Mayor announces urgent review of homicide and serious violence cases

02 November 2018

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that one of the first actions of the new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) will be to lead an urgent review of homicide and the most serious violent incidents in the capital.


Sadiq wants the results of the review as quickly as possible to help develop a long-term public health approach to tackling serious violence in London. The VRU will use a capital-wide review of homicide and serious violence cases to understand and establish key trends to inform its work and set out priorities. The review will help to determine where to focus attention in order to deliver early, local interventions to help reduce the spread of violence across the city.


On Monday, the Mayor chaired the first meeting of the VRU Partnership Reference Group - an advisory body that will initially focus on setting up the unit and set strategic direction and priorities, which includes leaders from the Metropolitan Police, Public Health England and other health services, criminal justice agencies, community and youth groups and local authorities. It will also be supported by members of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit which led the approach to tackling violence initially in Glasgow more than a decade ago, and now works right across Scotland.


The Mayor wants work to get underway immediately on a review of the most serious violent incidents, which will cover cases involving violence, including all homicides, from 2014, the year serious violent crime started rising.


As part of its initial work, the unit will use data, research and knowledge from across the partnership to help tackle challenges such as street violence, knife crime and both domestic abuse and sexual violence as they are often present in the life of perpetrators of violence.


City Hall also today began advertising for a director to lead the unit. The purpose of the role is to develop a long-term partnership strategy to tackle all forms of violence across the capital, build on and expand a public health approach and lead a multi-agency response.


The aim of the VRU is to divert people away from violence by making interventions at an early age and providing young Londoners with better, positive life opportunities. Sadiq believes this approach must work alongside enforcement - which is why he continues to support the Met and its City Hall-funded Violent Crime Taskforce, which has made more than 1500 arrests and removed hundreds of knives and dangerous weapons from the streets of London.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The reasons why violent crime is increasing in London and across the country are complex and are years in the making. There is not one simple solution or measure that will reduce levels of violence. Instead, it requires a long-term public health approach working closely across the city with a range of public authorities and charities, coupled to proper policing and enforcement.


“The Violence Reduction Unit will build on the work we have already started at City Hall on a London-wide public health approach to tackling all forms of violence. We will be drawing on the expertise and knowledge of all partners to get the unit off to the best possible start and that includes valuable insight from those that led the successful Glasgow response to violence as part of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. But I want to be honest with Londoners - this approach will not deliver results overnight. It is a long-term strategy which in Scotland took a decade to reduce violent crime.


“I'm pleased that all partners have agreed that the unit’s initial focus will centre on the findings of a review of homicide and serious violence cases. This will provide us with the evidence better to understand the areas of high-risk, so we can prioritise efforts and resources to tackle the areas we can make the biggest impact to reduce violence.  


“I am leading London’s response to understanding the causes of violent crime and working to stop it spreading by bringing together specialists from right across the city, but we have to be clear that we could go much further and much faster with greater national investment in our public services.”


The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick, said: “Preventing and detecting violent crime on the streets of London remains my top priority.   My officers are working tirelessly day and night to identify and pursue offenders, bring perpetrators to justice, support victims, engage and reassure the public, and keep our communities safe.  We have long said that the police through enforcement work alone cannot solve this problem, and the work of the Violence Reduction Unit will I’m sure be helpful in the long-term reduction in violence.”


Professor Yvonne Doyle, Health Advisor to the Mayor and Regional Director for Public Health England, said: “Developing an evidence-based public health approach allows us to build multi-agency responses focused on prevention - developing the strategy needed to ensure all Londoners can live safe and healthy lives.”


Will Linden, deputy director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said: "There is a determination in London to root out the causes of violence. It will take time to understand what is driving such violence and how to effectively tackle it, solutions won't be found overnight. However, we know that working together communities, police and services can and do save lives. Violence isn't inevitable and can be prevented. The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit are happy to provide support and assistance as the city works together to create a safer London for all."



- Ends –

Notes to editors

  • In September, Sadiq announced his intention to establish the 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. 
  • Serious case reviews will be used 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. It will draw on expertise from the Metropolitan Police’s domestic homicide reviews, combined with learning from councils that have experience in carrying out reviews of serious incidents. The reviews will in some cases be from scratch and in others will involve collating information that has already been reviewed by a borough or the police.
  • Membership of the VRU Partnership Group and its first meeting can be found here:
  • Details of director appointment and link here:


  • The director will play a key role in the fight to drive down violent crime, bringing to the role senior experience in a policing, criminal justice, public health or similarly complex political environment, together with experience of working to bring national, regional and local agencies together.
  • Glasgow has a population of just over 600,000 compared to a population of almost nine million in London. The Glasgow public health approach, started in 2004 involved white Scottish males aged 14 to 18 with alcohol being a contributory factor in half of all murders. It was also one part of East Glasgow, while violence is concentrated in a much wider number of areas in London. In 2004/05 there were 40 murders in Glasgow and 4,701 incidents of violent crime. This compares to 159 homicides in London in 2017/18 and 159,982 recorded incidents of violence in the capital.
  • 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 recently 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. 200 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.


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