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Questions over youth service cuts in wake of Camden murders

Sadiq Khan says London needs help from national government

22 February, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Council leader Georgia Gould and MP Keir Starmer join borough commander Nicholas Davies at a meeting in Gospel Oak

POLITICIANS and police chiefs are under pressure to find new ways to halt knife crime in the wake of Tuesday night’s horrific violence.

Only a month ago, Will Lexton Jones, the detective responsible for tackling crime in Camden, told a public meeting that the level of stabbings in the borough had peaked, adding: “We have started to see both the knife violence and knife crime as a whole taper off and reduce.”

Official figures, however, show there has been an 8 per cent rise in knife injuries in Camden this year. Teenagers have this week told the New Journal that carrying a knife is becoming a “norm”. With tensions high, the council and the government have been blamed for cutting youth services, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan is facing pressure to explain how he will intervene.

Sadiq Khan says London needs help from national government

Mr Khan reacted yesterday (Wednesday) by asking to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd. He said the spread of stabbings was a “national problem that requires national solutions”, adding: “Londoners need the government’s help if we are to beat it.”

While different corners of government are being blamed for cuts, stories of how youth services have been axed were already been shared on social media yesterday.

A Kentish Town mothers’ group said it would be coming together in a bid to “stop the cycle of violence” and called for more to be done “to assist this younger generation” in the longer term. One of the organisers, who did not wish to be named at this stage, said: “The government cuts to youth services have been so detrimental to these kids. It’s heartbreaking and the government need to take notice.”

The council made significant reductions in youth services spending in 2011, following the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government’s first “austerity” budget. After the death of Mohamed Aadem last year, the council set up a Youth Safety Taskforce to tackle “long-term causes of youth violence”.

Aydarus Aamed, the uncle of Mohamed and Sadiq Aamed, who was murdered on Tuesday, and whose own son was killed in the street in 2013, was among speakers at its launch. “I hope one day everybody will understand. It’s so easy to say when someone passes away, but deep down inside it is unimaginable how we feel as a family,” he said at the time.

The Town Hall probe aims to understand the “patterns of youth violence” by speaking to young people and also to “assess the provision of youth services” in Camden. It is looking at other initiatives around the country and there is an online survey about “how it feels to be a young person in Camden”.


The taskforce is speaking to victims of violence and bereaved families. At the launch, Councillor Abdul Hai – Town Hall cabinet member for “community cohesion” – said he hoped “to hear from as wide a group of people as possible”.

In a joint statement yesterday, issued alongside police borough commander Nicholas Davies, council leader Georgia Gould and Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer assured residents that the “safety of our communities is our highest priority”.

“We are directing all of our attention and resources to keep you safe,” it said. “Today and over the coming days you will see extra police officers on the ground in the Kentish Town area, providing 24-hour patrols. “Additional police officers will be providing reassurance to the community, schools and youth centres. Camden Council’s community presence officers are also patrolling the area today and this evening.”


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