Image of killer with machete in dark apartment with red light at night

Machetes and zombie knives could be banned in England and Wales

Machetes and zombie knives could be banned in England and Wales, with people selling them facing up to two years in jail, under government plans to close a legal loophole.

After complaints from police chiefs and MPs that some large, bladed weapons are excluded from current laws, the Home Office will consult the public over plans to ban their ownership and sale.

Certain blades that are “designed to look menacing” and “with the intention to threaten” are not currently prohibited but would be outlawed under proposed measures, the Home Office said.

Knife crime has increased by 9% in the past year and 34% in the past decade, to 45,000 offences.

This month a judge urged jurors to write to their MPs about the “shocking” availability of dangerous weapons online after a man was found guilty of killing an 18-year-old with a 22-inch zombie knife.

Under laws introduced in 2016, police can only confiscate and prosecute possession of zombie knives in private homes if they meet three criteria. The knives must have a cutting edge, a serrated edge and “images or words that suggest it is to be used for the purpose of violence”.

Inspired by horror films, the curved blades with serrated edges are often sold as collector’s items, but police say they are increasingly being carried by criminals.

Machetes have no such markings, while some retailers have been selling zombie knives without any writing or images on them or even packaging that would allow police to seize them.

While machetes and other similar knives can have legitimate uses in gardening and the agricultural sector, the Home Office said criminals were buying, selling and using larger bladed articles as weapons to intimidate and cause others serious harm.

The seven-week public consultation will define which machetes and large knives will be banned, inviting views to ensure proposals are targeted and balanced in order to keep our streets safe, the Home Office said.

The home secretary, Suella Braverman, said: “The thugs wielding these deadly knives aim to terrorise their victims and the public, and too often even carry out horrific or fatal attacks. They are emboldened by the cowardly idea that carrying these blades inflates their own status and respect.”



Study shows impact of knife imagery not universal, but is more profound for some young people affected by violence


Study shows impact of knife imagery not universal, but is more profound for some young people affected by violence

  • Researchers suggest some young people may be ‘desensitised’ to seeing images of large knives posted on social media
  • Peer-led study shows knife imagery can make young people feel fearful and scared
  • Small number of young people admitted seeing images of large knives would make them more likely to carry a knife themselves

New research published by London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has found that there is a negligible effect on young people of seeing images of knives posted by police on social media – but the impact on a smaller group of young people could be profound.

Researchers also suggests that some children and young people have become desensitised to seeing images of large knives and machetes seized where they live.

In January last year, London’s VRU commissioned research on behalf of its Young People’s Action Group (YPAG) who were concerned that posting images of knives seized by the police on social media could contribute to a sense of fear in communities, particularly amongst young people. 

It’s recognised that there is a strong debate around images of knives and dangerous weapons seized by the police being published online. Alongside creating a sense of fear for some, the VRU’s YPAG also raised concerns that seeing images of big knives seized on London’s streets by police can lead to some young people getting hold of more dangerous weapons and knives in order to protect themselves.

The VRU commissioned research, led by University College London, to examine the impact on young people of knife imagery posted by police on social media. The research, published today, found little to suggest that viewing social media posts of knives seized by police had an impact on young people’s attitudes towards knives and knife-carrying. Researchers suggested this may be due to young people having become desensitised to seeing images of knives. They recommended further qualitative research to capture the views of young people already affected by knife-carrying or harm.

To support the research, the YPAG carried out peer-led surveys and a series of workshops with a group of young people aged 12-25 who benefit from the VRU’s programmes aimed at tackling violence and exploitation. It gave them a safe platform to discuss their views of the impact of seeing images of knives online.

It found that seeing images of knives seized by police and posted on social media can lead to young people feeling fearful and unsafe about where they live.

The surveys and workshops found that:

  • The majority of young people (53 per cent – 18 young people) felt unsafe, scared and worried upon seeing images of knives posted on social media by police
  • 55 per cent (17 young people) felt their family and communities would feel afraid and fearful upon seeing images of knives posted online
  • Three young people (8 per cent) even admitted they would be more likely to carry a knife after seeing images of what had been confiscated where they live 

When asked how seeing an image of a confiscated knife on police social media accounts would make them feel, one young person said: “If I see someone is carrying something horrific in my area and all I’m carrying is a flick knife.. what do you think I’m gonna do?”

What was clear through the survey of young people and the workshops, was that for some young people seeing knives online does create a sense of fear and can also trigger knife-related trauma.

It also demonstrated that young people are supportive of the police tackling violence and removing dangerous weapons, but the overwhelming consensus was that instead of showing images of large knives, the Met should instead focus on the good work it is doing with communities and young people.

