The independent London newspaper

Underlying causes of knife crimes are not addressed

22 March, 2018

Sophie Linden, the Mayor’s deputy for policing and crime

THERE are a couple of points on knife crime in the capital missed by the London Mayor’s deputy, Sophie Linden.

She still believes London is a “safe city”.

It is – if you are not black.

If Sophie Linden were to have serious heart to heart discussions with black parents she would soon uncover the heavy fear that hangs over many of them – fearful for the safety of their children.

This has been growing over the years. And it has become decidedly worse in the past few years.

There have been long-term causes eating away at the fabric of race relations but these have been exacerbated by the present atmosphere – largely generated by the Referendum – which has brought race relations to a new low.

There is little in Sophie Linden’s remarks to the New Journal that points to the social causes of knife crime.

These can be traced back to the problems of education that engulf young and poor blacks in particular. The statistics of exclusion from school of mainly black boys and girls, leading to drifting and a sense of hopelessness, are appalling. They have been with us since the 1960s.

Once, young rejected children, too difficult for teachers to handle, used to be put away in “sin bins”. Now, they are described as “referral units”. Essentially, they are the same. The schools have given up on them. Abandoned, they drift into petty crime which today usually involves drug dealing.

The fault admittedly doesn’t lie with the teachers or the police.

It comes down to politics – and politicians usually dodge the question.

Understandably, they find it easier, for example, to debate the tightening of more rules and regulations governing the carrying of knives– all of which are necessary, of course – than to examine the root causes that lie in the impoverished lifestyles of what is an under-class.

Of course, there is no panacea. Crime, in one form or another, will continue to stain society.

But the creation of productive forms of employ­ment, the encouragement of apprenticeships, the provision of more youth facilities, all this will turn the page.

But this takes political vision – a vision, sadly, beyond most of today’s politicians.

The protest march due to take place today (Thursday) is to be applauded. Let us hope ordinary people will loosen the reins from the politicians – and start taking the first constructive steps themselves towards the real changes that need to be made.

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