As the cost of living crisis threatens to reverse reductions in violent crime, closer partnership between the Met Police and communities is key to preventing and tackling violence, London mayor Sadiq Khan said on Thursday (11), a release from his press office said.
He visited Engine Room youth centre in Tottenham Hale the same day to see the partnership work, funded by the VRU, in action.
Khan joined a presentation delivered to local young people on the dangers of carrying knives by youth engagement and intervention officers in the Met and heard from youth workers and young Londoners about their concerns over the summer months, including the rising cost of living.
Alongside a strong investment in prevention, the mayor believes local neighbourhood engagement must be the cornerstone of the Met’s efforts to keep crime down and rebuild public confidence.
The summer presents fresh challenges for both the police – with more young people outdoors for longer in the warmer weather – and youth-led organisations seeing the demand for their services increase.
These challenges come as the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact huge numbers of Londoners – particularly those in insecure work or on low incomes.
The mayor warned that these factors threatened to jeopardise the progress that’s been made in reducing violent crime in the capital.
Evidence shows that poverty and deprivation are key causes of violence with City Hall analysis highlighting clear correlations between deprivation, poverty and vulnerability to crime, with six of 10 boroughs with the highest increases in unemployment over the pandemic being represented in the top 10 boroughs for serious violence.
Tackling violence is Khan’s top priority and he is determined to do everything he can to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
So far, this summer he has already announced a package of measures including:
An additional £9 million investment in his Violence Reduction Unit’s (VRU) flagship MyEnds community-led programme to empower communities to lead and deliver interventions in neighbourhoods affected by high and sustained levels of violence across London.
New £5m investment, through his Violence Reduction Unit, to support young Londoners with access to 2,500 summer activities and opportunities in employment, apprenticeships, and training through the Local Village Network App and website.
Launching a new anonymous survey with the Met to help to improve the service victims of crime receive from the police, diverting hundreds of young away from the dangers of County Lines gangs through his £5.6m Rescue and Response scheme and announcing an extension to his pioneering GPS tagging pilot programme which is continuing to tag knife crime and domestic abuse offenders released from prison.
Thanks to the hard work of the police and the prevention and early intervention work led by the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit, knife crime, gun crime and teenage murders have all significantly reduced in the capital.
But the level of violence in London still remains far too high. The Mayor, the Met Police and organisations supporting young people agree that one death is one too many, with every death leaving lives destroyed, communities hurting and families heartbroken.
Khan, said, “The only way to achieve the further reductions in violence and growth in community confidence we all want to see is through deliberate, well-coordinated and well-funded partnership work.
“From City Hall we are supporting our dedicated neighbourhood police officers and investing record amounts in initiatives to support young Londoners at critical stages in their lives. But more must be done.
“There is no escaping the reality that the spiralling cost of living is exacerbating poverty, deprivation and the lack of positive opportunities for young Londoners, which we know can be both causes and drivers of violent crime. As with poverty, violence is not inevitable and that’s why it’s more important than ever that we all work closely together to help keep our communities safe.”
Superintendent Rhona Hunt said, “Tackling violent crime and what drives it is the top priority for us all in the Met. Myself and my officers have seen first-hand how violence ruins the lives of victims and families, and has a devastating impact on our communities.
“Over the summer months we are focussing our efforts on tackling youth violence, and ensuring that the most vulnerable children and teenagers at risk of violence, are supported. In Haringey and Enfield we work closely with our partners, to ensure that there are a range of activities available to young people, to divert them away from violence. This includes talks and presentations, workshops, and sporting activities as well as many others.
“Partnership working is key to tackling serious youth violence, and ensuring that we have a joined up approach to help those most vulnerable.”
Lib Peck, director of London’s VRU, said, “London’s Violence Reduction Unit is leading an approach to tackling violence that is rooted in partnership, prevention and early intervention. This summer and beyond, we are investing in programmes which provide activities, guidance and positive opportunities for more than 70,000 young people, their families and communities. This includes measures to support families, funding to keep young people in education, investment in the vital role played by youth workers and mentors, and support and resources for communities – as we’ve seen in the VRU’s MyEnds project in Tottenham today – to tackle the issues affecting their neighbourhoods.”
Rachel Hughes, Chair of The Bridge Renewal Trust, which hosted the session at the Engine Room youth centre, said, “Thanks to the £750,000 funding from the Mayor’s London Violence Reduction Unit to our Home Cooked MyEnds partnership, we have brought together local young people, wider community and partner agencies to tackle the root causes of violence in Tottenham Hale.
“Our programmes are community-led and build on the passions and lived expertise of local people. They range from a variety of summer activities to other early help and prevention programmes to improve trust with the police, family relationships, mental health, educational achievements, job prospects and address exploitation.”