Thursday November 12, 2015
I am proud that Brent is a truly diverse and tolerant community where the vast majority of people share the same values and respect for one another regardless of age, gender, sexuality, background, race or religion.
We are united by our common goals including wanting a borough which is safe and secure for our loved ones to live and work in and wanting the best start in life for our young people.
But we are not without our challenges and many people will be worried given the two recent murders in the borough. These events are personal tragedies and my thoughts are with the families and friends of the young people who have recently lost their lives.
On Tuesday, I attended a meeting of the Safer Brent Partnership, which is the local body that oversees Brent’s approach to crime and community safety, and the two recent murders and the rise in violent crime London-wide were our top priority. Whilst crime in Brent is falling, rising violent crime across the capital is a worrying trend. The partnership was particularly concerned about the rise in knife crime.
There has been an excellent response from our colleagues in the Police and a broad consensus across all local partners that we all need to do our bit, in spite of the increasing pressures on very limited budgets.
However, the reality is that like the rest of London we do have a problem with a minority of young people who think it is acceptable to resolve their disputes through gangs or violence.
I know the Police are planning to increase their use of targeted stop and search in response to recent events. Weapons concealed in public places are being hunted out. Warrants are being served on addresses where the police have intelligence and this is a proportionate response to the current situation.
The Safer Brent Partnership has a gang strategy which is overseen by the multi agency Borough Gang Delivery Group and there are strong relationships with the National Crime Agency and other local and national agencies who work together to target gang-related offending. We have identified those most serious gang members for inclusion on our Integrated Offender Management programmes which work with offenders. We also work directly with school pupils to address issues around gangs, knife crime, alcohol and drugs, peer pressure and money.
But it is not just up to the Police and local and national agencies to solve these issues. It is a job for all of us! Mums, dads, neighbours, faith and other community leaders need to work together to help prevent these terrible crimes by discussing the causes of violence with young people and tackling it together. There is simply no good reason for young people, or anyone else, to go out armed with knives or other weapons.
Ask yourself, would you know the signs to look out for if your child was involved in gangs? If you are not sure, please take this opportunity to find out more about the signs of gang association at: www.brent.gov.uk/gangs.
In challenging times – and times really are tough for many – we should come together. The right place to start is to talk. To describe our experiences, our concerns and our frustrations, and to shine a light on the range of issues we’re facing. It’s first by listening and by sharing that we find the common ground from which to move forward together.
That’s why councillors and other community leaders will be getting out and about into local communities to talk afresh about these concerns and to examine what more we can do as a united community to tackle the issue of youth violence.
I am calling on everyone in the borough to never forget our shared values. Let us all keep pulling together in the same direction to achieve our common goals and redouble our efforts to work together to make Brent safer.
Cllr Muhammed Butt
Brent Council Leader