Mayor sets up Violence Reduction Unit to tackle violent crime

20 September 2018

Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to establish a new Violence Reduction Unit, building on the work City Hall, the Met Police, local authorities, youth services, health services and criminal justice agencies have been doing to prevent the spread of violent crime in London.

The Violence Reduction Unit, building on existing partnerships, will bring together specialists to work together to reduce violence in the capital by taking a public health approach.

A public health approach treats violent crime as a disease – first working to contain it and stop it from spreading, then addressing the root causes. In practice, this often involves intervening at critical moments in a young person’s life; for example, if they have suffered trauma or been excluded from school.

The new unit is designed to function alongside police enforcement. In particular, the Violent Crime Taskforce – a special Met team of 272 officers funded by City Hall – is working hard to tackle violence in London’s worst-affected areas, making arrests and taking weapons off the streets.

“The causes of violent crime are extremely complex, involving deep-seated societal problems like poverty, social alienation, mental ill health and a lack of opportunity,” Sadiq Khan said.

“Since I became Mayor, I’ve been working tirelessly with local councils, charities and community groups on a public health approach to tackling serious violence, but it’s clear we need to do more to support them in driving down not just knife crime, but all forms of violent crime,” he added. 

It comes after the Mayor and his team spent several months researching the experience of agencies in Glasgow, where a public health approach has led to large reductions in serious violence over the past decade.

Set up with an initial £500,000, the Violence Reduction Unit will look to build on Glasgow’s success, scaling up an approach that has worked in a city with a population of 600,000 people to a capital with nearly 9 million.

Its ultimate aim is to divert vulnerable young people away from criminal activity by supporting them at an early age, giving them better life opportunities and enabling them to fulfil their potential.

The new unit also complements the Mayor’s £45 million Young Londoners Fund, which offers young people positive alternatives to crime and helps those caught up in gangs to get into employment and training.

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