New figures show link between violence and social inequality

New figures show link between violence and social inequality

PICTURED: The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

THE MAYOR of London, Sadiq Khan, delivered a major speech on the causes of crime today, after City Hall published analysis confirming a strong link between serious youth violence and Londoners affected by deprivation, poor mental health and poverty.

The new figures show that three-quarters of the boroughs in London with the highest levels of violent offending are also in the top 10 most deprived, while the same boroughs also have higher proportions of children under 20 living in poverty than the London average.

The statistics, in the most detailed study of the causes of violent crime ever undertaken in London, show that more than a quarter of all young Londoners live in the most deprived areas of the capital. It also reveals that serious youth violence in the capital started rising in 2012.

The Mayor also announced the key areas London’s Violence Reduction Unit is funding:

– Expanding after-school provision in high-crime areas – following data showing that violent incidents involving young people aged 10-16 are more likely to happen at the end of the school day.
– Supporting the often-difficult transition from primary to secondary school.
– Supporting schools to reduce school exclusions.
– Extra support for young people affected by domestic violence – following figures showing 13 per cent of serious youth violence victims are victims of domestic violence, and evidence of the link between involvement in violence and children witnessing violence in the home.
– Supporting vulnerable parents – including those who are victims of domestic violence or sexual offences.
– Providing better training for youth workers and establishing a Youth Action Group to inform the unit’s work.
– And piloting programmes in prisons and Young Offender institutions.

According to a spokesperson, the allocation of priority funding is “data-led and also follows extensive consultation with communities most affected by knife and violent crime.”

Ahead of the summer holidays starting next week, the Mayor has also today announced he is funding 43 projects that will provide positive opportunities for 3,500 young people at risk of getting involved in crime.

The £360,000 investment from his Young Londoners Fund will help young people during the holidays with half of the projects taking place in the wards in the top 10 per cent for rates of serious youth violence.

“The stark new analysis from City Hall truly lays bare the full extent of the relationship between serious youth violence and a whole range of socio-economic factors,” said Mr. Khan.

“There are still some who say that to acknowledge this link between poverty, deprivation and crime is somehow to excuse criminality and to let the criminals off the hook. I say this is dangerous rubbish.

“The truth is if we allow children to be brought up in deprived conditions as a country, if we accept high rates of school exclusions, if we fail to tackle domestic and sexual violence, if we leave people in bad housing with a lack of employment and training opportunities, and if we decimate the very public services designed to support those most in need – as this Government has systematically done – then crime is quite simply much more likely to flourish.

Speaking on the impact of government austerity, The Mayor added: “The rise in violent crime across the country is a complex issue – one that’s been obscured by short-term thinking for far too long. It’s time to be honest about the scale of the problem and honest about what it will take from all of us to fix this problem for good.

“The sad reality is the violence we’re seeing on our streets today is an appalling side-effect of increasing inequality and alienation caused by years of government austerity and neglect. The lesson we must all learn is that you can’t cut police officers, public services, preventative measures and ignore the most vulnerable people in our country at the same time as keeping crime low. These things are fundamentally incompatible.

“The most depressing part of all of this that our city – our nation – is being robbed of young people with so much potential. And if we don’t change our approach as a country, we risk another generation taking similar paths – paths that would not only detrimental to their future, but to everyone around them and society as a whole.”

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, commented: “A key part of the public health approach is to challenge the view that violence is inevitable and demonstrate that it is preventable. The analysis published today provides clear evidence that there is an even greater need for a different approach and way of doing things to break the cycle of violence in a young person’s life.

“We know enforcement can suppress violence, but it’s long-term solutions, backed up by proper investment that is needed. I’ve spent the last few months meeting and listening to more than 50 community groups in boroughs with the highest crime levels, because it’s important we understand what tools local people need to support and improve the lives of young people.

“We now have a series of programmes that we will be funding to tackle some of the key drivers of violence and I look forward to working to tackle this issue head on.”

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