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Mayor unveils plans to challenge knife crime in London

DETERMINED: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says everyone has a role to play

MAYOR OF London, Sadiq Khan, has outlined his determination to tackle knife crime following a surge in attacks that have resulted in 15 deaths in 2018 alone.

Speaking exclusively to The Voice, Mayor Khan said the issue was complex but he was focused on solutions.

However, he warned that it could take some time before these solutions started making an impact.

“Knife crime is a massive issue across the country – I don’t think it’s just a policing issue though,” he said.

“People are choosing to pick up a knife and leave home with it because they feel it gives them respect or makes them look cooler and it leads to horrific consequences.

“One of the things we need to do is stop young people thinking that’s a wise choice to make.”

Challenging the mindset of young people and the numerous influences that play a role – from socialisation to the media – is one of the main difficulties and the Mayor is also encouraging the community to take an active role in changing this new normal.

He said: “Everyone has an important role to play, and it’s about making young people realise that they have a huge potential. I’m the parent of two teenage daughters and I want them to know that they can achieve anything and we have to give positivity too.

“However, a joined up approach needs to be taken. My evidence for this is I undertook the biggest ever consultation when I drew up the Knife Crime Plan. I got my deputy of crime and policing to go and speak to bereaved families, faith leaders, parents, teachers, Ofsted and more.

“The bad news is that it’ll take some time before we see a positive change but we need everyone to join our fight to try and reduce knife crime and ultimately end it.”

While Mr Khan notes the difficulties that lie ahead, he is also keen to address just how this approach differs from previous attempts to tackle knife crime.

“What we’ve done this time around is a study of what works around the world. There’s an example in Glasgow, Scotland, from the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and we’ve pinched some of the best ideas from there, and what we learnt was they took a public health approach to knife crime,” Mr Khan said.

Glasgow was labelled a city with one of the highest murder rates in Western Europe, with a high percentage of knife crime. The launch of the VRU in the city, which saw the police work with health, education and social work professionals to address the problem, resulted in a dramatic decrease in knife crime – something that he is keen to replicate.

“There are ways to prevent issues around criminality and that’s something we are looking into. When you’ve had cuts in youth services, education, mental health services, children’s services, and policing, you’re going to see an increase in crime, and every area of crime is going up.

“Now I can’t pretend that I as the Mayor of London can fill the massive hole left by all these cuts. But what I’m trying to do is invest more in areas that can help reach young Londoners,” he added.

Khan also shared plans to invest more in areas that can help reach young Londoners – including £45 million which has been invested into youth services and £3.3 million in mental health facilities.

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