Lib Peck appointed to lead London’s new Violence Reduction Unit
• New Director will bring experience in policing, criminal justice, local government and public health
• £6.8m VRU already conducting urgent review of London’s homicides and most serious violent incidents since 2014
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today announced that Lib Peck, the London Councils Executive Member for Crime and Public Protection (leading London boroughs' cross-party work to keep Londoners safe) and current leader of Lambeth Council has been appointed to lead London’s new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).
Set up last year, the Violence Reduction Unit is bringing together specialists in health, police, local government, probation and community organisations to learn from and apply the successful public health approach used in Glasgow and elsewhere to tackle violent crime and the underlying causes of violent crime.
Lib Peck will step down from Lambeth Council and join the VRU in a full-time role and will be responsible for leading and directing the VRU unit, including:
• Development of a long-term partnership strategy to tackle violence across the capital;
• Responsibility for the VRU’s budget and resources, including contributions from the Mayor and other partners;
• Building and leading an effective team with a diverse skillset and background;
• Being the focal point of contact for the Mayor, Deputy Mayors and senior leaders of the other partner organisations involved in the Unit, including the Metropolitan Police Service, London Boroughs, criminal justice agencies, health services, schools and community organisations;
• Making sure that communities and young people are properly represented and consulted.
Violence reduction has been a core part of Lib’s career to date across Lambeth and in the third sector. Lib has been the leader of Lambeth Council since 2012 where she focussed on addressing domestic violence and supported the adoption of a public health approach to violence reduction in the borough in March 2018. As Lambeth leader, she is also the Deputy Chair of London Councils and Executive Member for Crime and Public Protection, leading London boroughs’ cross-party work with the Mayor, Metropolitan Police and partner agencies to keep Londoners safe.
Lib was appointed following an open and transparent competition run by recruitment consultants Hays, including partner organisations and a community panel who met shortlisted candidates. Executive search agents proactively contacted a number of individuals and there was a wide and talented field. The interview panel included senior representatives of the NHS, Metropolitan Police Service and local authorities, as well as City Hall.
Lib will be based in the Mayor’s office, reporting to the Mayor. Her start date will be confirmed shortly. She will work with partners to agree the long-term legal and governance structure of the Unit.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am delighted that Lib has been appointed as the director of the new London Violence Reduction Unit and I know she will bring valuable leadership and expertise, building on her huge experience of working with London boroughs, community groups and partner organisations across London.
“We know that the causes of violent crime are extremely complex, involving deep-seated problems in society such as poverty, alienation, mental health issues and a lack of opportunity. Although I am working tirelessly with local councils, charities and community groups on a public health approach to tackling serious violence, it’s clear we need to do more to support them in driving down not just knife crime, but all forms of violent crime.
“We have looked and learnt from cities like Glasgow and we know that they have had success in tackling crime with similar initiatives. In London, the Violence Reduction Unit will lead the capital’s response to understanding the causes of violent crime and working to stop it spreading by bringing together specialists from right across the city.”
New Director of the Violence Reduction Unit, Lib Peck, said: "I am delighted to have been appointed as the first director of the Violence Reduction Unit. Tackling violence is a number one priority for Londoners and I hope to be effective in working with a huge variety of community groups, public sector partners and the police to bring a fresh approach to this devastating and destructive crime."
Chair of London Councils, Councillor Peter John said: “It is good news for London that someone of Lib’s calibre will be taking on this critical role. Her experience of working closely with communities will be a big asset. Lib’s passionate commitment to combating serious violence has been a feature of her work leading on the Crime and Community Safety agenda here at London Councils and where she has won widespread respect.”
Niven Rennie, Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said: "I wish the new director of London's VRU well. We know that violence isn't inevitable and communities working together can create lasting change. I've seen a real determination in London to create a safer and better future for the young people of the city. It won't be easy but with long-term commitment lives can be saved. Violence is preventable."
