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Camden to use reserves to fund crime ‘hotspot’ teams

Backbencher warns that society sees 'lives of black men as quite dispensible'

01 March, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Richard Olszewski at Monday’s full council meeting

CAMDEN is to use its rainy-day reserves to pay for “hotspot teams” in high crime areas.

The council will draw down £540,000 from its emergency savings to pay for new police officers, community wardens and outreach workers.

Labour finance chief Councillor Richard Olszewski said the move was planned before last week’s knife killings – and would also be used to tackle rough sleeping and drug markets.

“We know that youth violence and gang activity can be driven by the drugs market and we know the drugs market can be a significant driver for rough sleeping and street activity,” he said. “We want to keep our communities safe. There will be four extra hotspot teams targeting those areas where rough sleeping, street and drug activity are at their highest.”

His announcement of the new spending came as one of his backbench councillors warned that the community and politicians needed to take a greater interest in youth knife crime.

Councillor Awale Olad said: “I feel that society in general feels that lives of young black men are quite dispensable. We need to have a lot more care and have a much bigger interest in tackling this problem than what we’ve seen.”

He compared recent events with the death of Mahir Osman, a Somali teenager set upon by a gang armed with knives in Camden Town in 2006. “Growing up in Camden I didn’t at any point feel particularly vulnerable,” he said.

“We are seeing a fundamental shift in the way people live their lives. Young men in particular feel vulnerable, they feel angry and they feel they need to pick up weapons to defend themselves… They don’t feel they get much support, they don’t feel politicians much understand them.”

Conservatives said their budget would have invested more in youth centres and put more police on the streets.

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