London charity welcomes funding increase for Met Police but highlights need to address causes of crime

The charity Fighting Knife Crime London has acknowledged the importance of the increase in funding for the Metropolitan Police announced on December 16, but highlights that more long-term thinking is required to tackle crime in London.

The Metropolitan Police will receive a £164.2m funding increase as part of the government’s 2022/2023 funding package.

This comes as part of a wider funding boost for policing announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel of up to £1.1 billion, a 7% increase on last year.

Founder of Fighting Knife Crime London, Bruce Houlder, said: “While an increase in the budget for the Met is clearly necessary and welcome, there should be far greater consideration given to other priorities which impact on the deployment of police.

“One example is that there should be a much stronger focus on developing employability programmes to support those furthest from the job market into sustainable and quality jobs.”

He added that, as recently highlighted by social charity Catch22, social deprivation is a substantial contributing factor behind challenges faced by the police.

Houlder said: “The need for increased levels of policing can also be seen as a measure of our failure to show respect to the lives of so many who are avoidably drawn into the criminal justice system, and with a little more imagination all that could be avoided.”

“The messaging on law and order has been wrong for some time now. We hear far too much about criminals, and far too little about the responsibility we all have to prevent young people finding themselves marked with that label.”

The funding package for policing will help support the government’s Beating Crime Plan, which seeks to create safer streets and a more secure country.

In particular, the plan focuses on driving down homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime.

The additional funding continues on from work previously being done that has resulted in a 14% fall in overall crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse) between June 2019 and 2021 and the hiring of 11,053 additional officers across England and Wales.

Police and Crime Minister Kit Malthouse said: “Police officers in London are doing great work pursuing drug gangs, protecting vulnerable people from harm and tackling neighbourhood crimes such as theft.

“Police forces in London have already benefitted from extra officers being out on the streets after more than 11,000 have been hired to forces across England and Wales over the last two years, helping to drive crime down.

“This increase in funding will see even more officers hired to tackle crime, continue to remove weapons from our streets and support communities to feel safer.”

An article by Ian Hamilton in The Independent highlighted the need to address the long-term rise in the use of weapons by young people especially, following the death of 14-year-old Ava White.

Whilst almost all reported crimes saw a decline from April 2020 – March 2021 in comparison to April 2019 – March 2020, the exception came in threats to kill involving a knife, which rose by 8% from 4630 to 4984 recorded incidents.

As the government implements policies to improve safety across London and the UK as a whole, Houlder called for a greater voice to be given to community groups.

“Communities and social reformers can help design the answer, and they need to be consulted far more, and their ideas matched with sound long-term investment. 

“Charities like these, with long experience, have an enormous amount to offer in moulding a political change of direction, and they need to be heard.”

Photo credit: Metropolitan Police

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