Crime – Young people the victims as well as the perpetrators
The assembly interviewed Viv Ahmun from “in-volve and the London Gangs, Guns and Weapons Practitioner’s forum”, Decima Francis “Boyhood to Manhood Foundation”, Commander Rod Jarman, Metropolitan Police, Alex Reyes, "Kick Start Project, Crime Concern".
I thought this would be a really interesting debate as I believe that crime and particularly violent crime, continues to be the major issue in London.
As usual the underground was only working in parts, how anyone gets to work without being frazzled I do not know. Walked across to City Hall in the rain, why is City Hall so difficult to get to, no wonder there is such a mystery as to what goes on there. Why doesn’t such an important place for debate have better transport links? When you go to Westminster it is easy to get there.
Anyway back to the debate on how we can reduce crime in London.
The messages from the morning were:
The age that young people turn to crime is decreasing from mid teens down to 11 and 12 year olds – horrifying. Peak age used to be 17 -24 age group
In places like Peckham and other London boroughs – gang crime is increasing and the level of violence is increasing.
Although young people have always carried weapons – the difference is now they actually use them to harm people ….
There have been 15 deaths this year, and many more woundings.
The Church and religious organisations can play an important part in keeping young people out of violence.
It was noted by some of the speakers that the teachers should be social workers, because there was no one in authority in these children’s lives to teach them the difference between right and wrong – Remember this debate is in the same week as Iain Duncan Smith’s report on the importance of the family – and that certainly resonated this morning. There was an expectation from some of the speakers that society and “the system” should support these young people.
The Metropolitan Police estimated that there are about 250 gangs across London.
It was seen as very important to have local projects “home grown” projects for the long term. Not just enough to have a football camp for 10 weeks a year, there needed to be longer term solutions to meet the needs of more than one generation, who could then be mentors and a peer group leaders for the next.
The GLA members were concerned that there seemed to be almost an acceptance that young people will go through a stage when they carry out crimes. This is not a “rite of passage” and we need to show that this is just not acceptable on London’s streets. The police, all agencies, voluntary sectors, and religious communities, and the local Borough Leaders have got make it absolutely clear that this breakdown in acceptable behaviour needs to be stopped. We need clear policies to tackle this level of crime and the underlying issues that cause it.
Let’s be clear here about what is happening on our streets, and let’s get a Mayor who will stop being soft here and call for clear action, street by street, block by block and work with the Boroughs to tackle this issue.