Police hold emergency talks over violent crimewave in London

Scotland Yard has held an emergency meeting with community groups and youth workers as the violent crimewave in London threatened to become a political crisis.

Police chiefs want to develop a mobilisation plan to tackle the knife and gun violence in London. This week two teenagers were shot dead and there were a number of stabbings.

The invite to the meeting at the Metropolitan police headquarters at New Scotland Yard on Friday morning said: “London is currently experiencing an exceptionally high level of gun and knife crime.

“There is a high and increasing level of concern in communities about the issue and it is imperative that we listen to and act on those concerns.

“Working with communities, our aim is to identify effective and long-lasting solutions in the short and longer term. It is important that our response is fully informed by community concerns and any community tensions are rapidly identified, heard and responded to.”

The message urging people to attend was from Cdr Mark McEwan, the community engagement and inclusion lead for the Met.

But with growing calls for politicians to set out substantial plans to address the crisis, concerns remained that national and London leaders had fallen short.

The Met police commissioner, Cressida Dick, has been criticised for making no public statement on the subject this week until Thursday, while the Home Office, the Met and the mayor of London all declined interview requests from Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning.

At a protest in Hackney on Thursday night, community activists and residents demanded to know why more was not being done.

Scotland Yard has said it is conducting a total of 55 investigations into murders so far this year. At least 35 of those killed were stabbed. On Thursday, Dick, announced a new 120-strong taskforce to tackle organised crime, apparently in addition to the 80-member Operation Sceptre anti-knife unit launched last May.

Ché Donald, vice-chair of the Police Federation, told the Today programme the current crisis was a direct result of cuts to officer numbers and funding, but also said the police alone could not solve it.

“We also have to think about reductions in funding to councils, and councils themselves were responsible for putting youth workers on the streets, making safe areas for young people to go to. Various charities were involved in engagement with young people and all of that’s gone,” he said.

“There is no outlet, there is no intervention, there is no interaction. What we do not want to turn it into is a police state, but unfortunately we are left with very, very little options and opportunities to address this growing crime.”

On Thursday night, residents and community groups gathered in near Hackney Central station, east London, close to where Israel Ogunsola, 18, was stabbed to death on Wednesday, to call for an end to the violence.

The protest organisers, Guiding A New Generation (an apparent backronym for Gang), asked residents to share their stories and plead for an end to the killings over a communal megaphone.

Pauline Pearce, a community activist and Hackney mayoral candidate for the Liberal Democrats, told the rally that the recent string of stabbings and shootings were partly a result of young people feeling “disenfranchised” by their environments.

“A lot of the children feel disenfranchised; they don’t feel they belong, they haven’t really got a meaning,” she said. “They don’t feel that they have that connection to society, so a lot of things go wrong for them and sadly this is the sort of retaliation that comes.”

Six people, five of them teenagers, were admitted to hospital five separate knife attacks in London on Thursday. The youngest, a 13-year-old boy, sustained serious wounds after being stabbed in east London.

Three youths have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm in connection with that attack, Newham police said.

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