The Roundup, 2019
Exclusive findings and news stories from around the country, sourced by school pupils with the support of The Student View in 2019.
In 2019, The Student View visited schools across the country and asked students to research and write about the issues that matter the most to them. Here is a roundup of their subsequent findings, from Brent to Bradford, Derbyshire down to Hastings.
Hussain, 15, and Samrah, 14, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, wished to disprove the myth that immigrants were coming to their city to take benefits and not work or contribute to the local society. They requested unemployment data from Bradford Council. The resulting statistics showed that more ethnic minority men are employed than white men in Bradford. From January to December 2018, 4.8% of Bradford’s white males were unemployed, in comparison to 4.4% of ethnic minority males.
Meanwhile, Sarah, 15, and Imran, 15, from Brent, London, made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request regarding social housing availability in their borough. The data returned to them by Brent Council revealed that the number of social houses in Brent has decreased by 8% in the last five years. In 2013/14, there were 8,433 houses in the borough, down to just 7,764 in 2017/18.
Sarah and Imran said they chose to focus on this issue because have “family and friends who are affected by housing situations and prices. Brent Council has overlooked the number low income citizens who are in need of social housing,” they added.
In the seaside village of Hastings, East Sussex, Antonia,14, and Savannah,15, wanted to shine a light on the continued closure of businesses set up in beach huts. Their FOI request revealed that 59 beach huts shut down in 2014, and 55 the following year. A further 37 closures came in 2016, 38 in 2017 and 22 more in 2018.
This follows years of issues for the town’s main attraction, Hastings Pier, which has been closed three times over the last decade. It was closed in 2009 due to instability, and again in 2010 because of fire damage. It finally reopened in 2016, but closed again just two years later due to the bankruptcy of the charity who ran the pier. The pier has since reopened, in April 2019, after being bought and renovated by Sheikh Abid Gulzar. However, locals have been angered by the sale, questioning why the Sheikh was allowed to buy it while a community bid was rejected.
Antonia and Savannah explained that, “This topic is important to us because Hastings Pier does not excite us as teenagers. We live here and want our pier to reflect the good things about our town, not the bad.”
Simona, 15, and Dominik, 14, took a different view on the prosperity of businesses in Hastings. FOI data revealed that in the past five financial years 3,101 businesses in Hastings have closed down, while just 1,784 businesses have opened and stayed open. There are 3,659 open businesses currently in Hastings. These include business like parking spaces, hotels, cafes and offices.
Two boys from Derbyshire decided to focus on an increase in knife crime in their area. “It happens so much in the local area, which makes it personal to people around here. Knife crime is really bad and it needs to stop. Loads of kids are losing their lives because of it.” Their research found that 355 crimes involving knives or other sharp objects were recorded by Derbyshire police in 2015/16. In 2018/19, this number has risen to 610. The overall percentage change between 2010 and 2018 is +62%.
Finally, two students from Brent uncovered data that appears to show a sharp drop in the number of young people committing crime in the borough. Niesha and Michelle filed an FOI request, which was returned to them with data they found surprising. The report suggests that while 3,205 offences were committed by under 25-year-olds in Brent in 2013, the same age category committed just 1,049 offences in 2018. This indicates a fall of 67% of crimes by Brent’s under 25-year community over five years.
As for crimes committed by those 17 and under, data suggests these have dropped from 673 instances to 215 instances during the same time period. Whether this is a result of improved standards of behaviour, police cuts or other factors remains unclear at this time.