Met Police urged to emulate Glasgow in reducing knife crime deaths

Police at the scene in Link Street, Hackney, east London after a man in his 20s died after being stabbed. Pic: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Police at the scene in Link Street, Hackney, east London after a man in his 20s died after being stabbed. Pic: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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Police in London have been urged to adopt a Scottish knife crime strategy amid a rising tide of violence.

Israel Ogunsola, 18, became the latest person to die in the English capital after being found with knife wounds on Wednesday evening in Hackney.

The teenager’s death brings the total number of people killed in London so far this year to more than 50.

Labour’s Diane Abbott, a Hackney MP and former shadow home secretary, called on London to follow the example of Glasgow, where the pioneering work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has been credited with helping to dramatically reduce the number of murders.

Formed by Strathclyde Police in 2005, the VRU adopted a public health approach to violence and knife crime, treating it like a disease to be cured with education, health and social work interventions.

The number of homicides in Glasgow has fallen by 60 per cent over the past ten years.

Speaking after the death of Mr Ogunsola, Ms Abbott said: “It’s really tragic, it’s really horrible and mothers all over the capital must be thinking, ‘I can say goodbye to my son this morning but will he come back tonight?’

“Whether their son will turn out to be a victim or a perpetrator, it’s traumatising for ­families.”

Citing the example of Glasgow, she said: “They have brought the number of deaths from knife crime down to zero last year.”

Asked about Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick’s recent comments about social media fuelling knife crime, Ms Abbot said: “I think social media is a symptom not a cause.”

She added: “I think we have to look at the cuts in youth services, the cuts in policing and the fact that many young people leaving school don’t have jobs to go to for the real underlying causes.”

Ms Dick visited Scotland in February to see first hand the work of Police Scotland and the VRU in tackling violent crime.

Stabbings in England and Wales are at their highest levels since 2010-11 and the escalating violence has been especially acute in London, with 13 people killed within two weeks last month.

On Tuesday, Amaan Shakoor, 16, became the youngest murder victim in London so far this year after he was fatally shot on Monday in Walthamstow.

His death came on the same night as that of Tanesha Melbourne, 17. She was shot around 30 minutes earlier, just three miles away in Tottenham.

Scotland Yard is currently investigating 55 suspected murders since the start of 2018.

Neighbours yesterday described Mr Ogunsola as a “popular kid” and said he had been due start an IT course at university in September.

Two 17-year-olds have been arrested on suspicion of ­murder.

Chief Superintendent Sue Williams said: “In Hackney we are working hard to prevent further violence and keep ­people safe.

“We have extra officers on the streets, both highly visible and in plain clothes, carrying out a range of intelligence-led operations and patrols.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan criticised the UK government for cuts to the policing budget in England, which he said had been reduced by £700 million in the past seven years.