CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Rich cocaine users are fuelling street crime’

Islington MP warns that ‘smart, wealthy people’ are part of knife violence problem

13 April, 2018 — By William McLennan

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott chat to a youth project worker

JEREMY Corbyn has said that “smart, wealthy people” who take cocaine recreationally must face up to the fact they are helping to fuel a rise in knife violence.

Speaking to the Tribune following a discussion on ways to reduce the shocking level of street stabbings, the Islington North MP said: “Very smart, wealthy people taking cocaine in a private luxury flat somewhere feel oblivious to what’s going on around them, whereas in reality they are part of the problem.”

Police and politicians have said that rising street violence across London is linked to the illegal drug market.

Asked if he felt the legalisation or decriminalisation of some drugs could play a part in ending the violence, he said: “We support medicinal use of cannabis, which would change things a bit.”

On a visit to neighbouring Kentish Town, where two of the latest knife victims had grown up, the Labour Party leader said: “We have to address this as a very serious issue, and that means stopping austerity cuts to police services as well as properly funding our youth services”. He was joined by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who said: “I’m very clear that in the end the solution lies in listening to and working with communi­ties and making resources available, both to police and to local authorities.”

Jhon Berhane, 18, and Dillon Zambon, 20, were convicted of murder last month for their part in the killing of a young father. Nashon Esbrand, 27, was chased by a group of young men on pushbikes and knifed to death in Mitchison Road, off Essex Road, in August last year.

Mr Corbyn said that youth violence “can’t go on”, adding: “There isn’t one simple solution. There’s a whole range of issues that have got to be addressed. School funding, youth funding, community centres, community funding, police and community support officers and, crucially, the criminal justice system, which is a major motor in rising crime, because you’ve got very high re-offending rates.”

The number of stab victims aged 25 and under, a key marker used to track youth violence, fell to 79 in Islington last year, down from 90 in 2016 and 81 in 2015.

The borough’s Integrated Gangs Unit, a partnership between council and police, is credited with making progress to lower levels of violence on the streets. There were 15 stab victims across Camden and Islington last month, 10 of whom were aged under 25 and four under 18.

Mr Corbyn said that, while Islington Council had managed to maintain funding for youth services in the face of swingeing cuts from government, other local authorities had “closed their youth service altogether”. He said: “I want to see a statutory requirement of local authorities to provide a youth service.”

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