London mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a violence reduction unit amid attempts to follow Glasgow’s lead in reducing knife crime on the streets of the English capital.
An initial £500,000 has been set aside for the creation of the unit, which aims to follow the pioneering work in Scotland’s largest city treating violence as a public health issue.
Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit, which was launched in 2005, has been credited with helping to reduce the number of homicides in Glasgow by 60 per cent over the past decade,
The mayor’s office said the new unit would help improve coordination between the Metropolitan Police, local authorities, health service and City Hall.
It follows research into how Glasgow’s approach could be “scaled up” to meet the demands of a city with a population close to nine million.
A total of 80 people were stabbed to death in London last year, a quarter of them in their teens.
Mr Khan said: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex, involving deep-seated societal problems like poverty, social alienation, mental ill-health and a lack of opportunity.
He added: “We have listened and researched the public health approaches in cities like Glasgow, where their own long-term approach over more than a decade has delivered large
reductions in violence. City Hall have spent time properly learning the lessons from Glasgow and developing plans to scale their approach up to meet the different needs and challenges
we face in London.”
Niven Rennie, director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said: “The SVRU started by treating violence as a disease which was infecting our communities. From teachers and social
workers, to doctors and dentists, police and government we have all worked together to make Scotland safer. The job isn’t done and every single life lost is a tragedy, but we have come a
long way from the days when the World Health Organisation branded Scotland the most violent country in the developed world.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It’s very positive news that London is to have its own Violence Reduction Unit, based on the Scottish model and the public health approach that has helped us to make significant reductions in violent crime.
“Of course, the job is not done in Scotland and we can still learn lessons from other areas, so we will follow the progress in London with interest. I wish all those involved the very best of luck with this new initiative."