The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick this afternoon met with community members in south London to discuss how police and communities can mobilise to bring about a movement against knife crime and violence.
Representatives from local charities, local action groups, independent advisory groups, and reformed gang members, gathered at the Ashburton Youth Centre in Wandsworth on Thursday, 18 May where they had a frank and honest discussion with the Commissioner about the complex social reasons behind why it has become the ‘norm’ for young people to carry a knife; and how their input and assistance is imperative in reducing offences in the capital.
Wandsworth is a borough that has seen three murders of young men in recent weeks, and, like the rest of London, residents are understandably seriously concerned and keen to work with police to find a collaborative and positive way forward.
The family of murder victim Lewis Elwin were also at the event to meet the Commissioner and provide their support in the fight against knife crime. Their son, 18-year-old Lewis, was stabbed to death in Tooting in April last year. A £20,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest, identification and conviction of those responsible for his death. Lewis’ family have fought tirelessly since his death to raise awareness and bring about a change. Before Lewis’ funeral they staged a peace march through the streets of Tooting, expressing their unity against the issue.
Other recent peace marches in London are an indication that the public are steadfast in their desire to stand together to tackle knife crime and bring about a change in consciousness which will make it unacceptable for young people to carry a knife.
The Commissioner has already indicated that tackling knife crime is at the top of her list of priorities and that her focus during her tenure will be to reduce these violent crimes.
Operation Sceptre – the Met’s response to knife crime through prevention and enforcement – recently ran its eighth phase, resulting in 511 arrests and the recovery of 380 knives. Activity typically includes weapons sweeps, intelligence-led stop and search, and proactive operations to target habitual knife carriers as well as increasing visibility of police officers to reassure local people and deter further violence. Going forward, this operational activity will become ‘business as usual’ – running once a month to ensure momentum and consistency; with a different focus each time.
The Commissioner, said: “Our fight against knife crime is ingrained in our neighbourhood policing and runs through everything we do. From our diversion schemes, and gang enforcement, to our protection of vulnerable people and our partnership with schools. This problem is not about standalone police action and it is clear that people around London realise that.
“Today I have had the privilege of meeting with the family of murder victim Lewis Elwin, and community members from a borough which has recently been deeply affected by knife crime. What we had was a very positive and encouraging conversation about how we can work together. What stood out to me was a shared passion and determination. I feel hopeful this movement against violence will expand and grow to bring about a positive change in mind-sets.”