Lib Dem mayoral candidate calls for Glasweigan-style crime prevention tactics in Newham

Gareth Evans. Picture: Andrew Christy

Gareth Evans. Picture: Andrew Christy - Credit: Andrew Christy/Newham Lib Dems

Newham’s Lib Dem mayoral candidate, Gareth Evans, has called for the introduction of a Glasweigan-style Violence Reduction Unit to tackle rising levels of violent crime in the borough.

Speaking alongside his Hackney counterpart Pauline Pearce in a YouTube video, Mr Evans said he had become “very worried about the rise in youth violence in east London”.

“We are proposing to have a public health approach to this problem by having a Violence Reduction Unit, very similar to what they had in Glasgow 15 years ago,” he said.

The Glasgow unit was set up in 2005 to tackle knife crime and gang culture at a time when the city had the worst murder rate in western Europe.

Teachers, social workers and health professionals were trained to look for the signs of violence, gang membership and domestic abuse.

Anyone displaying these signs would be offered counselling.

The unit also lobbied successfully for tougher sentences for those caught carrying knives.

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Ms Pearce said the strategy should also involve former gang members who have “turned their life round” and are willing to “give back to their community” by supporting those at risk from violent crime and gangs.

Glasgow’s murder rate more than halved in the ten years that followed the creation of the unit. There were also similar decreases in attempted murders, serious assaults and possessions of an offensive weapon.

Shadow home secretary and Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott also recently called for a public health approach. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is reportedly exploring the option.

The introduction would have “a real impact on the growing youth violence that we have seen in this borough,” said Mr Evans.

Reports of London’s murder rate overtaking New York’s for the first time is a cause for concern, both said.

There has been a surge in violent crime in London over the past few months, with more than 50 people being killed in the capital so far in 2018.

“Prevention is better than cure,” said Ms Pearce. “We have to campaign and fight for the futures of our children and take them off the streets.”

“We have to say no to knives, no to guns, and yes to life,” she said.