MP’s message to government: Act now on youth crime

Image of a knife taken from a 12-year-old boy
Image of a knife taken from a 12-year-old in Brixton in May – Tweeted by Lambeth police chief inspector Roy Smith

Violent crime among young people in and around Brixton is rising alarmingly, local MP Chuka Umunna has warned.

He told the Bugle that in the four weeks to mid-May there had been 11 stabbings in Lambeth. “Since the beginning of the year,” he said, “we have had 114 incidents of serious youth violence in Lambeth – that’s someone being stabbed and potentially losing their life. “Across London there have been over 2,300 such incidents since the beginning of the year.

Chuka_Umunna“This is in line with what was happening last year. There has been no improvement at all.”

Violence returned to Angell Town in Brixton last month when two people were shot.

One comment on the Brixton Blog’s story about that shooting summed up many of the problems and issues:

“When they talk about regenerating Brixton they mean they are segregating low-income families, cutting out youth activities and moving families that have been in the Brixton area for generations for the sake of property prices.

“These kids are out there shooting up the place because they have no support, no confidence or pride within their community. Youth clubs have been cut, playgrounds have been concreted over to make way for posh housing. To survive is a daily struggle these days.

“I beg [prime minister, David] Cameron to come and walk a day in our lives and realise that if you leave these kids with nothing to do, no job and no confidence or motivation to do better, you’re going to get frustrated little heroes trying make it work the best way they know, because they don’t know any other way!”

Chuka Umunna, the MP for Streatham, said the area was witnessing “a huge amount of tragedy, wasted lives and some young people living in a parallel universe from everybody else”.

He called on central government, which has cut back its initiatives on youth violence to “a couple of civil servants and an email in-box” to act before the situation gets out of hand.

He said: “If we were talking about middle class kids who were all attending very smart, nice schools, this would be on the front page of every national paper for a number of weeks.

“Because these are young people from deprived neighbourhoods, people just think ‘Oh well. That’s what you’d expect’.

“I think that’s disgusting.”

Read the full interview