Newham Council’s war on knives and gun crime
Crime information rewarded by council
Newham Council is funding a new crime intiative with charity Crimestoppers to pay people for information leading to knife and gun crime.
The Mayor’s Reward Scheme was launched on Monday to encourage people to come forward anonymously with “actionable intelligence”, or information of a quality that leads to an arrest and charge, for a reward of anything between �150 to �1,000.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “People die when these weapons are used – that’s why we want people to come forward. It’s about making Newham’s streets safer and you could help to save someone’s life.”
Gun crime information, also involving imitation guns, includes the location where a victim was shot, any situation where a gun was fired illegally, a robbery or burglary with the aid of a gun, intimidating people with a gun or the identity of anyone carrying an unlicensed gun.
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Knife crime information is any crime that involves a knife including carrying a knife under the age of 18 and threatening someone with one.
Insisting that the move is not a response to a crime crisis in the borough, the Mayor added: “We won’t tolerate violence, we won’t tolerate knives or gangs and we’re being as proactive as we can. It’s not a big problem here but we intend to keep it that way.”
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The rewards will be funded by the council as an investment to get weapons off the streets, which is targeted at the younger population in particular. Sir Robin said: “�150 a pop, for us that’s not a lot of money. Imagine if there was 100 knives taken off the streets. �150 to take a knife off the street, then how many knives will be taken off because kids will think ‘Someone will tell on me?’
“Another thing we want to get across to kids is that by telling on people with knives, you’re actually helping them because if you get caught with a knife, something will happen and if you use it, something worse will happen. We want to stop those who are committing serious offences but we also want to send a message out to those carrying them for safety and tell them that it’s just not worth it anymore.”
London Manager of Crimestoppers Elizabeth Manning explained that when people call the contact centre, they will arrange a special number and a time frame with them and, should the information be of sufficient use, then the informant will be eligible for the reward.
She described the payment system as “Literally a brown paper bag job. We tell you what bank we use but you can choose the branch and we ring the bank manager up and tell them the number that has been arranged. Anyone can pick it up, it makes no difference, it doesn’t compromise your anonymity at all.”
Newham Council approached the independent crime charity first and they have been working with each other over the past six months.
Speaking about the relationship between the council and the charity, Elizabeth said: “Newham are giving this a special significance and that’s why this is slightly different to our work with other boroughs.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with any council and particularly one as large and diverse as Newham and because it’s such an important borough to London. Particularly with 2012 coming up next year, east London will have such a large profile.”
Sir Robin dismissed criticism that the reward scheme would only be appealing to residents’ greed and not their sense of community responsbility, saying that his council were “rewarding people for being a good citizen. This is about protecting young people who are often the biggest victims of knife and gun crime.”
If you have information about gun or knife crime in Newham, call anonymously on 0800 555 111 or fill out a secure, encrypted online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.