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More than £7million will be spent tackling drugs supply lines that are inextricably linked to violence across the country under fresh proposals announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today.

Despite progress being made, with numbers of homicides, teenage homicides, knife crimes with injury, gun crimes and burglaries in London all lower in 2022 than in 2016, the Mayor is clear that violence is still much too high and the loss of one young life to violence is always one too many. That is why Sadiq has renewed his commitment to tackling one of the major drivers of violence in cities nationwide – the prevalence of criminal drug gangs.

The new fund will see a new intensive and whole system approach to tackling drug misuse, with enhanced links into treatment and recovery services combined with funding to support the Met Commissioner’s drive to use precision and data to ensure targeted police operations against violent drug gangs.

The investment will bring together partners including the police, local councils and health services to improve communication between treatment providers and courts, prisons, and hospitals with the aim of cutting drug-related crime and breaking the cycle of misuse and reoffending.

The fresh approach comes amid rising concern and evidence that criminal gangs in London are exploiting the cost-of-living crisis to recruit young Londoners and expand their county lines networks across the UK.

Every week the Met arrests and charges around 11 suspects linked to drugs lines that run nationally and within London and analysis of the County Line Intelligence Collection Matrix (CLICM) data shows London as the highest exporter area for County Lines in the UK accounting for over 25% of the national total.1

Research by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Met revealed that despite a reduction in homicides last year, gang-related violence still accounts for a significant proportion of the most serious violence in London, with more than half of shootings, and more than 50 per cent of all teenage homicides in London over the past three years linked to gangs.2 

The funding, proposed in the Mayor’s draft budget for 2023/4, will enable the Met to precisely target the most dangerous criminals who cause the greatest harm while doing more to help those recover from drug addictions and misuse.

With millions of Londoners impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and low-income families in the capital being hit hardest as food and energy bills soar, the Mayor is concerned that there is now a real risk of all these factors combining and contributing to the reduction of violent crime being reversed. Sadiq is determined to offer young Londoners at risk of being exploited by criminal gangs a way out.

Targeted support from the Mayor’s London Gang Exit programme is already helping hundreds of young people across all London boroughs leave or reduce their involvement in criminal gangs and City Hall’s Rescue and Response Programme has trained more than 1,000 social workers and other frontline organisations to spot the hidden signs of exploitation in vulnerable young women and girls involved in county lines activity and provide the support they need to escape exploitation.

But more action is needed and the Mayor’s new proposed £7million investment will strengthen the Met’s ability to go after the worst offenders whilst improving pathways into treatment and recovery services to reduce drug-related offending.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “There is an undeniable link between county lines drug gangs and violence and that’s why I’ve proposed additional funding that will enable the Met to accelerate its work targeting the most dangerous criminals while helping to break the cycle of reoffending and safeguarding our most vulnerable young Londoners from exploitation.

“This is not just a London problem. Without in any way excusing criminality, the cost-of-living crisis is engulfing the entire country. Food and energy bills continue to soar. Too many young people are seeing their opportunities diminish. Without strong leadership, action and intervention I’m concerned that we are now at real risk of seeing the reductions of violent crime we’ve achieved in London being reversed and the menace of County Lines gangs growing nationally.

  
“The Met and City Hall’s work to tackle county lines drugs gangs has already resulted in dangerous offenders being arrested and hundreds more vulnerable young Londoners being safeguarded, but we must do more. Violence, like poverty, is not inevitable and this new proposed investment will work to tackle the underlying drivers behind serious violence. This in turn will help us break the cycle of reoffending and build a better, safer London for all.”

Cllr Jas Athwal, London Councils’ Executive member for Community Safety and Violence Against Women and Girls, said: “The toxic impact of violent drug-related crime on London’s communities, and especially our youngest residents, is severe and long-lasting. London boroughs fully support this renewed effort to address this. We will be working alongside the Met Police, Mayor, treatment and recovery services, the voluntary sector and other partners, building on the success of borough work as part of the Rescue and Response Programme.

“Boroughs play a crucial role in safeguarding young people and their families, engaging communities and bringing together housing, employment and recovery support locally in a holistic way, and will continue to work collaboratively with local partners to engage and support young people at risk of exploitation.” 

Is London safe? We think for most people it is still very safe…

About Post Author

D Abel-Smith

Freelance content writer, real-life Londoner. Probably on his Macbook in a south London coffee shop.
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By D Abel-Smith

Freelance content writer, real-life Londoner. Probably on his Macbook in a south London coffee shop.

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