London Mayor announces ‘long-term strategic approach’ to tackle violent crime
The Mayor of London has launched a specialist team modelled on Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit that will treat the spiralling rise in crime in the capital as a public health issue.
Comprising health, police and local government experts, the unit aims to deliver early interventions to help prevent the spread of violence and will improve coordination between the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), local authorities, youth services and criminal justice agencies.
A total of £500,000 has been put towards establishing the Violence Reduction Unit after Sadiq Khan and his office carried out “extensive research” on the public health approach taken in Glasgow more than a decade ago. However, the level of investment has been criticised by Conservative politicians as “too little, too late”.
The “multi-disciplinary team” will work across the capital, expanding the work of Mr Khan’s Knife Crime Strategy to include wider types of violence and look at the links between violence in the home and on the street.
Mr Khan says the new approach will work alongside the increased enforcement work being carried out by the MPS. Last week at the annual Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales conference, MPS Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed an additional 122 officers would be assigned to the force’s violent crime taskforce.
The unit’s establishment comes after the capital saw its 100th homicide so far this year on Tuesday (September 18).
“I’m leading from the front in London and using my convening powers to bring together specialists in health and criminal justice to co-ordinate a new Violence Reduction Unit,” Mr Khan added.
“This will build on the public health approach we have already been working on at City Hall and will expand the work of the Knife Crime Strategy as part of a long-term approach to tackling violent crime.
“It will also complement my new £45 million Young Londoners Fund, which is providing young people with positive alternatives to crime and to help those caught up in gangs to get into employment and training.
“But I want to be honest with Londoners that the work of the Violence Reduction Unit will not deliver results overnight. The causes of violent crime are many years in the making and the solutions will take time.
“That’s why our new approach is focusing over the long-term. This unit is not a substitute for the investment our public services need if London is to significantly cut levels of violent crime.”
GLA Conservatives Police and Crime spokesperson Steve O’Connell said that while he welcomes the Violence Reduction Unit, it is “too little, too late”.
“Nearly a year and a half on from his last knife crime strategy, the Mayor is only prepared to commit a paltry £500,000 to a Violence Reduction Unit which he admits is still in the planning phase,” he added.
“What will make the Mayor realise that drastic and urgent action needs to be taken now?
“Instead of tinkering around the edges, Londoners need a Mayor who will put more police on the streets. Khan needs to cut the waste in City Hall, such as the £9 million he has wasted on increasing the culture budget and plough this money into the Met”.
Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft, chair of the Youth Violence Commission, said: “I am delighted that the Mayor is announcing the new Violence Reduction Unit, building on the public health approach and driving forward a long-term strategic approach to tackling violence, which I have advocated in my role as chair of the Youth Violence Commission.
“This approach has achieved hugely positive impacts in Glasgow, so I am glad that it will form a key part of Sadiq’s plans as he builds on the hard work already being done to tackle violence in London.”