such a key part of how we address this, and we will continue to work with not only social media platforms but a range of organisations to explore how we can tackle the issue. I am delighted at the launch of this initiative to help young people understand how to deal with violence connected to social media, and how to handle a range of challenges online.”