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A new approach to knife crime: making our young people safer for good

10 JULY 2010

There is a conspiracy of silence and a poverty of coordination which blights the lives of too many young Londoners and also affects all people of every age living in London today indirectly or, too often in the most tragic circumstances, directly. Last week, in Norwood, South London, a young boy was fatally stabbed outside his school. In the same week, in one night 10 shots were fired on the streets of Bethnal green. Six bullets found the intended target, two found a nearby shopkeeper. This last weekend the 10th teenager fatally stabbed brought the total number of knife-related deaths on London’s streets so far in 2010 to thirteen. Media interest in knife and other crime involving young people comes and goes, but the devastating effects on individuals and on local communities endures. A stabbing - whether fatal or wounding or simply the threat of violence – has massive knock on repercussions and for the victims, for the family, for the local community, the damage is long lasting if not permanent. Our approach here in London is not working. The 13th murder has put the death toll in line with that from 2008 when 14 murders had occurred by this point in the year when knife crime was at its peak. For too many years, since the mayoralty was created, City Hall has failed to properly grasp the issue of knife crime and the prevalence of young people operating in violent,


policy document - knife crime

postcode-based groups. This must change. London needs a mayor whose focus is on finding the solutions to problems that have too often been ignored, on preventing issues rather than offering a sticking plaster over them. In constrained financial times this is more, not less, important. The cost of inaction and lack of co-ordination is literally killing too many young people and scarring the lives of thousands of others young and old across our capital. We need a new approach. As Mayor, I will:

1. reprioritise funding for youth workers

Re-prioritise funding for Youth workers on the streets to engage directly with young people in their own local areas. These workers need the time to form relationships with the community they work within and, crucially, with young people from an earlier age - not just once things have going wrong. By gaining young people’s trust, understanding their issues, and exploring what the best solutions to local issues are, they must advocate and provide a bridge to the authorities.

policy document - knife crime

support. We need neighborhood policing to be available at the times when the public need it and tailored to the needs of individual areas We must investigate Safer Neighborhoods Officers having more powers to really tackle the issues affecting neighbourhoods.

4. Restorative justice

Introduce restorative justice as a bold London-wide practice as a measure for humanising young people who have lost touch with the devastating potential consequences of knife carrying. Teen murderers are children who have families and loved ones , the prospect of engaging with their victims’ families and absorbing their pain is far greater a challenge for the perpetrator then serving a sentence alone. Their experience and powerful message must be used educate other teens found in possession of knives .

2. long-term early intervention strATEGY

Utilise the knowledge of existing organisations dedicated to the cause of reducing knife crime and work collectively to form a longterm, early intervention strategy. I believe that despite many knife crime perpetrators being well in to their teens, the new focus must be to prepare young people for the life-options that lie ahead of them from as early as primary school age. Young people are not only the perpetrators but are also part of the solution, their participation in the development stages of initiatives is key to producing the most purposeful cost- effective programmes.

I will continue to promote and support the zero tolerance approach to carrying knives, including supporting the Police in their use of knife arches and wands more at trouble spots and more randomly in busy areas. However we have been shown this alone is not sufficient and I intend to intervene more in the families caught in a cycle of harm and criminal activity and do more to support the many families whose children are pulled in to gang culture to support their own children, to intervene themselves and turn their loved ones back from making the choice to join and run with a gang. The gangs that have previously been allowed to infest communities without challenge must be condemned, confronted and driven away from them.

5. tap into great enterprise of young londonders

3. Take control of the met police

Be a mayor taking control of the Met Police to ensure that local neighborhood policing teams are more responsive to local people’s needs and concerns.. Many effective teams exist today and their transferable good practices must be used elsewhere whilst struggling forces receive extra

We need engaging, long term activities for young people to participate in so that the closing time of youth clubs or other youth facilities does not signal the end of their constructive socialising. Enterprise projects have the potential to engage entire communities and also offer the prospect of generating revenue for young people through projects that also enhance society. Youth services across the capital should also offer a menu of activities and be open in the evenings and


weekends to ensure our public services serve our young people, not just the affluent or middle class. We need to remain focussed on raising educational standards and opportunity for young people in London, we must tackle the deep rooted inequality: in wealth, housing, life chances and other areas which blight too many Londoners and are the root of so many of our social problems in this city and which no Mayor has yet addressed. I want to put together an innovative programme enlisting a new London-wide network of volunteers to create a mentoring programme city-wide. I will seek to involve all university students in the programme and new partnerships with city firms and small businesses all over London. My intention is to equip young Londoners with soft skills, boosting their character and self-esteem as a step towards preparing them to make a positive contribution to their communities and our city.


policy document - knife crime

6. hard-hitting public information campaign

Revitalize the work started by the last Government - and cut by the current administration - to take a hard hitting public information campaign to the streets, pushing the message that communities must be brave and speak up in order to chase the gang culture and knife crime from our streets . The fight will take mothers, brothers and friends doing their individual part, but will have the full support and backing of their mayor . We need a new approach to the issues affecting London. We need new ideas and a Mayor who is the Champion for one London: not north versus south, one postcode against another or inner versus outer London.

MY PHILOSOPHY In all that I do my policy will be underpinned by the three key principles that I have set out for my mayoralty:


Prevention is better than cure As Mayor, I will prioritise investing in the future. I want to rebalance spending, so instead of all our money being spent on the cure (e.g. young people processed through magistrates courts), we spend more on prevention (e.g. young people given support to prevent re-offending).

2 Human relationships should be at the heart of service delivery

As Mayor, I will put relationships at the heart of public policy - relationships are the glue that bind communities together, building social capital. It’s the quality of the relationship between the teacher and the pupil, police officer and resident, youth worker and gang member, Job Centre advisor and unemployed Londoner that has the greatest impact on changing lives for good.

3 Participation is not an optional extra

As Mayor, I will work to ensure that people have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, putting people first in GLA decision-making.

Š Oona 4 Mayor campaign 2010 Reproduced from the website Promoted by Matt Cooke on behalf of Oona King, both at 6 Heron Quays, London E14 4JB.

Oona4Mayor - Knife Crime Policy Document  

Here Oona outlines how she would deal with the problem of knife crime in the capital.

Oona4Mayor - Knife Crime Policy Document  

Here Oona outlines how she would deal with the problem of knife crime in the capital.