Ignoring prevention or intervention will only worsen violent crime
19 September, 2019
• WITH three murders over five days Camden now has the unenviable status of being second in the rankings of London boroughs for young lives thrown away.
The loss of these three futures is tragic and our sympathies are, of course, with their families.
But beyond that, this relentless tide of knife and now gun crime makes young people, parents, and all of us, live in fear. Fear corrodes lives and corrodes communities.
On Friday in Camden High Street strangers were wishing each other “stay safe” – a mark of resilience but also of mounting anxiety.
The Tories’ knee-jerk, populist cry for ever greater sentences offers no sort of solution, while their recent splurge of public spending has done nothing to help local youth services.
Focusing on enforcement alone and ignoring prevention or intervention will only make things worse.
And, while there is much to admire in Camden’s Youth Task Force Strategy, the continuing refusal of Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to visit the borough after each atrocity, his lack of urgency and his tendency to blame others remain a disgrace.
International experience, including successes in Glasgow, Bristol and Finland, makes it clear. There are no simple or quick solutions.
Across the political spectrum, we must commit to sustained, properly-funded, and co-ordinated action from all our public agencies.
We must engage intensively with children on the wrong path before they hit crisis. We must change the narrative of the messages we give to our children: not to scare them, but to show we care for them.
We need substantial improvement in the provision of youth services, especially during the crucial hours between the end of school and dinner time.
This must be done together with community organisations and volunteers, who already do some outstanding work.
This work must start now: we cannot afford further delay from City Hall, putting more children’s lives at risk.
Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Holborn & St Pancras