The independent London newspaper

Eviction only used as last resort

13 July, 2018

• THE problems of serious youth violence, including gang-related gun and knife crime, exploitation and “county lines” drug-dealing operations are not simple or straightforward to address.

The different aspects and causes of serious youth violence remain a huge challenge for the council and police. Of course, we are not alone in experiencing these issues, which are sadly prevalent across London.

In response, the council has taken a clear early intervention and prevention approach to help create a safer community for all.

That’s why it was disappointing to read Greg Foxsmith’s inaccurate account of how the council is using a variety of tactics as part of a coordinated strategy to deal with this serious challenge, (Convict the guilty, not evict the innocent, July 6).

While recognising there is much more to do, the significant falls in gun crime and knife crime victims aged under 25 are welcome, as is the fact that fewer young people are entering the criminal justice system than at this point last year.

Some 25 young people left gangs altogether – encouraging signs that those most at risk are instead looking to brighter futures.

This progress, we believe, is in part due to our decision, unlike many councils, to protect our investment in youth services. We opened a youth centre last year, have great schools and kept all libraries, leisure centres, pools and children’s centres open despite the government’s vicious funding cuts. We are committed to making Islington the best place for young people to grow up.

Alongside this, we have invested £2million, over four years, in the early intervention and protection work that the pioneering Integrated Gangs Team and other adolescent-based services do behind the scenes.

Specialist council staff work hand-in-hand with police, probation service, NHS, Jobcentre Plus and voluntary organisations to keep young people on the right path.

Together we identify and work with those at risk of being drawn into gangs and the hardest-to-reach young people entrenched in gangs. They’re often complex cases, but we have the expertise to give them the tools to find and build better, more constructive futures for themselves.

These young people voluntarily work with us, and their families are often grateful for extra support. There are only a handful of young people where this kind of responsible, positive support is not welcomed, where individuals resist the help, and parents are actively co-operat­ing in their children’s offending.

People in the community are understandably fed up with the small minority who ruin their neighbourhood. So, if households choose to refuse all the support we offer, as a last resort, and only where appropriate, we will ask a judge to make an eviction order in certain cases.

This approach has been used on a very limited number of occasions for a number of years, but it is right that this serious deterrent to unacceptable criminality is available to us.

Labour executive member for children, young people and families, Islington Council


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