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Tackling violent crime in Brent

Two men were stabbed in Wembley last night. Our thoughts are with the victims, who are recovering in hospital, and we are assisting the police to understand what happened.

Like most of us, I am appalled by the violent crime epidemic sweeping the country.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 100 people have been murdered on the streets of the UK - with nearly half of those being stabbings.

Each death is a huge waste of a life. It's a brother or sister who won't come home, a parent who won't be able to raise their kids, a bright future taken away. Each life taken leaves huge gaps, ripples of grief that spread as the family and loved ones try to pick up the pieces.

Two of the murders this year, the death of Jodie Chesney in east London and Yousef Makki in Greater Manchester, sparked a national debate on knife crime. While some say the reduction in police numbers has no bearing on the level of knife crime on the streets, I'm not convinced.

As the money central Government gives councils continues to be cut, the safety net gets even more stretched. Young people are more vulnerable to getting caught up in the 'county lines' drug trade. Every time a recreational drug user smokes a spliff or does a line of coke they should seriously consider that their pleasure could be threatening the life of a young person from a much less privileged background.

In Brent, we are not immune to this national situation. Last night, passers-by witnessed a double stabbing on Empire Way, while two men were recently charged with the murder of Florin Pitic's who was attacked at Queensbury Tube Station in early March. But I'd like to reassure everyone that we are working extremely hard to minimise incidents like this.

We are working in partnership with the Police to divert criminals from re-offending. We are out and about on the streets coordinating interventions and activities to support not just known offenders, but also those at risk of being exploited or drawn into a life of crime.

We recently compared monthly knife crime offences in Brent between August and December 2018 with the same months in 2017. The drop is around 29%. Brent has also seen a large fall in knife injuries in young people - the second biggest in London. This is down to some great preventative work and shows good progress, but we must continue on this trajectory.

That is why we work closely with families like the Serunkuma-Barnes' and the Hansons' - who both tragically lost their sons in unprovoked violent attacks - to explore more ways we can tackle violent crime together as a community.

While I welcome the recent police funding announcement, I know that enforcement alone isn't going to solve this problem. We need to look at the whole package and that means more prevention - not less. We need the resources to enable us to work more closely with teachers, social workers, parents and young people themselves to prevent the bloodshed on our streets before it happens rather than just locking people up afterwards.

Violent crime affects us all, be it directly or indirectly. The sooner we realise this and see it as a problem that we all need to try and prevent together - rather than just an enforcement issue - the better it will be for the people who are dying on our streets.

Cllr Tom Miller
Lead Member for Community Safety, Brent Council

Written by Cllr Tom Miller

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