A decade long plan to keep young people safe and out of the criminal justice system has been launched by Haringey Council.

The council’s Young People at Risk Strategy focuses on working with community groups and volunteer organisations to provide activities and opportunities for youngsters at risk of getting caught up in crime.

Measures set out in the action plan include a new youth space in Wood Green, more space for youngsters in libraries, fitness sessions and an ambitious summer activity programme.

A specialist team of outreach workers will build relationships with the most vulnerable groups and link them to youth activities and support.

The council will also look to provide support for mentors and community leaders to ensure young people have strong role models they can look up to.

Young people in Tottenham schools aged from 6 to 8-years-old will be offered targeted mental health and emotional wellbeing support by Haringey Council, the NHS and the voluntary sector.

Other measures set out in the extensive strategy include more support for victims of domestic violence and families affected by alcohol abuse.

Serious youth violence – defined by the Metropolitan Police as “any offence of most serious violence or weapon-enabled crime where the victim is aged one to 19” – is a major problem in Haringey.

There were 346 victims of serious youth violence in the borough during the 12 months to January 2019 – meaning one in every 99 young people aged between 10 and 19 was a victim.

The problem is mainly driven by the criminal exploitation of young people through activities such as the county lines drug trade.

It disproportionately affects young people from Black African and Black Caribbean communities and is concentrated in hotspots such as Wood Green High Road, Bruce Grove, and Tottenham Hale.

Haringey Council has adopted a public health approach to reducing serious youth violence – a model that has achieved considerable success in Scotland.

It involves tackling the causes of youth violence and intervening early to identify potential problems and prevent them from arising.

The council will work with the NHS, the Greater London Authority and a range of charities and community groups to meet the aims of the strategy, which was agreed at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (March 12).

Cllr Mark Blake, cabinet member for communities, safety and engagement, said the council wanted to create an environment where there are “strong, positive relationships between peers, and individuals can flourish and develop”.

He added: “That, ultimately, is going to be the most effective intervention in terms of steering young people away from violence and criminality.

“We are focusing on the most vulnerable – particularly those with special educational needs, looked after children, excluded children, and young, black boys.

“Improving outcomes for these young people is going to be absolutely critical.”

Cllr Blake said working with the police to catch criminals and bring them to justice still had a key role to play.

But he added: “In terms of the long-term solution to this problem, clearly enforcement action can only go so far.

“It is a multi-faceted issue, and keeping young people out of the criminal justice system is absolutely crucial.”