Frontline workers despair about rising London murder rate
Robert Wright speaks to community workers in Hackney about causes and solutions to the rising murder rate in London.
Filmed and produced by James Sandy
I'm standing on Morning Lane in Hackney. An incident on this street on Wednesday night marked London's 50th violent death this year. That's nearly twice the rate of the previous year. I've come to speak to people who work with the young people who are both victims and perpetrators of this violence to try to find out a bit more about what lies behind this disturbing rise.
Some people have suggested that more rigorous use of stop and search by the police is perhaps part of the solution here. What does that look like to you as somebody who's working here with young people on the ground?
Stop and search, all it does is it just annoys people because, most times, they stop and search the strong person. The people who are carrying knives, never - it's rare that they get caught with a knife. When stop and search was at its highest, knife crime was still on the rise, you know? Although police may have put on more successful arrest rates, I think violent crime has gone up regardless. And nowadays, I don't think they're doing much stop and search. But I think that's also because - it's to do with their cuts that they've received, which I think is very visible.
I think I'm right in saying that you knew the young man who sadly died.
When I heard about the young man who was stabbed last night, it really, really hurt me. I am mourning with the family at the moment. But, you know, his death has kind of created a standpoint to show that it's not only people who are involved in gangs who are being targets and victims. People who are also affiliated with, you know, gang members or people who hang around with gang members, you don't necessarily have to be in a gang to be a target, to be a victim.
Projects like Hackney CVS and Young Hackney, we are trying to get people who are affiliated with gang members or the lifestyle off the streets as well because anyone could be a target.
They're coming from places of hardship, so kids are dealing drugs because parents don't have money. Maybe they can't get jobs. And they feel, you know, making illegal money is going to help them out. Things kind of get worse because they feel that they have to do bad to do good. But it only leads to more bad because when you're in a life of crime, it usually entails a life of violence as well, unfortunately.
What do you think is the ultimate solution to this? And what would you like to see happen that you think will make a real difference to this violence?
OK, so there's a few things like more emphasis on mental health services for kids. So you're seeing kids get stabbed, you're seeing kids get shot, bleed out on the streets. And that can lead to mental health problems. And then, also, we need to have a dialogue with the kids as well.
So while we also talk as the older members of the community about how to solve the problems, we need to talk to the people that are directly suffering from these things. Do you know I mean? Until then, I don't think - we won't be - I don't think we'll solve it.
It goes without saying that every tragedy in London's surge of violence has its own complex individual roots. But there's been a theme running through what we've been hearing from people in Hackney. There's a sense that cuts to police and public services have been having a real impact. And there's a fear that until those vital public services become more effective again, tragedies like the one that unfolded here on Wednesday night will continue to mount up.