One young person said: “The Met constantly telling us there’s knives here just further normalises it as our reality.”

As a result of the evidence, and having listened to the concerns of young people, the VRU’s Young People’s Action Group recommends that the Met stop posting images of confiscated knives on social media because of the impact it has on some young people and communities, and in a very small number of cases, can lead to a young person choosing to pick up a knife to protect themselves.

The VRU and the YPAG are keen to work with the Met to support other ways of visually demonstrating its work with communities and young people have set out a series of recommendations, which includes interviews with officers and holding events with young people to focus on the work they are doing to make communities safer.

This approach would be similar to Thames Valley, South Yorkshire and the West Midlands, whose police forces have already taken a decision to stop posting images of knives seized on social media.

Jade Barnett, member of VRU’s Young People’s Action Group, said:

“The Young People’s Action Group wanted to examine the issue of knife imagery because we had heard from other young people and communities that posting images of knives on social media platforms creates a sense of fear.

“We know this impact is not universal – not all young people will be affected by seeing images of large knives online, but neither are all young people affected by violence.

“Whilst the research showed there was little effect, what it does suggest and was backed up by surveys and workshops directly with young people, is that some young people – including myself – have been desensitised in relation to seeing images of knives.

“It’s worrying to know that young people see this as a normality. What the sessions with young people did uncover is that there is a negative impact, based around fear and trauma, for a small group of young people who are already too close to violence. Why would be want to seek to subject these young people to further trauma? 

“I hope that this research is an eye opener and that the posting of knife imagery isn’t positively impacting the police’s relationships with our communities.

“I have high hopes that with the support of the VRU, including members of the YPAG, we will build a strong relationship with the Met to move away from posting images of knives and find other ways of demonstrating the work they are doing.”

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“Listening to the voices of young people is an integral part of our approach to tackling violence, which is rooted in prevention and early intervention.

“That’s why we supported our Young People’s Action Group who felt very strongly about the complex issue of knife imagery.

“What is clear is that while, for the large majority of the young people we surveyed, there is little effect of seeing images of knives online, the impact for a smaller group of young people who may be affected by violence, is much more profound.

“Both the research and peer-led workshops and surveys demonstrated that our young people have become desensitised to seeing images on social media of large knives confiscated where they live. That really can’t be right or acceptable in society.

“We know that’s the exact opposite of what’s intended by the police who share our determination to tackle violence and make our communities safer for all Londoners. It’s important we listen to our young people and take action now to stop posting images.”   

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, Louisa Rolfe, said:

“We value the involvement of young Londoners, on the important and ongoing debate around sharing images of knives on social media. We look forward to working with the Young People’s Action Group, to understand their recommendations and how it could affect our communications around knife-crime.

“Historically we have shared images to highlight the work of our officers and their successful results. This has helped to reassure communities that the Met is committed to targeting those carrying weapons and fuelling violence our streets.  Other research has suggested this is important to communities.

“We are an evidence-driven organisation, and that extends to the way in which we communicate with Londoners. We look forward to reviewing the results of this research and engaging with our communities,  which will inform our approach moving forward.”

Knife Crime - Youth Unity

London violence: Children as young as 10 fear being stabbed

Source Link BBC News: By Jennifer McKiernan

London set an unwelcome new record of 30 teenage stabbing homicides in 2021, while a third of all of England’s stabbing deaths are reported by the Metropolitan Police.

The picture in the capital is bleak: fearful for their safety, more children are carrying knives, community workers say. Some pupils are so afraid of being attacked they are being shuttled to school by taxi.

What can be done to save young people’s lives in 2022?

At recent crisis talks the BBC attended with police, youth workers and school leaders, community activist Tilisha Goupall recounted the traumatic story of watching her 15-year-old brother Jermaine die on the pavement in front of her. Since his death in 2017 she’s worked to try to prevent similar tragedies.

She explained that when she asked a group of children about to start at secondary school what they were most afraid of, “100% of them, all primary school children, said they were [most] scared of being stabbed”.

Speaking of the trauma some of these 10 and 11-year-olds have experienced, Ms Goupall said: “Thirty young people died last year, which is a whole classroom.”

For the activist, who founded the Justice for Jermaine Foundation, the way to tackle the issue of knife-carrying is to let campaigners like her into schools to speak to pupils.

She said that by telling young people how her brother bled to death, it meant they could relate to the tragedy and, she hopes, will be less likely to carry a knife.

“We try to sugar-coat it but they are already exposed to all this, so we shouldn’t sugar-coat it any more.”

