16 October 2018

On 4th October 2018, the London Assembly Police & Crime Committee questioned Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden on the public health approach announced by the Mayor of London.


The committee

The Police & Crime Committee’s role is to scrutinise Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden and the Mayor’s Office for Policing & Crime (MOPAC), to investigate policing and crime reduction issues in London, and to make recommendations for improvements.

The Mayor announced a London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), inspired by a similar unit in Glasgow that has had extraordinary effect on the violence rate. The announcement is part of a public health approach to violence that brings police, government agencies, local authorities, health and statutory services, and the voluntary and community sector together to tackle the long-term causes of violence. London Youth supports the decision, but is waiting on more details.

You can watch the meeting here or below (see between 1:09:00 – 1:30:00).


Summary

Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden:

  • The VRU will be about “sustainability of crime reduction” and will provide “extra capacity, facilitation, and support to boroughs, partners, and community organisations already out there doing a very good job”.
  • It won’t be a direct duplication of the Glasgow model. Violence in London involves younger offenders, is more related to gun crime and social media, and is less related to alcohol.
  • The VRU will initially sit within MOPAC, but work across City Hall. It will aim to be a partnership unit with councils, NHS, communities, voluntary and community sector, police, and public health experts. She said they were open to moving the unit elsewhere if greater independence, such as from the police, was needed.
  • The initial £500,000 that has been announced (as additional Mayoral funding to MOPAC) is to establish the unit, starting with the recruitment of a director. She wants the unit up and running as quickly as possible.
  • The unit will build on other City Hall violence initiatives, including the Knife Crime Strategy, Crime Prevention Fund, Young Londoners Fund, and the Metropolitan Police’s Violent Crime Task Force.
  • It will focus on all forms of violence, including knife and gun violence, domestic abuse, and sexual violence.
  • She noted the VRU can’t make up for cuts to policing, children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), or youth services. The government needs to step up and be involved through education (particularly exclusions), youth offending teams (YOTs) and reoffending, health and CAMHS, and probation. She noted the Mayor asked for and received new powers from the Home Secretary to tackle knife crime with partners.
  • There have been discussions with London Councils and with local authorities through the Knife Crime Summit. Need for pan-London consistency and support for local borough initiatives. The VRU will provide increases capacity and expertise, probably partly through outreach workers, to each borough.
  • Ofsted will release a thematic review of schools and knife crime in 2019.

Samuel Howell, Policy Officer