I regularly went past the flowers & candles that lie at the place Ahmed Meker was fatally stabbed in Paddington Green. May he rest in peace, his family get justice & let’s see no more of these horrific events in the neighbourhood.
So in this respect it is worth looking at what is happening in the City of Westminster, the home borough of Ahmed Meker, his cousin and others like Abdul Samad stabbed fatally in recent years.
In Westminster there have been 23 homicides since January 2016 and 4 in 2020. This number is far too high and there is a lot of work to be done to reduce the number of murders each year both in Westminster and across London. Each one of these is a tragedy and is devastating for the family and loved ones of those who have been killed
We can, however, reassure residents that the met do solve the vast majority of homicides that take place. The proportion of these horrific crime the Met “solves” is much higher than other forms of crime, at an average of around 90%. This is confirmed with the successful convictions of Abdul Samad and Ahmed’s cousin attackers.
Londonwide, during Covid, crime has fallen generally by 36%, with homicides remaining high – 149 in 2019 and 126 in 2020. There has also been a 20% reduction in knife crime with injury offences from 2017-2020 (from 4,855 in the year to January 18, to 3,888 in the year to February 2020) so some progress is being made through targeted work by the Mayor and the Met.
Mayoral action to tackle crime
Unfortunately, violent crime is still not being treated as a priority by this Government. We need more resources allocated to the Met Police and this has not been forthcoming from the Home Office. The Mayor has introduced 1,300 extra officers for the Met through Mayoral funding to help plug this gap, but the Government must play it’s part in funding 6,000 additional police officers that London needs.
This isn’t just about police numbers, however. Cuts to education services, cuts to youth services and local authorities and a lack of mental health services have all played a part. Given the scale of these Tory cuts to policing, and also to preventive services, it’s hardly surprising that crime has risen not just in London but nationally over the past few years.
Despite this, the Mayor has made some progress due to sustained record levels of investment in our Police force from City Hall as well as targeted preventative programmes. Gun crime offences are down, as are moped-enabled crimes, burglary, lethal barrelled gun charges, and, as mentioned, knife crime with injuries involving people under 25 years of age.
In spite of the impact of Tory cuts to the police, I believe we are beginning to move in the right direction under the Mayors guidance, but we are far from complacent and will not waver from efforts to make our city safer.
Mayors projects for young people in Westminster
In the face of significant reductions to activities for children and young people due to Tory cuts over the last 10 years, the Mayor has stepped in with a £70million pound “Young Londoners Fund” to provide positive recreational activities for young people and a diversion away from crime. This is a key part of the Mayors strategy to reduce the violence.
Within Westminster itself, there are a number of “young Londoners” projects funded by the Mayor. Details of some of the activities funded by the Mayor are below, if you would like full details on what’s available in the local area, don’t hesitate to get in touch:
Harrow club W10 – There is Another Way – will engage with young people, aged 14-21, who are at a high risk of, or currently are, involved in criminality and high-risk behaviour. Using a detached youth-work model whereby youth-workers and trained community volunteers will engage with young people on the streets late at night and bring them back to W10 Youth Centre for free food and fun and interesting/developmental activities. From these sessions the young people will be paired with mentors who will support them into a variety of services and activities offering support such as therapy and work focused training.
Cardinal Hume Centre Westminster – “Future pathways” project An integrated advice, family support and activity programmes to households in Westminster with children aged 10-14 who are at risk of criminal activity due to adverse childhood incidents, multiple disadvantage and other risk factors. The project will offer comprehensive single-site support to families to promote intergenerational communication through shared experiences, address critical housing and income risks, and provide whole-family learning in areas of science and technology to improve relationships and increase resilience for 10-14 year olds.
The Avenues Youth Project Westminster – The Avenues recruit young people, age 15-18, who are at high risk of involvement in criminality, but who otherwise show potential for community leadership roles. Our in-house 39-week youth work programme will provide them with rigorous training, work-based practice and new skills, and accredited qualifications. After 19 weeks of training, they will progress into paid roles as Junior Support Workers where, for five hours a week, their learning will continue. The course will culminate in them conceiving and delivering a social action project. After ‘graduating’, Avenues will support them into education, training or employment pathways.