This item will be a discussion between members and officers around the partnership response to the fatal incident in North End Ward.
Claire Rai, Head of Community Safety introduced the item and provided a brief background of the Council’s strategy for youth violence within the borough. She showed slides that provided an overview of The Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation (EGVE) strategy which also included the Council’s partnership response to EGVE. This delivered an effective, coordinated response, that focused around six key strategic priorities. In addition, this was reviewed annually to monitor progress.
The serious youth violence & knife crime action plan (2018-19) was achieved through a partnership approach and was available on the Council’s website. The Council was also working closely with the police to support the prevention of knife crime. The Police Specialist Gang Units for Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham had merged to one Integrated Gangs Unit (IGU). Three Police Constables worked within the Youth Offending Team and engaged with young people at the risk of, or already within, the criminal justice system.
It was noted that funding had been secured for the recruitment of a Serious Youth Violence Coordinator. This role would be responsible for coordinating and monitoring delivery of the Councils Knife Crime Action Plan. Furthermore, a Gangs Co-ordinator and Parenting Worker would also be appointed to work with families to build emotional resilience and support family members.
The Council provided funding to St Giles Trust to deliver outreach work across the borough. Preventative work was carried out with young people at risk of gang involvement. The Council also funded Street Doctors to deliver first aid training and to carry out knife crime awareness work with young people in schools and colleges across the borough.
Claire Rai commented that a ‘One Life, No Knife’ Community Event would be organised in Summer 2019. The event would be aimed at identifying ways the community could collectively tackle knife crime.
Inspector Jim Cook, Metropolitan Police explained that two fatal stabbings took place on Lanfrey Place and Gowan Avenue in March 2019. A male was identified via the Council’s CCTV network and was charged with murder in relation to one of these incidents. Inspector Jim Cook praised the Council’s CCTV network, adding that this had played a vital role in identifying the perpetrator.
Councillor David Morton said that he had received feedback from residents, relating to a suspected increase in drug related activities within groups of young males in Avonmore and Brook Green Ward. He asked how the three funded police officers were allocated and whether they were ward specific. In response Claire Rai explained that they worked in partnership with the Youth Offending Team to identify and engage with young people most at risk within the borough. In addition, the Council was planning to recruit specialist officers to improve its engagement process with the community and support the development of the knife crime action plan. Upon receiving intelligence, a locality action plan was put together and partnership working with the police was carried out to ensure that this was delivered.
Councillor David Morton commented that it had also been brought to his attention that anti-social behaviour, involving young people was taking place at a local Tesco.
Inspector Jim Cook commented that that the police relied on intelligence to respond to crime along with a strong partnership approach and thanked Councillor David Morton for the information shared. He requested that these details be forwarded to the Community Safety Team to ensure this was picked up by relevant officers.
Councillor Ann Rosenberg asked how Officers measured success across the borough. In response Inspector Jim Cook explained that raw data was collated by the Police and these figures could be provided to the Committee. In addition, Claire Rai commented that data was often reviewed to establish how many times young people re-offended. In addition, Officers regularly monitored what measures were in place to ensure young people were kept out of prison. A wide range of services were involved in supporting youth violence, therefore success was managed in many ways across the borough.
Inspector Jim Cook explained that police officers were placed in schools within the borough to help support young people with issues relating to crime and youth violence. The police worked in collaboration with council officers to determine ways to engage with young people and support them in sharing important information with professionals. Furthermore, it was noted that the police also had a duty to safeguard any young person that provided intelligence to a professional.
Councillor Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader commented that she had volunteered with the Youth Offending Services for several years and expressed great passion for this area. She noted that knife crime was a persistent and worrying concern and felt that the nature around knife carrying had drastically changed amongst young people. However, the safety of young people remained a priority to the Council and the aim was to deliver this through a partnership working approach. Furthermore, the Council was reviewing the work that was being carried out in this area to mitigate risks and ensure that early prevention strategies were in place. This was a complex area to tackle; therefore, a Police Commission was launched to explore the root causes of crime and ant-social behaviour alongside residents. The recommendations provided by the commission would be taken into consideration during the review process.
Furthermore, Councillor Sue Fennimore noted that the Council’s CCTV network was a key factor in bringing victims to justice adding that it also played a critical role in preventing crime.
The Chair asked whether there were any trends or patterns around knife related crime, particularly amongst younger people. In response Inspector Jim Cook said that there was a cohort that carried weapons in the borough, however the last stabbing involved a 27-year-old individual. Weapon carrying was a huge concern across the board.
Inspector Jim Cook explained that Operation Sceptre was launched in 2015 with the aim of reducing knife crime and the number of families affected by knife crime across London. Operation Sceptre targeted not only those who carried and used knives, but also the supply, access, and importation of weapons.
A knife search was also carried out in West London College. Metropolitan Police had also introduced patrols and targeted stop and searches took place in areas that were most affected with knife crime. Tackling knife crime was a priority for the Metropolitan Police and appropriate measures were being put into place to tackle this issue.
The Chair asked how knives were accessed by young people. Inspector Jim Cook said most of the knives that were recovered were kitchen knives. Zombie knives could also be purchased online.
Councillor David Morton said that over the last 10 years there had been a greater turner over in staff within the safer neighbourhood’s team. He felt that the lack of continuity had an influence on local knowledge and asked whether there were any plans to monitor this going forward. Inspector Jim Cook acknowledged the concerns raised and explained that most people moved on for development purposes, however were replaced by experienced Officers who had extensive knowledge around crime.
Councillor Sue Fennimore said that going forward it would be good practice to review the hand over process, suggesting that it would prove useful to introduce new officers to Ward Councillors to ensure that a better outcome was achieved.
Councillor Iain Cassidy asked how clustered was knife crime in London. Inspector Jim cook explained that the victim or suspects were often known to the police and the Council, therefore this wasn’t always a surprise. There was a small cohort in the borough who were likely to be either the victim or the perpetrator
The Chair commented that she was pleased to hear about the work that was being carried out in partnership with schools and asked how improvements could be made around community engagement in the borough. Claire Rai noted an event around knife crime would take place to encourage community engagement. In addition, Councillor Sue Fennimore said that she was in discussions with Councillor Larry Culhane, Cabinet for Children and Education to complete a piece of work exploring the link between young people’s involvement in crime after exclusion.
The Chair asked what strategies were currently in place to connect with parents of young people. In response Claire Rai explained that the Council had secured funding for two new posts to work directly with families and offer support and guidance.
Inspector Jim Cook praised the Council for the great work that was being achieved via a partnership approach to tackle knife crime in the borough.
The Chair thanked everyone for the contributions made at the meeting and was pleased to hear about all the work that was being carried out by Council Officers in partnership with the Police. She asked that this be revisited at a later stage, noting that a longer-term approach needed to be determined to prevent crime going forward.