London violence: 'Concerns' over crime reduction plan

Temporary memorial set up for Israel Ogunsola who was stabbed to death in Hackney on 4 April Image copyright AFP

London's mayor must take "further and drastic action" to tackle violent crime in the capital, members of a crime committee have said in a letter.

Sadiq Khan said his Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) would treat violence like a disease.

But in a letter, the London Assembly's police and crime committee raised concerns about the VRU, such as that it could focus too heavily on youth crime.

Mr Khan said there was "no single solution" to violence.

The VRU aims to mirror the successful approach taken in Glasgow, where violence is treated as a public health issue.

The unit, which has been given £500,000 funding, will focus on what Mr Khan has described as "early interventions" involving schools, healthcare professionals, councils and the police.

The letter, sent to Mr Khan by the committee chair Steve O'Connell, said discussions between the mayor's office for policing and crime and other partners focused "on young people, particularly in terms of knife crime and gangs".

"But we know that the problem is much greater than that," it added.

"The number of domestic abuse violence with injury offences far surpasses the number of knife crime injuries."

A spokesman for the mayor said: "The VRU will seek to better understand where to make positive early interventions because we know some offenders have themselves been victims or witnesses of violent crime in childhood."

"We need the London Assembly and others to join us in putting pressure on ministers to reverse their £1bn of damaging cuts to the police and youth services."

The committee also raised concerns about when positive effects of the VRU would be felt.

"The narrative around the VRU may give some Londoners the impression that it is set up and taking action, when in fact it is very much in the early stages of development," the letter said.

But the mayor's spokesman said: "There is no one single solution to tackling this complex issue... tackling the causes of violence will not happen overnight."

On Tuesday the number of killings this year in the capital hit 130 - the highest since 2008.

Mr O'Connell said: "We do not underestimate the challenge ahead but it's time for the mayor to take even further, and drastic, action because London is crying out for change."

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