One of those present at the talks in Croydon, a south London borough where five teenagers were stabbed to death last year, was the principal of Oasis Academy, Saqib Chaudhri.

He has long had reservations about letting activists into his school but said he had changed his mind following the deaths of two of his students in 2021, because he currently felt “powerless”.

“I [previously] refused to allow the streets of Croydon into my corridors because I wanted my corridors to feel like a safe space,” he said.

“I’m looking at it differently now – I’m thinking how can I get the streets and the community into my school?

“The borough needs to come into every single school for the times the school can’t be there.”

Knife crime is crazy since the summer,” according to Aaron Nzita, 19, who explained how he was mugged at knifepoint in September.

Mr Nzita, who works in community engagement, was at a cash machine on Croydon’s London Road when he was approached from behind and shoved over a knee-high wall by a teenager.

“This young guy just pushed me over the wall, grabbed me, and said he would stab me in my face if I didn’t give him all my money,” he said.

“It was really nerve-wracking – I thought I was going to end up in hospital.” Luckily, two passers-by approached and the would-be mugger fled.

“Knife crime right now has got everybody on the edge of their seats,” Mr Nzita added. “My mum is not letting my little brother out – it just needs to stop.

“Some kids before didn’t want to speak to police at all, but now they’re frightened so they want to speak to police.”

Mr Nzita said he knew of children who carried a knife “just in case”.

“Most of these kids are not going to stab someone to kill them, they are just trying to protect themselves and make a statement.”


London homicides driven by drugs and social media, study finds

Drugs, missed mental health sessions and social media usage are factors driving homicides, a study has found.


The London Violence Reduction Unit’s (VRU) report analysed police data to better understand the causes of murder and manslaughter.

Last year, there was a record number of teenage killings in the capital, despite a national Covid-19 lockdown.

Each homicide costs the police and criminal justice system an estimated £800,000, the report claims.

London’s homicide rate means it would have an annual cost of about £120m.

Established by the London mayor’s office, the VRU study by the behavioural insights team aimed to find a framework for experts, including the police, to deliver early and targeted interventions.

Following an analysis of 50 homicides, it found:

  • Existing police codes did not flag up all cases where mental health was a contributing factor
  • Drug-related homicides overlapped with all of the factors included in the analysis
  • Social media usage in homicides was more sophisticated than sharing threats or aggressive language online
  • The ability to delete messages on Snapchat was known and used, which may explain why it was favoured in the context of committing violence
  • Alcohol was more likely to contribute to homicides at particular times of day or key locations
  • Gang violence presented a particular homicide risk to young people

They will now use the framework to analyse another 300 cases with a view to it potentially being used more routinely in the capital.


An article taken from Fighting Knife Crime

Fighting Knife Crime: The Clinical Director for the London Violence Reduction Programme and Clinical Director for Violence Reduction NHSE gives an insight into the cause and effect of serious violence amongst young people


Martin Griffiths CBE, Consultant Trauma and Vascular Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust, and Clinical Director for the London Violence Reduction Programme and Clinical Director for Violence Reduction NHSE, gives us an insight into the cause and effect of serious violence amongst young people.

A child arrives on a hospital ward with traumatic injuries inflicted during a knife fight with someone of his own age. He may be brought in on a stretcher, still wearing his school uniform. This is not a fanciful scenario in London, where I grew up and have spent most of my working life. Grouped by age, the greatest number of victims of knife wounds are 16-year olds. The second biggest cohort is 15-year olds.

What responsibility does the NHS have towards this injured child? First of all, of course his injuries must be treated so that he is restored to physical health, which the NHS does brilliantly. The traditional view of the NHS’s responsibilities was to say we are a recovery service for the injured and the ill, and that is it. We patch them up and send them home: the rest is up to the police and social care services.

But a curious person asks what will happen to the boy who is discharged from hospital and sent straight back into the environment where he sustained his injuries? We start at the wrong end, in the wrong place, after the child has been injured. We need to know, and more importantly understand the story that preceded that injury.

No one reading this will be surprised to know that the victims of knife wounds are almost all from poor families, and from groups often denied access to the mechanics of authority. We know many of these people face inequalities and challenges, such as drug addiction, obesity, mental health issues, poor school results and poor employment prospects.

We could talk about the small amount of organised crime, which dominates the headlines, which is a separate issue. Most of what is termed ‘gang culture’ is simply groups of disadvantaged youths banding together to assert themselves. For a young person growing up in an environment with high levels of violence, carrying a knife is a way of saying “I handle my own business. I’m not docile I will not be a victim. Nobody crosses me. If they do, I’m going to deal with it myself.” It’s a way of asserting significance, of taking power.

