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It takes a community to tackle violent crime

Catherine West MP

Violence on our streets impacts on the whole community.  A family contacted me recently whose 4-year-old child had to witness the horrific aftermath of a stabbing near his home and all too often people tell me they’re nervous to go out after dark even in their own neighbourhoods.  

It shouldn’t have to be like this and it’s no surprise that community groups are stepping forward to say enough is enough.  I recently attended a meeting organised by Stop Knife Crime in Muswell Hill, a community-led effort to find grassroots solutions to rising levels of crime in the neighbourhood.  One of the points that came up time and again was around communication of initiatives already in place and effective joint working across the Police, council, voluntary groups, schools and the community.  It’s an important point as it’s true to say Haringey Council are already doing lots proactively and, despite nearly a decade of cuts, they’re investing in youth services.  Working together with London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, last year they were awarded £1.5milllion for a Community Gold programme to try and prevent young people getting caught up in crime by re-introducing detached youth workers in the borough.  

But it’s impossible to take what’s happening here in Muswell Hill out of the bigger picture of rising violent crime and falling police numbers nationwide.  Bobbies on the beat do matter but the Community Police Officers who provide such crucial reassurance and local knowledge are being taken off their beats – no longer ring fenced to this essential role.  In Hornsey Ward I’ve been told that there is essentially no local police presence at all at present and no likelihood of this changing in the near future.  It’s something I’ve written to the Home Secretary about and I’ve urged her to let me know how many of the supposed new officers will be coming to Haringey and what is being done to ensure Community Police Officers are present and patrolling in the areas they serve.  

At the community meeting there was also strong support for early intervention work – a point I have repeatedly made in Parliament.  I’d like to see a special fund for children at risk of school exclusion as a high percentage of perpetrators were excluded from school in their early teens.  It’s something I met with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about and I will continue to make the case at every opportunity.  

In the meantime, I’ve met with London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing Sophie Linden along with David Lammy MP and Haringey Council’s communities lead Cllr Mark Blake and been in discussions with Haringey’s Borough Commander about the establishment of a Youth Safety Taskforce to address some of the problems our community is seeing including youth violence and a lack of trust in the police.  It’s an idea we’ve seen work well in Camden and I’m keen to do anything I can to support.

It takes a community to tackle violent crime and it is inspiring to see Muswell Hill residents’ take that lead.  Search “Stop knife crime in Muswell Hill” to find their group on facebook and get involved.  

Catherine West

T: 020 7219 6141

W: www.catherinewest.org.uk 

About Catherine West (25 Articles)
Labour Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green | Shadow Foreign Minister | Mum of two |