A new target for zero murders in London

I’m setting a target for zero murders in London within ten years if I’m elected in May.

Everyone affected by murder and violent crime deserves justice, but it would be far better to have prevented the violence in the first place. 

The longest jail sentence in the world won’t bring back a single person we’ve lost to murder. It’s time for a new start which could save hundreds of lives.

In 2019-20, there were 148 murders recorded by the Metropolitan Police in London, which gives London the worst homicide rate for any region in England and Wales. The number of violent crimes in London has also increased every single year since 2012-13, standing at over 222,000 crimes recorded in 2019-20.

We can take a public health approach to eliminating murder and reducing violent crime in the capital, where preventive action will get a higher priority, and won’t be neglected. My focus will go on providing funding and resources through a more active Violence Reduction Unit, including youth services, women’s services and wider support for a strong, healthy society.

A 2012 report by the Department of Health outlined the principle of treating violence as a public health issue, and argued that through such an approach “violence can be prevented.” I cited this report in my 2017 response to the current Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan, calling for restoration of funding to youth services along with fully funding the implementation of the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy.

I have successfully campaigned on increasing funding to youth services as an Assembly Member, and I continue to work to highlight the cuts to these vital services. Greens will reverse these cuts and expand funding. 

I have also campaigned against measures which seek to prevent crime through the inappropriate use of fear and deterrence, challenging Cressida Dick directly on the practice of showing photographs of knives to children of primary school age.

By taking a public health approach to violence in London, I will pursue a target of hitting zero murders within ten years. 

Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. We know what will work, so let’s get on with it. I’ll fund the schemes which create an environment where violence simply cannot thrive, I’ll divert people away from violence before it happens and I’ll protect potential victims, rather than sending in the police once the damage is done.

To drive the murder rate down to zero within ten years, our manifesto promises: 

  • A Green Mayor will set a city-wide goal to aim for zero murders within ten years in our city, along with dramatically reduced violent crime, and will work through a comprehensive public health approach to achieve this. 
  • At the beginning of Mayor’s Question Time, a Green Mayor will publicly acknowledge all of the known murder victims in London since the last session, alongside acknowledging those killed on our roads. 
  • Greens have been pushing for a public health approach to preventing crime from the start, and we are pleased the current Mayor has set up and funded a new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to work on reducing the deep causes and adverse childhood experiences that underlie increases in violence, learning from examples in other cities. However, the VRU is not independent of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, so a Green Mayor will correct this and make sure the VRU has complete independence and more funding to carry out its work, hold the Mayor to account, and recommend changes to policing.
  • Eliminating murders and violence to meet our ambitions also must mean focusing on education and community-level work to reach potential perpetrators and encourage them to seek help, creating more opportunities for community and personal conversations about difficult issues such as domestic violence, poverty, prejudice, relationships, masculinity, and morality and ethics. And being honest about the limitations of measures that primarily focus on deterrence and fear.
  • Sian Berry’s campaign since 2016 to expose cuts to youth services and win new funding through the Young Londoners Fund (YLF) has been successful, but the funding so far does not replace all the cuts that have been made under austerity. As Mayor she will expand the YLF further, and do much more to lobby government to reverse council cuts to budgets. Youth work in London needs to be provided at gold standard levels, accessible to every young person not just those facing difficulties – our young people deserve nothing less. 
  • Within police budgets, a Green Mayor will find new funding to expand diversion and early interventions. This will include making support from the current Divert programme available to every young person aged 18-25 who comes into police custody, (and similarly for ENGAGE programme for under 18s) and expanding the number of youth workers available in hospital A&E and their ability to support young people for longer and refer them  to appropriate services and support. 
  • A Green Mayor will never give up on pushing the Government to make youth services a statutory service and to fund councils to provide a comprehensive programme of youth centres and youth workers. 
  • We will identify every possible way to support youth services and support for young Londoners to thrive through GLA budgets. Our Assembly Members will continue to listen to young people and gather data on the impact of cuts on their lives.  
  • A Green Mayor will change the approach to witness and victim interviews, embedding psychologists and trauma experts to allow people to give their account in a trauma-informed setting. This extends the Forensic Interviewing Psychology (FIP) service currently offered to children who experience sexual violence. This approach is particularly important for anyone who has experienced violent crimes, has a mental health condition and/or uses drugs.
  • Police training and support will be expanded to make sure officers and victim support services refer trauma victims to the right support services as a continuation of their duty of care to victims. This could include young people that witness violent attacks being referred to counselling services.
  • Police need to adopt a trauma informed approach throughout their work on violence. It is clear from activities exposed by Green Assembly Members, such as showing pictures of large knives on social media and in presentations to primary age children, as well as tactics like bringing in a task force to do mass stop and search after violent incidents, that a focus on the trauma faced by communities and the need for community support are not embedded in police practices and training. We will put in place a new programme to support community-led and sensitive trauma-informed support in local areas affected by violence.
  • A Green Mayor will ensure that initiatives through the London Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Consortium are fully funded to meet the needs of survivors of violence and those facing domestic violence or harm. These include advice and counselling, work to end harmful practices including female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and integrated support for young women and girls.
  • Specialist support services for different communities are vital in making sure women feel confident in receiving appropriate and understanding support when they need help, and we will defend and promote these services across London, particularly in the face of austerity and any future potential cuts by councils. 
  • We will also dedicate new resources to support Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) within A&E and primary care, and find new housing funding to improve options for move-on accommodation for women leaving refuges.
  • And we will redouble efforts, led by the Assembly since 2018, to introduce a national register of domestic abusers to help women identify and avoid risks from violent partners. 
  • Sexual violence cases have more than doubled in recent years but rates of detection and sanctions against perpetrators have fallen. On the Assembly, Greens have explored problems within police teams facing huge workloads and inadequate resources, the lack of contact time with Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs), and challenges due to the volume and intrusiveness of digital evidence required from victims (‘digital strip searches’). It is clear that not only more resources, but new ways of working are needed across the board in sexual violence cases.  A Green Mayor will institute an urgent victim-led review of sexual violence in London working from first principles and leading to new resources, improved police and support practices, calls for changes in the law and any other measures needed. The Victim’s Commissioner would take the lead on this work.