London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai quizzed Sadiq Khan on the measures that City Hall is taking to prevent an upsurge in youth violence as the Government prepares to ease lockdown.
Metropolitan Police figures show that the lockdown measures put in place on 23rd March have had a significant impact on crime. The number of total notifiable offences in London at the end of April 2020 had reduced to 48,104 offences, compared to 74,886 at the end of April 2019, marking a reduction of 35%.
However, concerns have been raised in the policing community that gang rivalries and vendettas have been left to ferment during lockdown and tensions could spill over in the coming months.
In response to Mr Desai, the Mayor underlined the work being carried out by the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which is engaging with vulnerable young people virtually during the lockdown with the help of youth groups across the capital.
The Mayor also pointed to a recent announcement made by the Metropolitan Police that 620 officers have been deployed to form new violence suppression units across London to clamp down on 250 crime ‘micro hotspots’ identified by analysts.
NOW LISTEN: City Natters #8 FSB’s Matthew Jaffa discusses a crucial few weeks for small businesses
Officers have also identified up to 1,000 of London’s most prolific violent offenders and over the lockdown period are visiting them twice to convince them to take this opportunity to turn their lives around.
In the wake of the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Desai is also now calling upon the Government not to renege on their promises to provide the necessary funding to place an extra 1,369 police officers on the capital’s streets over the next year.
Mr Desai said: “One of the very few positives that can be taken from the last few months is the drop in youth violence on our streets.
“It is crucial that we proceed cautiously as we start to gradually ease out of the lockdown and minimise the potential risk of an abrupt upsurge in crime.
“I was reassured by the Mayor this week that the Met Police and VRU are taking the right balance of enforcement and prevention measures to get ahead of the curve on this.
“Going forward, the need for the Government to properly fund our police and tackle the underlying causes of criminality after a decade of austerity remain abundantly clear.”
For the latest headlines from the City of London and beyond, follow City Matters on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.