Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central, today accused the Prime Minister of “paying lip-service” to the scourge of knife crime on our streets.
“She wouldn’t ignore it if it was middle-class children getting stabbed,” the Labour MP said.
Jones was commenting on London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s latest initiative to try to reduce knife crime in the capital, which involves treating it as more than a police matter, but as if it were a health emergency, requiring involvement of a range of agencies.
Mayor Khan has provided £500,000 of funding for a Violence Reduction Unit, which would tackle knife crime in the manner applied in Glasgow, where violence is treated as “a disease infecting communities”.
The 100th murder in London in 2018 occurred this week. There were 116 murders in the capital in the whole of last year.
One-third of London’s homicide victims in 2018 have been aged 16 to 24, and 3 in 5 of the deaths have involved knife attacks.
The Mayor said that the Violence Reduction Unit would focus on “early interventions” involving schools, healthcare professionals, councils and the police.
MP Jones, who established and now chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, called the Mayor’s announcement a “major breakthrough”.
Jones has regularly cited the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit as an example for leaders in central Government and in London to follow.
“I have been campaigning for a violence reduction unit for over a year because we know that policing alone won’t stop the violence,” said Jones, pictured left.
“There is evidence from Scotland and the United States that violence can be prevented by tackling it as a disease or an epidemic – getting to the root causes.
“I applaud the Mayor for this bold move, and I call on the Government to do the same.
“Our kids are dying and the government must act now. Theresa May pays lip service to a problem that she wouldn’t ignore if it was middle-class children getting stabbed.”
Meanwhile, Croydon’s London Assembly Member, “Silent” Steve O’Connell, described the Mayor’s initiative as “a missed opportunity”.
O’Connell, a Tory councillor in Kenley, has overseen eight years of Tory cuts to the Metropolitan Police in his role at City Hall. This has included flogging off the police station in his own ward.
Today, O’Connell said, “We commend the Mayor for finally recognising that a broader approach which addresses the causes of violence is needed to halt the scourge of violent crime, in all its forms, that is blighting our city.
“Communities need to be involved for this type of approach to work and London is very complex. However, there is a worrying lack of detail as to how this unit will operate across such a vast area as the whole of London.
“We will be keeping a close eye on whether this new plan has an impact on the ground and does not end up a missed opportunity.”
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