In an effort to curb a dramatic increase in crime, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to adopt Glasgow’s highly successful strategies to decrease gang-related knife and gun crime.
London’s crime wave has been well-documented over recent months. In June 2018, the city surpassed New York in the number of murders. By September, the homicide figure had reached 100. Tragically, many of the murder victims have been young people, who were either swept up in gang-related activities or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
London’s story is all too familiar to Glaswegians, whose city developed a similar reputation as a knife crime hotspot in the 1990s. However, Glasgow experienced a sharp decline in gang-related violence throughout the last decade, thanks to the work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).
The VRU takes a novel approach to crime, treating it as a public health issue rather than a legal one. It works with social work teams, schools and the police to identify gang members and those at risk of offending, and offers them a genuine alternative to the gang lifestyle, with training opportunities and new housing made available to help them. As a result, between 2011 and 2016, no young person was killed with a knife in Glasgow.
Now, Sadiq Khan has announced plans to set up his own VRU, to break up London’s gangs, and offer disadvantaged young people in the city a meaningful alternative to crime.
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