According to the Metropolitan Police the number of casualties from youth crime so far this year in the capital is still a major cause for concern:
This year in the capital has seen 15 teenage homicides, 1230 knife crime victims, and 145 gun crime victims (non-fatal).
The concern over youth crime in London led Chuka Umunna MP to hold a debate in the Commons arguing for new measures to be brought in to protect London’s young people.
The debate came in the wake of the recent death of 15 year old Zac Olumegbon who was killed in July close to his school in Umunna’s Streatham constituency.
Speaking in the debate Umunna said:
“We have a problem in London and have had for years. We know it, and our young people certainly know it, because too many of them are living with the fear that it will affect them right now.”
“In fact, only last Friday in the Tulse Hill part of my constituency, one teenager was shot in the face by a gunman on a bike while trying to get on a bus.
“Yes, many of the teenagers affected are involved in gangs, but just because much of what happens is gang-related does not mean that we can wash our hands of it. It is our problem. These are our young people, and this violence is a scar on our community, whatever our background and circumstances.”
Umunna highlighted the need for more training and employment opportunities, better family support, greater police numbers and appropriate sanctions for young people to deal with the problem. He also raised serious questions about future government assistance in the context of severe public spending cuts:
“It is crucial that we have the monies so that we can channel the energy of our youth in a positive direction, away from the activities that lead to violence and, tragically, sometimes to the loss of young lives.”
Responding for the government, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime Reduction, James Brokenshire MP, said:
“There are real challenges here, in terms of the existing financial situation and the funding issues, and obviously the Government’s priority is to ensure that the economy is put on a strong footing. We will, therefore, be looking very closely at these decisions. However, given that the comprehensive spending review has not yet concluded—we will be announcing the details on 20 October—it is not appropriate or helpful for me to speculate.”
By Richard Sudan