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  1. ITV Report

'Drastic action needed over violent crime', London's mayor Sadiq Khan told

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been warned he must take "further and drastic action" over violent crime.

Members of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee expressed concern about the lack of detail around Mr Khan's plans for a Violence Reduction Unit.

The scheme aims to use the public health approach to crime, successfully used in Scotland, where police, housing, health and care workers join together.

But in a letter to the mayor, committee members said:

We are concerned that the narrative around the VRU may give some Londoners the impression that it is set up and taking action, when in fact it is very much in the early stages of development.

– Committee members' letter

They claim the VRU's funding from surplus business rates is "far from sufficient to resource the unit over the long term", and called for a move away from the focus on young people, knife crime and gangs.

Members want the unit to tackle a broad range of violence and the particular issue of adverse childhood experiences.

There is evidence that exposure to domestic violence as a child and being excluded from school can in the worst cases lead teenagers to kill.

Londoners are heartbroken to hear about the near-daily carnage on our streets, the young lives lost and the misery for families and communities.

The mayor's new Violence Reduction Unit will need to demonstrate that it brings something different to the table. It cannot simply be a rebranding exercise of existing programmes and policies.

We cannot emphasise enough how critical it is that the unit tackles the traumatic situations that children might live through in order to break the cycle of violence.

We do not underestimate the challenge ahead but it's time for the mayor to take even further and drastic action because London is crying out for change.

– Steve O'Connell, Committee chairman

In a letter to Mr Khan committee members called for the VRU to:

  • Tackle all kinds of violence including domestic
  • Focus on prevention, especially adverse childhood experiences like domestic violence or abuse
  • Focus on school exclusions
  • Call on social media companies to take down all content that explicitly calls for the use of violence
  • Use a similar approach to the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said:

The Mayor is expanding City Hall's long-term public health approach to tackling the root causes of all forms of violence by setting up a Violence Reduction Unit in London.

He is leading from the front by working in partnership with the police, the health service, local authorities, community groups and youth services because it is clear there is no one single solution to tackling this complex issue. We are working hard to challenge the perception it is safe to carry a knife and the VRU will seek to better understand where to make positive early interventions because we know some offenders have themselves been victims or witnesses of violent crime in childhood.

– Mayor of London spokesman