Hogan Lovells advises as The Metropolitan Police Service enlists Local Village Network to help reduce youth violence and increase positive engagement

A collaboration between the private, public and charitable sectors, the Local Village Network App (formerly London Village Network) is being piloted by the Metropolitan Police Service to help young people and reduce gang violence in London. It creates networks of positive opportunities for young people to improve their lives and help them to achieve their ambitions.

In early 2019, global law firm Hogan Lovells started London Lives as part of a commitment to advancing racial justice. London Lives is a collaboration of corporates and youth charities committed to tackling knife crime.

2019 saw the highest number of deaths due to knife and gang-related violence in London, in ten years. 90 people were fatally stabbed in one year. From the research available, those more likely to be the victims of knife use are children and young people, those living in less wealthy areas, and members of BAME communities.

Among London Lives members there was a consensus that this peak in knife crime was rooted in inequality of opportunity. The most under-represented young people in our society are dispossessed – they lack equal access to employment opportunities, youth services and support. Such services have experienced drastic funding cuts which charities, after austerity, are not able to fill. Fast forward a few months to the current moment and that feeling of dispossession, of disenfranchisement, is stronger than ever.

There are many services in London that feel passionate about helping young people, but no network between them, to really increase impact on youth provision in London.

Hogan Lovells has provided pro bono data privacy and corporate advice on an innovative collaboration between the London Village Network (LVN) grassroots charity and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), an app to create networks of positive opportunities for young people to improve their lives and help them to achieve their ambitions. Lead Hogan Lovells partner on the project, Rachel Kent, said: "the Hogan Lovells team has been delighted to be involved in a project that has centred on building networks – both to strengthen the LVN app and to build a cross-sector response to help young people to find new opportunities."

The MPS will pilot using the app as a signposting tool for young people, giving Police officers the tools to have more positive and meaningful interactions with them. Chief Inspector Jack Rowlands said of the collaboration: "It is really positive to see an application that not only offers opportunities for young people, but for organisations too, to showcase what they can do to help. The Metropolitan Police Service will be able to signpost young people to use the application and access opportunities. In addition, we can share the LVN App with organisations that we work with to enable them to sign up and highlight what they do. Using an accessible and effective digital platform, we hope that we are able to provide more opportunities to young people and help to keep them safe from violence and harm."

Using the MPS pilot as a springboard, LVN are hoping to expand their networks and the app. Hogan Lovells has connected its Diversity & Inclusion and Graduate Recruitment Teams to offer opportunities on the app and employees can now take part in LVN's "Power of an Hour" initiative. This mentoring programme, offered by LVN, connects a young person to a professional mentor for an hour to give some advice to that individual based on their current circumstances and interests.

The CEO of LVN, Rachael Box, commented on "the fantastic support that Hogan Lovells has given to the LVN - the holistic approach to Pro Bono work has gone beyond giving legal advice to providing wraparound support. Hogan Lovells has given mentoring time, advised on key corporate legal issues and they are working to feature Hogan Lovells opportunities on the app".

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