Sadiq Khan has been told to take “drastic action” on violent crime as it was revealed London’s murder rate for 2018 is the highest in a calendar year this decade.
The mayor was warned that Londoners are “heartbroken” to hear about the carnage on the capital’s streets and the impact it has had on communities.
Members of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee said they were concerned about the lack of detail around Mr Khan’s plans for a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).
The scheme, which has been successfully rolled out in Scotland, aims to use a public health approach to crime, where police, housing, health and care workers join together to combat violence.
“We are concerned that the narrative around the VRU may give some Londoners the impression that it is set up and taking action, when in fact it is very much in the early stages of development.”
They claim the VRU’s funding from surplus business rates is “far from sufficient to resource the unit over the long term”, and called for a move away from the focus on young people, knife crime and gangs.
Members want the unit to tackle a broad range of violence and the particular issue of adverse childhood experiences. There is evidence that exposure to domestic violence as a child and being excluded from school can in the worst cases lead teenagers to kill.
Committee chairman Steve O’Connell said: “Londoners are heartbroken to hear about the near-daily carnage on our streets, the young lives lost and the misery for families and communities.
“The mayor’s new Violence Reduction Unit will need to demonstrate that it brings something different to the table. It cannot simply be a rebranding exercise of existing programmes and policies.
“We cannot emphasise enough how critical it is that the unit tackles the traumatic situations that children might live through in order to break the cycle of violence.
“We do not underestimate the challenge ahead but it’s time for the mayor to take even further and drastic action because London is crying out for change.”
s Office for Policing and Crime) and other partners, much of the focus has been on young people, particularly in terms of knife crime and gangs.
“But we know that the problem is much greater than that. Half of the murders in the capital this year have been of those over the age of 25, as have half of the victims of knife crime with injury.
“And the available evidence indicates that gangs are not as closely linked to violence as perhaps first thought: we heard that in the past two years the percentage of ‘definitively gang-related stabbings’ has reduced.
“Domestic violence offences are on the rise, with 21 of the homicides that have occurred this year (to October) a result of domestic violence – far more than last year and already at 2016 levels.
“The number of domestic abuse violence with injury offences far surpasses the number of knife crime injuries.”
There have been 125 homicides in London so far this year, the highest number in a calendar year this decade. It marks the largest number in a calendar year since 2009 when there were 131.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London added: “The number of violent deaths both in London and across the country is tragic. Violent crime in our city leaves families broken and communities devastated.
“The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and are decades in the making, made worse by years of austerity and governments cuts to the police and youth services.
“The Mayor is expanding City Hall’s long-term public health approach to tackling the root causes of all forms of violence by setting up a Violence Reduction Unit in London.
Committee members called for the VRU to:
“He is leading from the front by working in partnership with the police, the health service, local authorities, community groups and youth services because it is clear there is no one single solution to tackling this complex issue.
“We are working hard to challenge the perception it is safe to carry a knife and the VRU will seek to better understand where to make positive early interventions because we know some offenders have themselves been victims or witnesses of violent crime in childhood.
“This will work alongside (our) work to deliver the Mayor’s comprehensive strategy to tackle violence against women and girls in all its forms. However, the Mayor is clear that tackling the causes of violence will not happen overnight.
“We need the London Assembly and others to join us in putting pressure on ministers to reverse their £1bn of damaging cuts to the police and youth services.”