THE BLOG

Youth Violence In The Capital Should Be A Bigger Scandal

09/02/2017 17:06 GMT | Updated 09/02/2017 17:06 GMT
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Violence amongst young people continues to surge in London and I can't see anything happening in the near future that will offer any real change. How many more times will we need to read 'a 19-year-old man has become the latest teenager to be stabbed to death in the capital after being knifed on the streets' or words to that effect?

It should be a national scandal that so many young people have had their lives cut short and yet somehow its become an expected event. You read headlines like 'Yet another teenager has been hacked to death in London' and you find you no longer have the energy to be as outraged as you should be. The number of victims of serious youth violence has risen in the capital since 2012, according to the Mayor's office. Something that should be alarming to us all. We've also seen an increase in the number of teenage murders. Lower than the 28 deaths in 2007, and the 29 deaths in 2008 but when violence with injury remains at unprecedented levels it's worth asking whether it's due to the fantastic work of the London Ambulance Service, which despite severe budget constraints, increases in demand and staff shortages has prevailed in the face of enormous challenges.

In 2015, the Home Affairs Select Committee concluded it was "lamentable" that such limited progress had been made in identifying and risk-assessing young people linked to gang members". Can police forces honestly say they've made any progress? Let's look at the report the committee released in 2009, can we really say any of the recommendations have been met and maintained. It's important to note that many of the professionals who work on this issue will repeatedly remind you that the solutions have been suggested by Select Committee's, charities and communities time and time again yet the Government are failing to act adequately.

We seem to be obsessed with the whole idea these young people are all within gangs, and dysfunctional families but I'm here to tell you, the issues can be exacerbated by broken families but are certainly not exclusive to those families and the violence can't all be attributed to young people engaged in gang activity. The issue is far more complex than people care to believe which is why issues must be tackled in a cross-sector approach. We can't continue to blame the police for everything. Although the police and their relationships with communities play a big part in moving things forward its imperative that police action is supported by community-led intervention and proactive prevention work.

We are constantly told that young people are part of the future, but it's hard to believe that when so many young people are being rendered part of the past. We must invest more in young people, and that includes protecting services that both support and empower young people. Local authorities seem set on doing the total opposite. It's worth acknowledging that local councils are having to make tough decisions due to cuts, but we can't ignore the staggering £387m reportedly slashed from youth services between April 2010 and April 2016, according to Unison. The Government may continue to deflect on this issue by repeating their commitment for decisions to be made locally, but at some point, the Government will have to take some responsibility for austerity and the ramifications.