Sophie Linden, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, shares her thoughts on MOPAC’s recent Knife Crime Summit and discusses moving towards a Knife Crime Strategy for London – which is due to be published in the new year.

It is shocking that 21 Londoners under the age of 25 have died as a result of knife crime this year. Many more have been severely injured, both physically and emotionally. The harm of these crimes does not stop with the victims themselves – families and friends are traumatised, communities are undermined and often left in fear.

We are determined to tackle this threat to the safety of young people in our city, and on Thursday 13 October, Mayor Sadiq Khan brought together representatives from policing, local authorities, health services, the criminal justice service, education, voluntary groups and communities for London’s first Knife Crime Summit. The Summit was designed to provide a forum for open and honest discussion between organisations, communities and individuals impacted by knife crime and to build a new coalition to address this urgent risk to some of London’s most vulnerable young people.

The day began with a powerful reminder of why this work matters. Starting the day’s programme, Yvonne Lawson described the devastating impact losing her son Godwin to knife crime in 2010 had on her and her family. The Summit then heard the voices of young Londoners – from Youth Chair Reiss Hall – who grew up in London and has witnessed knife crime at first hand, and through video clips of young Londoners speaking about their views and experiences of knife crime.

Mayor Sadiq Khan then took the stage to address the delegates, setting out his commitment to a new, partnership approach that brings together prevention, intervention and enforcement.

Every death on the streets of London is an utter tragedy, and I am deeply concerned about the rise in knife crime over recent years. It is time for a new approach. We must send a strong message that carrying a knife is completely unacceptable, and is more likely to ruin your life than to save it. I hope that today’s Summit will help us to harness the knowledge and insights of all those who have experience of knife crime, so we can help rid our communities of this terrible violence.” – Sadiq Khan

The message of the importance of prevention and intervention was underlined by professionals working with vulnerable young people – Dr. Susan Tranter, Headteacher of Edmonton County School, who lost a 15 year old pupil to knife crime in 2011; Professor Roger Kneebone, an internationally renowed expert in surgical simulation who uses his expertise to educate young people about the hard, medical realities of knife crime; and Reverend Gavin Jacobs, who has dedicated his life to helping young people growing up in tough circumstances to turn away from crime and look to a more positive future.

The Summit then heard about the important role of enforcement in protecting young people. Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe spoke of the ongoing work by the MPS to make sure that the law is enforced against those who carry and use knives. Geeta Subramaniam-Mooney, Head of Crime Reduction and Supporting People at London Borough of Lewisham, spoke of the successful work carried out in the Borough between the council, police and retailers to ensure that the laws around the sale of knives to young people are enforced effectively. Emily Thomas, Governor of HMP Young Offenders Institute Isis in South London spoke of the challenges of working with young people in custody who have been involved in violent crime, and the opportunities to intervene with them to provide them the skills, confidence and support they need to make a fresh start at the end of their sentences.

The Summit was an important step forward in bringing people together in the common cause of protecting young people, and the themes of prevention, intervention and enforcement, together with the principle of partnership working, will be central to a new Knife Crime Strategy for London, to be published in the New Year.

This post was written by Joe Watts

December 19, 2016 8:31 pm

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