GLA City & East Unmesh Desai is backing the mayor’s knife crime strategy

PUBLISHED: 09:56 11 January 2017


Before Christmas I took part in Walk the Met – an initiative where Assembly Members amongst others, were invited to join police on patrol.

I had an eventful few hours, joining a team of East End officers in their squad car. In less than five hours we directly responded to seven calls, ranging from a forced entry to an alleged robbery involving the use of a knife. It was an eye-opening experience.

The professionalism and dedication shown by officers was outstanding, particularly considering the impact of cuts and lack of resources affecting them and their capacity to fulfil their duties. An additional £400million of cuts are expected over the next four years, stretching resources even further.

There are new challenges to contend with too. Sadly, over Christmas we saw a spate of knife crime across London. It forms part of a wider trend which has seen knife crime rising for the last couple of years. These violent acts destroy lives, devastate families, and tear apart communities. It’s therefore vital that we do all we can to quickly curb this upward trend.

Mayor Khan has made tackling these atrocities a key priority and has promised a knife crime strategy. This must be broad ranging, and must deliver on his pledge to focus on prevention.

Locally we must act too. We need to find out why these crimes are on the rise and we need to explore how we tackle them in our community. In Newham, we need a conversation with young people about the dangers of carrying knives, about how we relieve peer pressure, and about the need to report violent acts. We have to consider how to use stop and search both appropriately and effectively: the roll out of body cameras should help to achieve this.

It’s a minority that carries out knife crime, but with devastating effect.

Rest assured I will be closely scrutinising the work of the mayor, police and other groups to tackle these atrocious crimes in the coming year. More from Unmesh

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