Vin Diwakar, Medical Director and Interim Director for NHS England (London Region) said: “We look forward to working with Lib in her new role as Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit. London’s major trauma hospitals are among the best in the world and often deal with the impact of serious violence. We are working closely with the Mayor as no single organisation can tackle this complex issue in isolation. NHS England strongly supports the coordinated approach led by the Mayor”
Pastor Lorraine Jones, Director Dwaynamics ABC boxing, said: “It is of great confidence comfort and strength to me and many others that Lib Peck has been appointed as the Director for the VRU. I personally know her as she been fully supportive of me as a bereaved mother in dealing with the ripple effects of youth violence.
“Lib Peck is a woman of great expertise experience compassion and seriousness in tackling youth violent crime which is a disease in our capital, having supported initiatives of community groups like Dwaynamics ABC who support vulnerable youth having to deal with the disease gangs abuse causes and the effects of mental illness. I am pleased to see that London will be taking the violence reduction initiative public health approach to tackle youth violence and that the Mayor is relentless in his pledge to end this nightmare.”
The Violence Reduction Unit has been set up to divert people away from violence by making interventions at an early age and providing young Londoners with better, positive life opportunities. Sadiq has proposed £1.8 million in annual funding and an one-off £5 million for the unit, on top of an initial £500,000 investment to mobilise the unit. He believes this approach must work alongside enforcement - which is why he continues to support the Met Police Service and its City Hall-funded Violent Crime Taskforce, which has made more than 2,300 arrests and removed in excess of 1,000 knives and dangerous weapons from the streets of London.
The unit is currently undertaking an urgent review of homicides and the most serious violent incidents in the capital from 2014, when violent crime first began to rise. The results of the review will help to develop a long-term public health approach to tackling serious violence in London and establish key trends to inform its work and set out priorities. It will also help to determine where to focus attention in order to deliver early, local interventions to help reduce the spread of violence across the city.
Notes to editors
In September 2018, Sadiq announced his intention to establish the Violence Reduction Unit to build on a public health approach already underway at City Hall, expanding the work of the Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy to include wider types of violence and look to address the links between violence in the home and on the street.
In November 2018, Sadiq announced that the Violence Reduction Unit will carry out serious case reviews into all homicides and serious violent incidents in the capital since 2014 as an analytical tool for the Violence Reduction Unit to better understand common patterns of all types of violence, including local serious case reviews of all homicides.
The Mayor has made tackling knife and violent crime a key priority. He has invested an additional £140 million in the Met over the last two years, which includes £15m on the Violent Crime Taskforce, specifically to help tackle knife crime. The Mayor and the Commissioner took the difficult decision to move 122 officers from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command to boost the taskforce, which is helping to keep dangerous criminals, weapons and drugs off London's streets.
Every single London borough now has a bespoke Knife Crime Action Plan created in partnership with the Met Police and every school and college can now receive a knife wand, to help keep young people safe and prevent knife crime at school. 250 schools in London have taken up the Mayor's offer of a knife wand.
Sadiq has also invested £45 million in the Young Londoners Fund - a brand-new fund for local communities and charities to help young people fulfil their potential particularly those who are at risk of getting caught up in crime.
As part of the Mayor’s Public Health approach, he has confirmed he is investing £1.4 million to continue to provide youth workers in Major Trauma Centres and place more youth workers in hospital A&E departments to help steer young Londoners who have been involved in knife crime away from violence in the future. Combined with the Mayor’s Young Londoner’s funding this brings total investment in specialist youth support in hospitals to £2.7 million between 2018-2020. This will continue alongside the work of the Violence Reduction Unit.
The Mayor’s first anti-knife crime media campaign, ‘London Needs You Alive’, launched in November. The campaign brings together role models and social media youth ‘influencers’ to encourage young people away from carrying a knife, focusing on their talent and worth to the capital. With hundreds of thousands of social media followers between them, leading grime artist Yungen, MC Bossman Birdie, photographer Tom Sloan and urban poet Hussain Manawer are among those supporting it. To date this campaign has been viewed 4,043,390 times by Londoners.