As a consultant trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, I came to the conclusion years ago that the NHS is brilliant at treating a person’s injuries but terrible at treating the injured person.

It’s an attitude that fails young patients and their families. It’s not socially responsible. It’s not even a money saver. The child who has been in one knife fight, who is sent straight back into the same environment, with nothing having changed in his life except that he has a new scar, is probably going to get involved in another fight. Next time, he may be the perpetrator rather than the victim. It’s very rarely an older person who has injured a teenager, and where that happens, there is usually some other driver involved, such as the drug trade. These injuries, in almost all cases, are inflicted by teenagers on teenagers. Treat one and send him home, and there will be another along soon.

To try to stop this churn, I set up the first wards-based violence reduction service in the Royal London Hospital in 2015 in which we recognise that a person’s injury is a marker of their life story. It’s not about criminality, it’s about understanding that person’s life. To start with, the patient is addressed by name and treated as a person with a back story. We’ve brought community police officers onto the ward, not to investigate a crime, but to make human contact with a teenager who is likely to think that the police are the enemy.

With funding from the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction unit and charities, we introduced the patients to violence reduction specialists, people without medical background but with training as social workers or in related fields. They have the gifts of livedexperience, relatability and emotional intelligence that make them perfect for helping the victims of injury navigate this unfamiliar and scary landscape.

I believe Health and Care Services have a unique role in improving wellbeing and tackling inequalities for people impacted by serious violence. To make this a reality, the NHS London Violence Reduction Programme was set up in 2019 to support clinical teams and to work with experts and those with lived experience to co- create health and care approaches that work for communities.

And, in 2019, I had an email from Simon Stevens’ office, then the Chief Executive of the NHS, asking if I would take the programme nationwide. I was hugely uncertain. I’m a trauma surgeon: I am not professionally qualified as a public health expert, and questioned my credibility in this deeply emotive field. But in Leeds, Manchester, Middlesborough and in rural areas in the south west, many of the drivers are the same as they are in London, although the outputs of that societal failure appear different. More importantly, some of the solutions are applicable to the UK as a whole. So, I agreed, and was appointed the NHS’s first Clinical Director for Violence Reduction.

People question whether violence reduction is part of the business of the NHS. But the NHS is where the victims of that violence are treated. The NHS is the umbrella, not the rain. The question is how do we affect climate change?

Martin P Griffiths CBE

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Mayor invests in positive activities for young people this summer

  • City Hall is funding hundreds of positive activities to support thousands of young Londoners during the holidays and beyond
  • London’s Violence Reduction Unit, the first of its kind in the country, is investing £3m specifically to support communities and provide a mentoring package for young people through this summer and into new school term

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today set out a comprehensive package of measures to support communities by funding hundreds of positive activities and opportunities for young Londoners in the capital this summer.

With fears of a surge in youth violence, as restrictions are lifted across the city and schools break up for the summer holidays, Sadiq is determined to tackle violence and ensure young Londoners continue to be supported with a range of positive opportunities so they can gain confidence, have fun and stay safe.

London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), England’s first and set up by the Mayor, is investing £800,000 to mentor young people in Pupil Referral Units, both during the summer and into the new academic year. A further £1m of funding, through the London Community Response Fund, will deliver a programme of mentoring and support activities for 4,000 young people.

Alongside this, the London VRU has launched the Stronger Futures Programme – a targeted programme aimed at funding community-led groups across London with £1.2m of investment to support vulnerable young Londoners by providing them with opportunities and support in the hours following school and at weekends. The programme will begin next month.

The Mayor is committed to driving down violence in the capital by continuing to be both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. This includes supporting more than 300 projects with £70m of funding from City Hall. Overall, this work is creating positive opportunities for more than 110,000 disadvantaged young Londoners.

This summer the Mayor’s investment will provide activities for around 5,000 young people – from dance, theatre and music, to basketball, angling and horse-riding. Londoners can find activities on City Hall’s interactive Our London Map by searching for their borough or by activity. Much of this investment is targeted in the wards at higher risk of violence, and with higher levels of poverty and deprivation.  

The Mayor has worked closely with the Met Police, communities and criminal justice partners to put together a comprehensive plan in place to improve the safety of young people in the capital this summer.  This includes targeted enforcement of violent offenders, combined with support to help divert people away from crime and a programme to provide positive opportunities for young Londoners.

Today, Apple is launching a free summer programme centred around music and radio production for young Londoners lacking in opportunity in communities underrepresented in the industry. Apple Creative Studios London, delivered in partnership with City Hall, aims to enable young Londoners to “unlock their creativity” within their communities. Throughout a four-week period, the full-time programme will offer hands-on experience in professional studio settings and mentorship from renowned artists in the radio and music industries. 

