Khan’s Violence Reduction Unit ‘Not Getting Anywhere’, London on Track for Record Teen Killings in 2021

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Experts are saying London mayor Sadiq Khan’s violence reduction unit has not even started to make an impact on youth violence in the British capital, as the number of teen killings looks set to reach a record high.

Leading members of the Youth Violence Commission, whose work prompted Mayor Khan to establish a violence reduction unit at City Hall in the first place, spoke out as the number of teenagers stabbed to death in the British capital topped 20, with another killed by a firearm and a 14-year-old dying in an arson attack.

On current trends, it is feared that the number of teen killings will reach 30 for the first time, breaking the previous record high of 29 set in 2008.

“We’re not getting anywhere because we haven’t started yet and no one’s seen a 10-year plan. When we spoke about a public health approach to violence, it had to be long-term and well-resourced. It hasn’t happened,” said Dr Keir Irwin-Rogers, a criminologist with the Open University, in comments quoted by the Evening Standard.

“Young people feel over-policed and under-protected,” said retired Metropolitan Police superintendent Leroy Logan said of the situation, somewhat contradictorily.

“Stop and search creates tension. No one is going to come forward to give evidence in court if they believe the police can’t make them secure,” he continued — again with apparent contradiction, given police are unlikely to be able to make potential victims of knife crime safe it they do not stop people and search them for knives.

“When you’ve got young people saying they feel safer carrying a knife than talking to police, you’re clearly not addressing mistrust issues,” he added.

“London’s violence reduction unit was set up by the Mayor in 2018 to bring down violence in the long-term and to help tackle the complex causes now. The unit has benefited from nearly £30 million of investment. Last year alone, it commissioned 126 programmes and projects which helped 80,000 young Londoners — providing support and opportunities,” said the anti-Brexit director of the City Hall unit, Lib Peck.

“Thanks to our efforts, there are some signs of progress with violence falling in London, which began before the pandemic,” she insisted, despite the teenage murder rate approaching its highest point since 2008— although she conceded that “the number of teenagers being murdered in recent weeks shows how much more we still have to do.”

Peck’s description of “signs of progress” as the pandemic recedes comes shortly after a warning from the head of Scotland Yard’s violent crime taskforce, Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Lee Hill, that, on the contrary, “As we start to come out of lockdown, we do anticipate there will be an increase in violence.”

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