London’s deputy mayor for policing, Sophie Linden, visited Brixton police station in January to check on a pioneering project to reduce knife crime.
The project, Divert, works with 18–25-year-olds to support them away from crime into employment, or education.
A member of the Divert team speaks to young people arrested in connection with knife-related crime while they are in custody.
Nick Darvill and Ann-Marie Willison who have run the project since last April said that, with their partner, they have supported over 150 youngsters and found 55 employment in Brixton. “Out of the 55 only two have re-offended”, said Darvill.
Ann-Marie Willison deputy programme manager says the key is having the right people skills and finding the right moment to talk to the young person. “You need to identify their passion and what they want to get into. We can then refer them to the Milestone partner.”
Deputy Mayor Linden paid tribute to the team. “They are trying to make sure where people have been arrested, they can move on and not re-offend. That’s fantastic. What we need to do is replicate that and learn the lessons of what they are doing here.”
She added that politicians needed to “listen to staff and the officers because they are the people doing the job. They have the ideas and know what’s working “
The visit took place during the seventh phase of Operation Sceptre – the Met’s response to habitual knife carriers and associated knife crime which ran from 23-29 January. Police activity included weapon sweeps, and intelligence-led stop and search.
Head of the Met’s Trident Command, Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth said: “Too many lives have been lost to knife crime and too many families devastated by grief”.
“The overwhelming support for this campaign from communities, and our police colleagues is not only welcome, but it reinforces our commitment still further to reduce crime and gang culture and to remove knives from dangerous hands.”