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Sadiq Khan visits Stratford youth hub in push to tackle knife crime

PUBLISHED: 10:10 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 11 April 2019

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in Stratford Centre. Picture: Luke Acton.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in Stratford Centre. Picture: Luke Acton.

Luke Acton

Sadiq Khan has visited a new youth centre in Stratford as City Hall pushes a new strategy to tackle violent crime with youth activities and higher police presence this Easter.

Khan talking to young people at the Stratford XLP youth hub. Picture: Luke Acton.Khan talking to young people at the Stratford XLP youth hub. Picture: Luke Acton.

The mayor of London visited the XLP youth hub in Stratford shopping centre, which opened at the beginning of April.

The new strategy is part of a tied-up approach to get authorities working together to stop knife crime and make it easier for police to catch offenders.

Mr Khan said: “I have always been clear that we can’t arrest our way out of this issue alone.

“The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems like poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people.

Taz Mahmoud is an apprentice at XLP and has been working with the charity since he was about 10. Picture: Luke Acton.Taz Mahmoud is an apprentice at XLP and has been working with the charity since he was about 10. Picture: Luke Acton.

He told young people at the event that it was unfair some have access to services and activities to help them move away from crime and some didn’t—only based on where they lived.

Taz Mahmoud is 21 and an apprentice at XLP. He’s been with them since he was about 10.

The charity came into his life when they went to his local football cage in Canning Town.

“It was the consistency, for me. There are a few people that’d come to the cage and run football sessions, but you come there one week, when it’s raining, and they’re not there anymore.

Sadiq Khan and Rokhsana Fiaz with young people and staff at the XLP youth zone. Picture: Luke Acton.Sadiq Khan and Rokhsana Fiaz with young people and staff at the XLP youth zone. Picture: Luke Acton.

“XLP was there when it was raining, when it was snowing, they were always there.

“And if you weren’t there, they’d come to your door and get you to the session.”

Taz said there was a lot of crime and gang activity when he was growing up.

“XLP was almost like a magnet. They reeled me in and stopped me from going towards all that bad stuff.”

Sadiq Khan and Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz watching an activity at Stratford youth hub.Picture: Luke Acton.Sadiq Khan and Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz watching an activity at Stratford youth hub.Picture: Luke Acton.

While City Hall and Newham council is pushing funding for services for young people, the Stratford youth hub gets all of its money from private and corporate donors.

Although all of the XLP team was keen to get public funding—especially to employ staff to man the new space.

Both Mr Khan and Newham’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said traditional methods of pursuing violent criminals and prosecuting them had its place in the strategy.

Police commander for Newham is Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker. He’s been in the job for the past year. He’s been in the Met for 33.

DCS Richard Tucker is police commander for Newham and Waltham Forest. “Somewhere like this that would distract and divert young people away from hanging out in the street is a godsend.” Picture: Luke Acton.DCS Richard Tucker is police commander for Newham and Waltham Forest. “Somewhere like this that would distract and divert young people away from hanging out in the street is a godsend.” Picture: Luke Acton.

As a police officer, he’s glad to have the youth hub in Stratford.

“Somewhere like this that would distract and divert young people away from hanging out in the street is a godsend,” he said.

“It just helps me do my job in terms of trying to make Newham safer.”

He said that, while it will always be the police’s place to go after violent criminals, they had to ask themselves deeper questions.

XLP youth hub in Stratford shopping centre is open over Easter offering a number of activities for young people. Picture: Luke Acton.XLP youth hub in Stratford shopping centre is open over Easter offering a number of activities for young people. Picture: Luke Acton.

“While we celebrate our successes in putting violent men and boys in prison—because it’s the right thing to do—we always have to question ourselves,” he said.

“Was there another way? How did that boy end up going that route?”

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