This latest programme builds on the Mayor’s partnership with Apple to help young people gain the skills they need to get the jobs of tomorrow, while also ensuring they have something constructive and safe to do during the summer holidays.2

The Mayor today visited the Dream, Believe, Succeed project, delivered by Edmonton Community Partnership with funding through London’s VRU. The partnership is an alliance of 19 schools, community organisations and local young people. It provides prevention and intervention programmes to children and young people between 10 and 16 who are either at risk or involved in violence.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“I’m determined to tackle violence in London by continuing to be both tough on violent crime and tough on the root causes of violent crime. There will be an increased police presence this summer in the areas of London worst affected by violence, but we know we will never simply be able to arrest our way out of the problem. That’s why, working with communities across our city, we’ve created thousands of new positive opportunities for young people so they have somewhere safe to go this summer, where they can make the most of their talents.

“With lockdown restrictions now lifted and schools breaking up for the holidays, it’s more important than ever that we work together to ensure we don’t see a rise in violence over the summer months. This means supporting our young people, diverting them away from crime and giving them opportunities to thrive. 

“City Hall and London’s Violence Reduction Unit, the first of its kind in the country, is investing in hundreds of programmes – from mentoring and support for families, to sport, music and performing arts. Our city is brimming with opportunities for young Londoners this summer and beyond and I would encourage people to get involved.” 

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“London’s Violence Reduction is committed to putting young people at the heart of everything we do. Our focus is on supporting families and communities to make them more resilient and to provide positive opportunities to help young Londoners build confidence and to thrive.

“We know the importance of role models to young people and that’s why we’re investing in mentoring to provide support both in school, after school and during the summer holidays. I’m also pleased that we have launched a new targeted programme to provide support for young Londoners that are vulnerable to violence with series of opportunities and support in the hours following school and at weekends.

“We firmly believe that violence is preventable and not inevitable, and the VRU will continue to place our focus and investment in working with communities and being a voice and a champion for young people in London.”

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, CEO of London Youth said:

Youth clubs and positive opportunities have never been so vital for young Londoners. Having somewhere they can go this summer, where they feel safe, can learn new skills, in a youth organisation based in their local community, supported by youth workers they know and trust is critical for young people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Our member clubs have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to keep their doors open to the city’s most vulnerable young people whilst operating within the changing guidance, providing support online where face to face activities were not possible. Keeping those supportive relationships ongoing has been a lifeline for so many.”

Trevor Blackman, Lead Partnership Manager for the Edmonton Community Partnership, said: 

“With the funding from London’s Violence Reduction Unit, we’ve created a complete wrap-around service to support young people. Everything is connected. From the parents, the schools, our mentors and community and council partnerships, young people have been provided with much-needed support.

“This isn’t about ‘sitting them down and talking to them’. This is about fun activities that they engage with. It’s about having the opportunity to not fall into violent crime.

“It’s about feeling that you belong and have the support to do what’s right. Only by working in partnership, including leadership from our partnership of 19 schools, can we make this happen. Our Dream Believe and Succeed Project is providing real engagement and real support and creating something that’s really effective during and out of school time, including the summer holidays.”

Thom Palser, Spotlight Service Manager at Poplar HARCA said:

“Thanks to City Hall funding, Spotlight, in Tower Hamlets, will be focussing our free summer programme of activities around self-care and wellbeing following a difficult year for young Londoners. Programmes have been designed to provide young people opportunities to improve their well-being and happiness through acts of self-love and kindness. Sessions include dance, theatre, music, sports and fitness, inspirational talks and meditation as well as offering ongoing youth support, counselling and mentoring in a safe environment.

“Spotlight is also pleased to partner with Apple and Reprezent to deliver the Creative Studios LDN programme, giving young artists the opportunity to write and produce their own track under the guidance of top industry professionals and artists. Plus we will be supporting the artists to release their tracks and perform live on Reprezent radio. To find out more please visit”

Notes to editors

1 You can use the Our London Map to find activities for children and young people in London and can search by postcode, town, borough, and activity.

2 The programme starts during the school holidays and partners with youth-led radio station Reprezent 107.3FM in Brixton for those aged between 18-24 and Spotlight, a creative arts youth service based in Tower Hamlets, for those aged 16-25. The programme will provide career-building mentorship, access to creative resources and professional industry skills training.

