Big push to beat youth violence
LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced £13 million of funding to tackle serious youth violence in the capital.
It comes after a weekend of violent attacks in London, which saw four men stabbed in Enfield.
Mr Khan announced the funding at Spotlight, in Poplar, a youth centre which provides music, dance, art and theatre programmes, one of 72 projects due to receive funding.
He said: “Young people, rather than having constructive things to do, are joining criminal gangs and think it’s okay to pick up knives.”
Money for this round of funding, which will reach 42,000 young Londoners, comes in part from the sale of three water cannons bought by the previous Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
The crowd control machines, bought and refurbished for more than £320,000, have been sold as scrap metal for just £11,025.
Khan said: “It beggars belief that the previous Mayor spent so much money on these water cannons without first receiving permission.
“Rather than him investing in youth facilities and policing, it was a vanity project where taxpayers’ money was wasted, and what we’ve been able to do today is use the proceeds of the sale to invest in young people.”
Asked about the spate of violent attacks across the capital this weekend, Mr Khan said: “My message to Londoners is to help the police carry out their investigations.
“I’ve met too many victims of violent crime, too many bereaved families, it’s really important that we help the police when they carry out investigations.
“Why? Because a successful investigation leads to a dangerous criminal who thinks it’s okay to carry a knife being arrested, charged and prosecuted and taken off our streets.”
When visiting the Spotlight centre, Mr Khan watched performances from young Londoners, offering feedback to aspiring singers and rappers.
Isaac Abuwa, from-south east London, said the visit from the Mayor was important for people who attend the centre.
The 16-year-old, who raps under the stage name XI, said: “You see a lot of stabbings now, a lot of gangs, a lot of drug violence.
“My music is trying to help the young people, trying to put them out of a place – a form of escapism.
“He said my music was good and I really appreciated that, coming from the mayor himself, I really liked that.”
Mr Khan also put on headphones and watched how the sound engineers work with young people in the recording studio.
Aaron Williams, a creative youth worker at Spotlight, said: “To have the mayor here was amazing and I think, more than anything, him giving feedback to the young people is going to give them that extra bit of encouragement.
“I’m finding, through my youth work, that a lot of the young people that are perpetrators of these violent acts don’t have much to do.
“They’re stuck at home, bored, or out on the street, bored, and they’re just getting up to mischief.
“More than anything we want to give them something to do that they can look at and take away and be proud of and create something from their own imagination.”
Forensics investigators at the scene where a 17-year-old was stabbed and died outside Clapham South station on November 2