The Metropolitan Police are appealing to London’s communities to help stop violence taking more young lives this summer amid a spike in teen homicide.
There have been 17 teenage murder victims this year, 12 of which were black and 15 of which were killed with a knife, and over the summer months there is an increased risk of violence.
The Met’s crime data shows this rise in youth violence contrasts to other serious violence offences and the overall murder rate, which have declined during the past year.
If London continues to see this level of violence among teenagers, 2021 could become the worst year for young homicides since 2008.
South West London BCU launched anti-violence initiatives last month but this city-wide appeal encompasses all 12 basic command units, with specific plans to prevent violence and engage with communities.
Two mothers who lost children to youth violence contributed their experience to the Metropolitan Police appeal.
Yvonne Lawson MBE said: “We may have had a brief respite from knife crime over the lockdown period, but recent activity since easing restrictions has been distressing indeed.
“It has been 11 years since I sadly lost my son Godwin to knife crime as he tried to stop a fight between friends. 11 years on, mothers are still losing their babies to knife crime in our capital.
“We should never get desensitised or complacent to youth violence. My dream 11 years ago was to prevent another mother from reliving my pain!
“We need to all come together and fight this epidemic as we are fighting Covid-19. The police alone don’t have the cure, we urgently all need to work together, report what you know about violence and free young people from this terrible cycle.”
Pastor Lorraine Jones added: “As a mother who has lost her son through the senseless killings caused by youth violence, I plead with all communities, families, local authorities, social services, schools and faith groups to step up and engage more with our troubled youth before it results in violence.
“The police cannot solve this problem alone. The next child could be yours or someone you know. The wall of silence can only be broken by us.
“If it was not for the support of the police I would truly be lost and so many other parents who have lost their children feel the same. Let us all step up and work together as a matter of urgency.”
The Metropolitan lead for violence, Commander Alex Murray said: “We understand that some people may not trust police so we are working hard to build those relationships and show that we are only motivated by preventing violence. It is our number one priority.
“We are devoting huge resources into doing everything within our power to minimise violence – It is our priority and can affect anyone from any background.
“But we simply cannot do this alone: everyone has a role to play. Community leaders, businesses, politicians, youth workers, parents and teachers – quite literally anybody and everybody. If you have networks that can help, please use them to get the message from these mothers across.”
In this appeal, the Met will also work in schools and carry out various operations to tackle gun, knife and gang crime.
This appeal comes as two teenagers across the capital lost their lives to stabbing attacks from other young people in Streatham and Hayes within a 24-hour period, and videos of a group of young people attacking someone with machetes in Hyde Park went viral in a week of violence at the beginning of June.
And this problem transcends London with figures from anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust showing there were 275 police-recorded murders involving a knife or sharp instrument between April 2019 and March 2020 in England, 23 of which were children aged 17 or younger.
Police charged four teenagers, all between the ages of 17 and 19, with murder after the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old Denardo Samuels-Brooks in Streatham on 10 June.
Lambeth Council has promised a range of initiatives to combat youth violence with a summer programme of support, activities and on street prevention work to help keep young people in the borough safe as Covid-19 restrictions ease and the warmer weather begins.
The council also launched Lambeth Made Safer For Young People at the start of the year, which aims to make Lambeth one of the safest places in London for children, teenagers and young adults by 2030.
It will also fund local organisations in vulnerable areas to work with young people to prevent violence, provide support for the communities affected by violence and collaborate with the police to target those exploiting our young people.
Lambeth Council’s Deputy Leader Jacqui Dyer added: “The council is taking a long-term, public health approach to addressing violence experienced in our communities.
“The challenges ahead remain very real, but Lambeth Council is determined to work with its communities and its partners on activities and interventions that make a real difference to our young people’s lives both in the short, medium and long-term.”
The council sent around a letter to residents in the community and put out a safety message on their website and Twitter after the violent incident.
If you have any information about youth crime, you can give information anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers.
Photo credits: Metropolitan Police