Sadiq Khan: Government must get tough on the causes of violent crime

04 January 2018
  • While tough police action is being taken against violent crime, forces cannot tackle this problem alone
  • Government cuts to youth services, community groups, education, probation and the police since 2010 have reversed decades of progress in tackling the root causes of violent offending
  • Government’s botched probation privatisation and prisons crisis doing little to reduce scandalous reoffending rates

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today called for the Government to reverse seven years of cuts to youth and education services, probation and prisons to help tackle the root causes of rising violent crime across the UK.

 

Following years of sustained cuts to these vital services, violent crime across the country is rising and this week four young men were tragically killed in a shocking spate of unrelated stabbings within 24 hours in London. Over the past year, violent offences against the person rose by 19 per cent across England and Wales, and by just over 3 per cent in the capital.

 

The Met police have made tackling knife crime a top priority. During Operation Winter Nights, which ran from November until December 2017, the Met made over 900 arrests and took more than 350 weapons off the streets – including 278 knives, 61offensive weapons and 20 firearms. The total number of arrests included 334 arrests following stop and searches.

 

However, the police cannot tackle this problem alone. In London, Government cuts to councils have led to more than £22m of cuts to youth services since 2011, closing 30 youth centres, with at least 12,700 places for young people lost. London’s schools face £99m in real terms cuts in 2018-19 alone. And children’s services face a funding gap of at least £2bn by 2020. Mental health services remain chronically underfunded, leaving many young people with serious traumas and mental health problems untreated and leading to serious behaviour problems in adult life.

 

These services are vital in protecting vulnerable children and young adults, and offering them a way out of crime, and Sadiq is urging Ministers to take urgent action.

 

Even when offenders are caught by the police, prosecuted and found guilty, the crisis in the prisons and probation service means not enough is being done to stop them returning to a life of crime on their release, with reoffending rates for 18 to 20 year old males in London up from  34.8 per cent in 2005-06 to 38.9 per cent in 2015/16.

 

Despite warnings from experts about the impact on reoffending and public safety, the capital’s probation services were privatised by this Government, and handed to MTC Novo in 2014. A report by the independent Probation Inspectorate accused the performance of MTC Novo of “putting people at risk”.

 

Prisons and young offender institutes in the capital are at breaking point, overcrowded and dangerous, with little of the ‘through the door’ rehabilitation taking place that was promised by the Government.

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Met will do everything in their power to tackle violent crime, which is rising across the UK, but this Government has forgotten that there are two parts to this equation. The police are being tough on crime, but the Government are being desperately weak on the causes of crime.

 

“Getting back to being ‘tough on the causes of crime’ will require a massive investment in the services that have been neglected for too long, tragically letting our young people down.

 

“There is an old proverb which says it takes a village to raise a child. That means the whole community – parents, families, teachers, schools, youth clubs or social workers – must play their part. Prevention is much more effective than enforcement.

 

“Ministers need urgently to prioritise local services, youth services, early years, community work, mental health services, probation and prisons if we are to bear down on the senseless violence in which four young men lost their lives this new year. On this governments watch, these critical services have been allowed to deteriorate and starved of funding and we are now paying a heavy price.

 

“Keeping Londoners safe is my priority, and I am doing everything I can to tackle this scourge in our communities. Keeping the country safe should be the Government’s priority too, and it is time Ministers stopped shirking this responsibility.”

 

Lib Peck, London Council’s executive member for crime and public protection, said: “Government cuts from every direction have had a devastating effect on our local communities, and it is our young people who are suffering the most. London is a fantastic place to grow up in, but education and youth services are vital to ensuring young people have access to the opportunities they deserve, and protecting vulnerable young adults. With violent offences on the rise, now is the time to be investing in our prisons, police force and communities, to tackle the root causes of crime and bring an end to the tragic, senseless deaths we have seen on the capital’s streets over the last year. We are doing all we can to keep our local communities safe, but the Government need to step up and play their part, provide the necessary funding to keep Londoners safe and ensure no more young lives are lost to these horrific crimes.”

 

Sadiq Khan has made a £7m investment in knife and gang crime projects in 2017-18 as part of his tough and comprehensive knife crime strategy. This includes supporting knife prevention work in schools, empowering communities with funding for knife crime prevention initiatives, providing specialist youth workers to engage with victims in hospitals, and launching a new positive anti-knife crime campaign – London Needs You Alive.

 

Sadiq continues to work with the Ministry of Justice to finalise a deal for the devolution of criminal justice services in the capital, giving City Hall more power to ensure services are tailored to the needs of the capital, cut reoffending and make London a safer place for everyone. 

 

In December, the Government confirmed it is proposing another year of real-term cuts to the funding of the Met. The Met police has had to make more than £600 million of savings over recent years, and must find several hundreds of millions more of savings by 2021/22. Already, this has led to the loss of 30 per cent of police staff posts, 65 per cent of police community support officer posts, as well as police station front counters and 120 police buildings, and police officer numbers could fall significantly below 30,000 before 2021.

Notes to editors

* London’s Lost Youth Services report (Sian Berry, 2017): https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/assembly-members/publications-sian-berry/publication-sian-berry-londons

 

The Government has cut £387m from youth service spending across the country between 2010- 2016. Ref: A future at risk - Cuts in youth services (Unison, 2016): https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2016/08/23996.pdf

 

London’s schools will receive significantly less new money with the Government’s new schools funding formula than any other region in the country.  When factoring in cost increases estimated by the National Audit Office, London Councils has projected that the cost of meeting budgetary pressures for every school in 2018/19 would be £99 million in London[3].  This means real term cuts to schools’ funding. Ref: London Councils, School Funding update, October 2017.

 

The Local Government Association (LGA) and national children’s charities urged the Government in November 2017’s Autumn Budget to close the funding gap facing children’s services, which will reach at least £2 billion by 2020. Ref: https://www.local.gov.uk/about/campaigns/bright-futures/close-childrens-services-funding-gap?mc_cid=f63cd474cb&mc_eid=a24dfcd25f

 

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics released in October, violence against a person continues to show large increases across England and Wales, the MPS have recorded an increase but to a much lesser degree (MPS = 3.1 per cent, E&W = 18.9 per cent)

 

The HMIP Report can be read here: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation