Croydon council hailed its innovative public health approach to violence reduction, as the answer to stemming the tide of knife crime.
The last four months have seen multiple stabbings and the murders of three young men. In June 2019, the council set up a Violence Reduction Network to work closely with communities to identify those at risk of offending.
Director Rachel Hayward was appointed to spearhead the department but now she has been seconded to head up the investigation to the Regina Road housing scandal.
The community safety plan for 2020-2023 which the council should have consulted on 12 months ago and published in March has expired.
Current council leader, Councillor Hamida Ali, who was cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities which launched the VRU in June 2019, said it would work on building on 31.7 per cent reduction in knife crime with injury, and the 21 per cent reduction in serious youth violence achieved in the borough.
A recent parliamentary briefing paper on knife crime in England and Wales produced figures by borough and showed knife crime had in 2019/20 in Croydon increased by 10 per cent to 555 with 178 sustaining injury.
Cllr Manju Shahul-Hameed, the new cabinet lead for Cllr Ali’s old job heading up the Croydon Safer Partnership refused to reveal details of the latest crime stats at the last council meeting when challenged by Conservative Cllr Richard Chatterjee.
The Partnership recently met and discussed rising crime rates which Cllr Chatterjee as a member was privy to. He revealed increases in drugs offences up by 12.3 per cent violence against person 10.5 pc, public order up 8.5 pc and possession of a weapon 2.5 pc.
He asked: “Do you think those increases are due lack of community safety strategy or the fact no one is in charge of the violence reduction unit?
But Cllr Shahul-Hameed refused to be drawn and instead chastised Cllr Charterjee for revealing the details of the crime statistics which she claimed were ‘sensitive’ and should not be discussed in a public forum especially during purdah (the pre election period).
CEO of youth charity Music Relief Magdalene Adenaike (pictured) has just been elected as the CVA youth and crime representative on the Partnership.
She said: “Communities are the bedrock of any society, and community organisations echo the feelings and the needs of the people within the society. Having a strategy that fails to understand this and does not empower its community through its community champions, the registered voluntary groups is set up for continued systematic failure.
“Even with the lockdown resulting from the global pandemic, we have seen and heard of young people going missing, some due to county lines and others resulting from mental health issues with increased cases due to the lockdown. We have seen in Croydon a bloodbath of stabbings, with some leading to fatal deaths within the last three months of this year alone.
Croydon has the highest child population in London and so it is not surprising that Croydon has high numbers of children becoming known to the Police.
During 2019/20 2641 children were victims of crime which is the highest number in London. Croydon also consistently has the highest number of missing children in London which is perpetuated by having substantial numbers of foster carers with more than 400 children from other London Boroughs placed in Croydon.
She added: “The horrific case of the 15-year young man admitting to sexual assaults and stabbings of his fellow peers aged between 13 and 15 is every parent’s nightmare and a massive community problem.
“The mistrust from the community to the council and the police has deepened even further with the section 114 notice by the council, poor housing and families having to live in inadequate housing, and the case of Sarah Everard that caused a public uproar as a police officer was charged with her murder.”
Croydon noted the highest number of victims under 18 of domestic abuse (249 victims during the period June 2019 to March 2020 ) with the highest number of domestic incidents in London
Magdalene added: “The need for preventative measures is now more apparent than ever; this is not a tick box activity…. “