3 The Stronger Futures Programme will enable community-led groups to support vulnerable young Londoners by providing them with opportunities and support in the hours following school, as well as at weekends in some cases. It will invest £1.2m in 20 projects across London. Grants of between £50,000 and £100,000 will be awarded, with an anticipated average size of c.£65,000 to be fully spent by August 2022. This funding is designed specifically for groups and organisations in London which can demonstrate a track record of working with vulnerable young people who are either at risk or have been involved in violence.   Stronger Futures Programme 2021/22 ⋆


Mayor reveals driving factors behind violence affecting young people and invests in support for almost 100,000 more young Londoners

  • City Hall publishes its most detailed analysis yet which lays bare the extent of the link between violence and poverty, deprivation and unemployment
  • Latest figures show that the overall number of knife crime victims under 25 is down, with youth violence, knife crime and gun crime also falling
  • Evidence shows the pandemic has exacerbated the factors that put young people at risk of being affected by violence
  • Sadiq sets out his commitment to provide positive opportunities for young Londoners and to give them hope for a brighter future

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced his commitment to support almost 100,000 more young Londoners over the next year, investing in opportunities to help them thrive and to help divert them away from violence.

Today, Sadiq has published new City Hall analysis that reveals the complex factors at play in people’s lives, homes and communities that can alter the likelihood of someone taking the wrong path and getting caught up in violence. This includes deep-rooted and ingrained social and economic issues such as poverty, inequality, high unemployment, school exclusions, poor mental health and a lack of youth services.

The new research City Hall released today shows that all 10 of the boroughs with the highest rates of victims of serious violence have higher rates of child poverty than the London average. 

The analysis also shines a light on how violence is having a disproportionate impact on young Black Londoners who are significantly overrepresented, both as victims and offenders. For instance, Black teenage boys are six times more likely to be killed by violence than white boys in London. 

Delivering a major speech at The Black Prince Community Trust in Lambeth, the Mayor will highlight the worrying impact the pandemic has had on young Londoners.

Research has demonstrated the link between high rates of unemployment and levels of violence, and City Hall analysis reveals the pandemic has exacerbated the factors that put young people at risk of becoming involved in, or a victim of, violence, by pushing more young Londoners into unemployment and poverty. For example, Universal Credit claims have risen by nearly 130 per cent – with the highest increases in the top five boroughs for rates of serious youth violence.  

London also has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country as the city has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and the huge impact on the sectors such as hospitality.

More than a fifth of those aged 16-24 are currently unemployed, an increase of two per cent since 2019. [2] Six of 10 boroughs with the highest increases in unemployment are also in the top 10 boroughs for serious violence. [3] This is just one of the reasons that the Mayor was clear that a top priority for his second term in office would be ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ for Londoners. Through the Mayor’s schemes he is offering every Londoner who is unemployed or earning under the London living wage the chance to enrol on a course to retrain and help them find employment.

Reducing violence and making London safer is the Mayor’s number one priority. New analysis from City Hall shows that all types of serious violence experienced by young people have fallen over the last four years. Figures show that violence was falling in London before the pandemic, and over the past year knife crime, youth violence and gun crime have come down further. [1]. The research shows that serious crimes such as knife crime resulting in injury is down 36 per cent and under-25 knife crime has reduced 48 per cent, compared to the peak in the twelve months to December 2017. But the Mayor is clear there is much more to do to stop young lives being lost to senseless violence, and to prevent violence from happening in the first place.

Speaking in south London today about the commitment to redouble efforts to reduce violence as London recovers from the pandemic, Sadiq will set out how he will continue to be both tough on crime and tough on the complex causes of crime.  This means ensuring the police have the resources they need to bear down on criminality, gangs and the drugs market, as well as the importance of investing in positive opportunities for young Londoners to give them hope for the future.

The Mayor set up London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) – the first in England – to deliver programmes that support young Londoners through education, training and help into employment. Sadiq will today announce that over the course of the next 12 months, City Hall and the VRU will be delivering a combined package of measures that will support almost 100,000 more young Londoners.

On his pledge to empower and invest in the future of young Londoners the Mayor is expected to say:

“Every death as a result of this needless violence is an utter tragedy. It leaves lives destroyed and families grieving, it tears communities apart, fuels fear and deprives our city of so much talent.   

“The latest figures show that the overall number of knife crime victims under 25 is down by 39 per cent compared to 2019, and by 31 per cent compared to 2018.  Overall, youth violence has been going down. Knife crime has been going down. And gun crime has been going down.  The level of violence impacting young Londoners remains far too high and we clearly have a long way to go, but it’s important that we acknowledge signs of progress so that we can learn from what’s starting to work and build upon it. 

“My main message today is not one of despair, rather a message of determination that we are redoubling our efforts to reduce violence as we recover from the pandemic.

