Fresh £14.5m City Hall investment in violence reduction programme

Knife and gun offences in London each increased by around 20% last year, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan with police officers (credit GLA)
Sadiq Khan with police officers (credit GLA)

Sadiq Khan has announced a £14.5m investment in schemes aimed at reducing violence in crime hotspots, in his first major act since winning a fresh term at City Hall last week.

The mayor was repeatedly challenged over his record on crime during his re-election campaign, as new data showed that knife and gun offences in London each increased by roughly 20% last year.

In a last-minute promise to voters, Mr Khan had already pledged to invest £7.8m into the MyEnds programme run by his Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). This would enable the programme – which delivers after-school activities and youth work aimed at stopping young people from becoming involved in crime – to grow from eight to 11 boroughs.

But on Friday (10th), the mayor announced he would also be investing a further £6.7m into partnerships between councils and community groups working to tackle violence at a “hyper-local, neighbourhood level”, in the remaining 21 boroughs not covered by the MyEnds programme.

Khan said tackling violence and its “complex causes” was his “top priority”.

“I said on my re-election that the next generation of Londoners would be the focus of my third term as mayor, and my first major announcement in my first week is about providing a step change in the support we provide young Londoners who need it the most,” he said.

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“I have always been clear that we will never be able to arrest our way out of violence, which is driven by poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunity.

“This major City Hall funding boost will help my Violence Reduction Unit expand its MyEnds programme across London and help communities to target interventions through youth work, mentoring and after-school activities, in the neighbourhoods in greatest need of support.”

The Labour mayor’s Tory opponent, Susan Hall, argued during the election that Mr Khan had allowed crime to grow “out of control”, pointing out that violent crime was more than 30% higher last year than before he took office in 2016. The mayor said police and youth services have suffered years of under-funding due to government austerity.

The eleven boroughs now covered by the MyEnds programme, selected due to their levels of violent crime, are: Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Croydon, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

VRU director Lib Peck said violence in London is “often concentrated in neighbourhoods and small pockets of roads, in areas of greatest deprivation and poverty”.

She added: “MyEnds puts communities at the heart of solutions to tackling violence and providing opportunity for local people. The mayor’s funding will help us not only invest in new networks in key neighbourhoods affected by violence, but will also allow us to take and expand our community-led approach to every borough in the city.”

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