London Assembly members have welcomed calls by Mayor Sadiq Khan for greater government funding of youth services to help divert young Londoners away from gangs and knife crime.
Speaking as he visited a youth project in Brixton, Mr Khan urged ministers to support his efforts to reduce knife crime by ensuring the capital’s teens have access to youth centres.
Over the past six years central government funding for youth services has been cut by almost £400m. Mr Khan’s office has suggested this is linked to a rise in knife crime which in London grew by five per cent between 2014-15 and by 11 per cent in 2016.
During his visit, Mr Khan launched a Knife Crime Strategy which includes an extra £625,000 of funding for knife and gang crime projects and an offer of metal detectors for schools in high knife crime areas.
The Mayor said: “My new strategy brings together many organisations, groups, communities and individuals and their expertise and passion to help solve this problem.
“This cannot, and must not, be left just to the police to tackle – only by all agencies across London working together can we root out the scourge of knife crime.
“Young Londoners have lost tens of millions of pounds in funding for youth services since 2011 and this simply has to stop.
“The only way we can truly beat the scourge of knife crime on our streets is by properly funding youth services – the Government needs to step up, reverse these cuts and help provide the services we need to tackle knife crime.”
Mr Khan’s calls for more government funding have been welcomed by Labour and Green members of the London Assembly.
Green AM Sian Berry commented: “Massive cuts to youth services have contributed to the rise in knife violence by stripping our young people of opportunities and safe places to simply hang out with their friends.
“Government cuts have hit all London councils hard, and youth services have been put on the chopping block across our city – next year a further £7.5 million will be lost across London.”
Labour’s Policing Spokesperson, Unmesh Desai AM, said: “I have been appalled by the increase in knife crime in recent years. We’ve seen families and local communities suffer unimaginable turmoil. We have long needed real action to rid our city of these destructive crimes.
“It’s going to take every section of the community, including families, schools, and the police, coming together to tackle knife crime.
“This strategy seeks to equip communities to do just that, but any action from the Mayor must be matched with increased funding from government, particularly for youth services.”