“A crucial part of the solution is always going to be supporting the police to bear down relentlessly on criminality, which I will continue to do.  But we must be both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. Because the truth is we know there’s a complex set of factors at play in people’s lives, homes and communities, which can alter the likelihood of someone taking the wrong path and getting involved in violence.  

“The vast majority of young Black Londoners are not involved in violence in any way. But young Black Londoners are significantly more likely to be a victim or a perpetrator of serious violence. That’s because it’s not skin colour that determines your chances of being a victim or an offender, but societal and economic factors, such as the disproportionate rates of poverty, unemployment and school exclusions that affect Black lives.

“When I highlight these conditions associated with violence, I’m not excusing criminality in any way. But any sensible society understands that it’s in our own interest to remove the conditions that allow criminality to thrive. To provide positive opportunities for young Londoners who could otherwise be vulnerable to exploitation. To proactively tackle the structural barriers and racial inequality that Black Londoners face – from housing and poverty to education and the workplace. And to give young Londoners hope for a brighter future. 

“Surely, we must all want young Londoners to feel like they have a stake in society, rather than feeling so hopeless that they’re willing to stake their lives for so little. 

“I’m pleased to announce that next year – over the course of just 12 months – we’ll be stepping up our work with a package of measures that will support almost 100,000 more young Londoners.”  

Notes to editors

The new analysis, published by the Greater London Authority’s City Intelligence Unit, looks at the driving factors behind young people becoming involved in or a victim of violence.

This reveals the link between violence and school exclusions, deprivation and poverty, including areas where people are most likely to struggle to access food. In addition, the research highlights the disproportionate impact violence is having on young Black Londoners.

Understanding the most serious violence among young people in London, Greater London Authority’s City Intelligence Unit

Key findings:

  • Young Black Londoners are disproportionately represented amongst the victims of all types of serious violence – they are three times more likely than young White Londoners to be a victim of knife crime, and five times more likely to be a victim of homicide.
  • Rates of offending for the most serious violence, knife crime and homicide were highest for those aged 15-19
  • Under 25s knife crime (non-DA) down 48% compared to its peak in the twelve months to December 2017
  • Total knife crime resulting in injury was 36% lower than the peak recorded in twelve months to November 2017
  • Gun crime was 50% below the peak recorded in twelve months to July 2017
  • Lethal barrelled gun discharges were 52% lower than the peak recorded in the twelve months to December 2018
  • Burglary was 34% below the volume recorded in the peak period of twelve months to October 2019
  • Absence rates from secondary school were also a significant factor in predicting Boroughs with the highest rates of offending relating to serious violence [1]
  • London has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country. More than a fifth of those aged 16-24 are currently unemployed, an increase of two per cent since 2019. [2] Six of 10 boroughs with the highest increases in unemployment are also in the top 10 boroughs for serious violence. [3]
  • During the pandemic, Universal Credit claims have increased by 186 per cent in Brent and 177 per cent in Newham – two of the top five boroughs for rates of offending.[4]
  • 54,000 young people aged 16-24 in London claimed unemployed-related benefits in October 2021 – 7.3 per cent of Londoners in that age group, up from 3.8 per cent in March 2020.[5]
  • The number of food parcels given out by the Trussell Trust more than doubled in London in 2020/21 – higher than in any other part of the country. Seven of the boroughs with the largest increase were also in the top 10 for serious violence.[6]


[1] Understanding the most serious violence among young people in London, Greater London Authority’s City Intelligence Unit:

[2] ONS Labour Force Survey

[3] ONS Claimant count by sex and age

[4] Department for Work and Pensions most recent data for March-September 2021

[5] ONS Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information

[6] Trussell Trust report:


Stop and Search

Stop and search has been a controversial feature of policing for decades. You might think it was being reduced, in a post-Macpherson, post-Black Lives Matter world, where people have been talking about how to decrease the grossly disproportionate overpolicing of black communities for so long. But shockingly, provisions in the policing bill will widely increase its use and water down the need for suspicion in a number of ways. If it passes, the bill will enable police to stop and search people subject to certain orders at any time without any suspicion; and anyone at all in a certain area, if they believe certain types of protests might take place nearby.


I’m a police officer, and I fear increased powers of stop and search will undermine public trust

Andy George

We know that stop and search is overwhelmingly used on one particular group: black people are at least eight times as likely as their white counterparts to be stopped and searched. The constant threat of stop and search makes young black men and boys nervous around the police; it chips away at trust and respect and means the very people who are meant to be viewed as protectors, are viewed as oppressors.

