CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Labour has ‘no tangible policy’ to tackle knife crime, conference warned

'Why aren't we talking about it? I've realised, we have no tangible policy to refer to'

23 September, 2019 — By Richard Osley in Brighton

Elaine Donnellon on the stage at the conference centre in Brighton

A LABOUR delegate from Camden has warned the party that it has “no tangible policy” on stopping youth violence and knife crime during a passionate speech on the conference stage.

Elaine Donnellon, representing the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, was speaking in the main hall here in Brighton following a series of murders and serious assaults in north London.

She warned: “We have a public health crisis in this country: young people, headline after headline, teenager charged with murder, teenager charged with murder. I’m asking conference to get a grip of it.”

She told members: “We must get on this as a policy, please. We have nothing in the manifesto that refers to it. We need a tangible, comprehensive Labour policy on tackling serious violence. I get frustrated. I’m a Labour member, and I’m thinking: It’s got everything you want. It’s got poverty, inequality. It’s got death, it’s got murder. Why aren’t we talking about it? I’ve realised, we have no tangible policy to refer to.”

WATCH: Elaine Donnellon’s full speech

Camden saw three murders in a space of five days earlier this month – two stabbings and a shooting – and has since seen a series of knife attacks included an attack on a 16-year-old on the Rowley Way Estate over the weekend.

Ms Donnellon, appearing for the first time as a delegate to conference, said: “Children involved in a knife, gun, weapon violence. This is not normal, we can’t accept this as normal… How does it happen? The indicators are here, we have the evidence: Domestic abuse, adverse childhood experiences, substance abuse, poverty, abject poverty, low aspiration, low opportunity, marginalised, deprived countries. Children of migrants, refugees, making up the highest groups of victims in London.”

Ms Donnellon helped form the campaign group Operation Shutdown in response to a series of knife deaths across London, demanding the government and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan ramps the issue up the agenda and calling for more help for bereaved families. She said she would now also set up a group of Labour members who wanted the party to come up with new policies.

“There is injustice for the families,” she told the conference hall. “They can’t move house. They are often persecuted by the person who took their child’s life. Tormented. They can’t move. Why? Because we sold our council housing. Why? Because there is nowhere for them to move to.”

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