Big push to beat youth vi­o­lence

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

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

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