Community engagement needs to be seen as crime prevention and essential to effective policing. Gangs thrive where policing is not legitimate and if we want to protect communities from the minority of people involved in serious violence, we must ensure we have meaningful and long-term community engagement in the most deprived areas. Real crime prevention requires police to work with communities to build trust so that they feel confident in letting us know who is causing most harm. You simply cannot enforce your way out of serious violence.

I know that all too well from my time spent living and policing in Northern Ireland, which witnessed the most violent and protracted conflict to take place in the UK in living memory. I joined as a constable in 1999 and spent 10 years in the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s armed response unit before being promoted to inspector. In 1999, we had about 13,500 police officers, backed up by more than 7,000 military personnel with static checkpoints going into most towns and cities.

I have no doubt the use of stop and search in Northern Ireland saved lives, but despite the heavy footprint and use of powers, the killing still continued until we sat down with those engaged in the violence and put measures in place to deal with the causes of violence. Now, we police a larger population with about 7,000 police officers, and with no military personnel routinely patrolling with us. Despite the progress that has been made, we still have active paramilitaries coercing and exploiting the community; these paramilitaries thrive in areas where trust in the police is low and where communities feel powerless to speak out against them. Individuals will often work with the police if they are treated with courtesy and respect instead of as suspects with no sufficient grounds.

Both the College of Policing and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary have questioned the effectiveness of existing stop-and-search powers in the detection and prevention of crime. Both bodies concluded that the overuse and misuse of the power has clearly undermined public trust and confidence in the police, specifically among Black and Asian communities who are so disproportionately targeted.

These warnings should be heeded. It’s often said that it’s natural for police to want ever more powers. The old adage is it’s for police to ask and the minister to say no. In this case, though, important voices from within policing, and policing oversight bodies, are united in their opposition to the increased use of stop-and-search powers included within the policing bill. The last thing we need is more of what doesn’t target the causes of crime or reduce serious violence.

  • Andy George is president of the National Black Police Association



Very moving anti knife crime exhibition opens in Barking


Yesterday Wednesday 29 September saw the launch of the third Ben Kinsella Trust exhibition. Based in Barking, the exhibition is the largest of the three and explains the tragic and heartbreaking story of Ben Kinsella. It also hosts pictures and stories of other local teenagers who have lost their life to knife crime- Champion Ghanda 17 years old, Duran Kajiama 17 years old and Jody Chesney 17 years old.

Present at the event in Barking was Champion’s mum Peguy who runs All Champions Charity to support other bereaved families. Peguy is a very inspirational lady who has dedicated her life helping other families.

Beatrice Mushiya Duran’s mum was there to give her support to families of knife crime alongside Peter Chesney who was also at the event.

Supported by Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell Leader of the council addressed the large crowd to introduce everyone to the evening’s events.

The Ben Kinsella exhibition aims to educate young people on the dangers of knife crime and help them to make positive choices to stay safe. The workshops follow the journey of both the victim and the offender through a series of unique and immersive experiences to show young people how choices and consequences are linked.

Their workshops change young people’s attitudes to knife crime; debunking the myth that carrying a knife will protect you. They strengthen peer values; ensuring young people give better advice to each other and challenge peers who are carrying (or thinking of carrying) a knife.

They currently have two exhibitions, which are based in Finsbury Library in Islington and in the National Justice Museum in Nottingham.

Ben Kinsella was a 16-year-old boy from Islington who was stabbed to death in a horrific act of senseless violence on 29 June 2008.

Ben had been out at a local pub to celebrate the end of his GCSEs with his friends. On their way home, he and his friends realised they were being followed by three older teenagers. Scared and worried, they decided to run home.

But the older teenagers chased after them. They were seeking revenge for an altercation in the club that had taken place earlier that evening. Ben and his friends had absolutely nothing to do with the altercations, but when the older boys caught up with Ben, in an entirely unprovoked attack, they stabbed him to death.

Also present at yesterday’s launch was DC Anoushka Dunic the East Area Police Gangs Engagement Officer who does fantastic work across East London helping parents and teenagers, PC Michael Wallace from Kick off@3, who does amazing work with teenagers across London, Quinton Green, the very talented spoken word artist who works with many educational organisations helping teenagers and Shirley Jackson the founder of Youth Unity who supports teenagers across east London.

This is a very moving exhibition that highlights the horrors of knife crime and the choices we make and the consequences they provide.

DC Dunic one of yesterday’s tour guides in the Ben Kinsella Room.
Shirley Jackson, Peguy Kato and Quinton Green.
SC Anthony Peltier with Spoken Word Artist Quinton Green.
DC Dunic with Quinton Green.
A Letter written by 16 year old Ben Kinsella to the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown- Ben was killed a few weeks after he wrote this letter.