Boris Johnson met today with bereaved families, community members, academics and organisations working “on the frontline” of youth violence to discuss ideas and solutions on reducing crime.The Mayor attended an early morning seminar with academics before chairing a serious violence forum with guests that included representatives from the families of murdered teenagers Robert Knox and Nassirudeen Osawe and the partner of knife crime victim Elliot Guy.Other forum guests included a representative from A&E at Kings College Hospital and youth organisations ‘Building Bridges' and ‘Youth Enlightenment’.
Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Today’s forum is part of a series of informative meetings I am conducting about youth violence issues. I will launch a strategy dealing with youth violence shortly, and the views and ideas expressed today will help shape the final stages. Everybody, from families who have sadly lost their loved ones, to the doctors treating knife wounds and the magistrates prosecuting offenders, has something important to share. I want to reassure all Londoners that I am dedicated to working towards a series of measures to stop youth violence in this city.
“I won’t try and pretend for a minute that I have all the answers. This is a mammoth task that will take the full commitment of many of us working tirelessly together. We need to step up our policing operations, but just as importantly we need to reach out to disengaged young people and give them the opportunities and motivation to steer clear of trouble and reach their full potential. “
The forum looked at a range of core youth violence issues including:
- Underlying causes (e.g school exclusions, low achievement, peer groups, drugs, gangs)
- Understanding what has not worked before and where improvements need to be made
- What helps to keep young people safe? (e.g anti-gang initiatives / attendance at school / college / employment / stop and search / positive leisure activities, strong family relationships)
- Ways to work towards achieving real change in the long term
The Mayor discussed different ways of positively engaging young people including volunteering opportunities linked to the Olympics, and the expansion of sport / art opportunities. Activities for young people on Friday and Saturday nights were highlighted alongside ways to lower the rates of school exclusions.
Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Policing said: “The problems we are facing with youth violence are complex and will take a long time to resolve. It is imperative we address this now, which is what exactly what the Mayor’s strategy addressing youth violence will do. We need to look at the symptoms but also the deep-rooted underlying causes. It is essential that we engage all of London’s communities about youth violence and that we work on solutions together and make real long term change.”
During October the Mayor will consult young people about their experiences and hear their opinions and expertise on solving anti-social behaviour and creating better opportunities for young people.
Kit Malthouse discussed the progressive work that has been happening over the last few months including the success of the Metropolitan’s Police Operation Blunt 2 that has carried out 77,000 searches with over 3,300 arrests and almost 2,200 knives recovered.
The Mayor reassured guests that he was making reducing knife crime the key priority across the entire Greater London Authority and that he would work with the Government and all of London’s boroughs to ensure that an effective, co-ordinated, serious approach was taken to tackling youth violence.