Waltham Forest Council is now screening young people who enter the offenders system for mental health issues and offering more support.

Interviews with 992 young offenders revealed a need to tackle poor mental health to prevent violence and reoffending among young people.

A total of 17 per cent of young people in the borough’s criminal justice system were found to have mental health difficulties, compared to 10 per cent of the wider population.

Research carried out by Waltham Forest Council since 2015 shows a heavy prevalence of exposure to domestic abuse, a sense of abandonment and neglect and experience of bereavement in young offenders in the borough.

Cllr Clare Coghill, council leader, said: “If we are to tackle violence on our streets, we need to tackle the violence in our homes.

“Research into serious and gang-related violence has shown that domestic abuse in the family home is the most common feature in the experiences of all victims, suspects and perpetrators.

“We are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable young people in our borough as early as possible – allowing them to lead lives which unleash their potential, instead of locking them into a cycle of violence.”

The research found young offenders with mental health issues are twice as likely to re-offend and could commit twice as many crimes.

The types of mental health difficulties identified ranged from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Almost half of all young offenders with mental health issues (42 per cent) re-offended between 2015 and early 2019, compared with only 19 per cent of others.

The report also found young offenders were more likely to have been exposed to abuse, neglect and bereavement and more than half (52 per cent) of these young people had witnessed domestic abuse during their childhood.

Lib Peck, director of London’s violence reduction unit, said: “This research shows the stark reality of the impact of adverse childhood experiences on a young person. We know that children witnessing violence in the home are at greater risk of being involved in violence later in their life and it’s a cycle we have to stop, quickly.”

The authority commissioned the research and the results will be used to direct its violence prevention policy.