The UK London Metropolitan Police announced last night what was obvious to everyone else, that the direct result of fewer policemen on the beat has led to more deaths. The only surprise is that knife crime spiked by only 15% last year. This may also be a direct result of switching off lights after midnight to save power. Criminals are at home in darkness.
London has a crisis, although Chief of the Met, Cressida Dick, does not think so. Please stop being discreet. If our children are being killed, it is a crisis. News of 300 police officers on the streets this weekend is a good show of force. We all know that is not sustainable.
The announcement of 120 extra police officers on the problem fills me with no confidence, unless we do a variation on this:
Take the 120 police officers and split them into 10 teams, each with a chain of command. Target the worst affected areas, although any grieving parent will want their areas covered too.
Put at least six people on the beat in an area and make sure that women are also patrolling the streets, to provide confidence and wellbeing to the community.
Top of the chain officers should be seen in the communities to listen to public opinion. Unfortunately, this invariably leads to one grievance superseding all others, for which, the police already know they will be blamed. Still, they should be there to take the flak. When it is impossible to report a crime, except online or on the phone, where we must persuade a bored police officer, we need to see the visible side of policing on the street.
On TV, we also heard from a young man who lives in London, a budding, brilliant MP in my view. He talked about him and his friends patrolling the streets at night to keep everyone safe. Well done, him. Please have a senior police officer talk to him and act on his ideas. However, it is the job of the police force, to keep London safe.
If you just put 120 policemen and women in an office, they will fail. The need is for information and collaboration with communities. Please do not bleat about vigilantes. Why not transform them into Special Constables and see a rise in pride in those young men and consequently in their communities?
There is apparently a high rate of unemployment amongst young males in London. Why not set up a military-run course to give young men pride in themselves? If they are busy doing something worthwhile, that gives them graded certificates, you will be building a competition between young men, instead of rival gangs. Male bonding is so important to young men, who perhaps are unaware of their role in society. My son’s school taught that boys became men at 15, following the hunter-gatherers of ancient times. This is when male bonding needs to flourish. There are Youth Centres in London. Maybe this is where funding is required. Talk to them and make a plan to encourage young people to stay out of gangs. Maybe take a short trip to Colombia, where advertisements about coffee showed that young men in jobs did not join gangs.
If these procedures or similar are followed, the gangs will be forced underground. Fine; block their exits with policemen. For the moment, let every policeman who sits in an office, re-engage with people on the streets. This is our capital city; we want people from overseas to settle here, work hard and be members of our communities.
Stop, search, seize should be done by plainclothes, detective and uniformed officers. It is the only way to reduce crime. Longer-term, you cannot allow arms sales online. Check the local gun shop weekly to check that they are selling to over 18’s with a licence and that the police are aware of these people. Previous convictions means no weapons. Make it harder; you will never stop evil. This is an out-of-control situation that needs to be stamped upon.
So sorry for this crisis, London, yet every parent in the country is with you as you wait for action for every young person.