Barry Gardiner

Working Hard for Brent North

Barry's Column on Crime and Policing

The headlines, day after day, spell out the appalling toll being taken by violent crime across our communities. Firearms and knives are being used to kill our young people – and the victims are mainly young – across the city of London.  More than fifty people have already been killed this year across the city and the Conservative Government appears to have washed its hands of the issue.  The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd claims that a fall in police numbers is not to blame for a rise in violent crime.  She is wrong. The figures don’t lie.

Even the government’s own research accepts that police cuts have “likely contributed” to the increase in violent offences.

In two years from January 2016 to January 2018 the number of victims of serious youth violence in Brent show a 34% increase. A similar pattern can be seen with injuries to under-25 year olds relating to knife crime. These rose from 64 in January 2016 to 93 in January 2018 – a 45% increase. Under this Conservative government we have seen 2495 police officers and 3261 police community support officers cut from the Metropolitan Police.

Knife crime must not be treated in isolation. You cannot protect communities at the same time as slashing local authority budgets. Tory government cuts to Brent Council have taken their toll on our youth and community services. Children's services face a £2 billion funding gap by 2020, our mental health services are in crisis and our schools are cash strapped.

The Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick has criticised social media for fuelling gang violence, and in particular knife crime. But she has also called for a new approach to fighting knife crime, one that links it with other issues such as poverty, mental health and discrimination.

I am more concerned now than I have ever been for the safety of young people in Brent. Government must not stand idly by as stabbings and violent crime continue to rise. This is not just the job of the police. We are at a tipping point, and the whole community must work to keep our children safe.

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