On Thursday, the body of 19-year-old Tyler Donnelly was found in Hanworth Park. Our whole community has been shocked and devastated by this terrible incident – the tragedy of another young life lost to knife crime, and another family inconsolable at the loss of a loved one.  

There is no doubt that we need urgent action to keep our young people safe, and a proper plan to support young people and their families so that more is done to divert young people from risk and the possibility of being groomed into a life of crime. 

This is why investment in our young people, in youth centres and facilities, and in our policing really matters. 

New analysis from City Hall shows that core funding from the government for policing in London has reduced by a third in real terms since 2010. This is equivalent to more than £1bn worth of cuts. As well as underfunding the police, the Government has made massive cuts to youth services since 2010, which I continue to believe has had a devastating impact. 

That’s why I am glad that last week, Labour announced plans to take back our streets and halve incidents of knife crime within a decade.  

In government, Labour will introduce a new Young Futures programme, including a national network of Young Futures hubs to bring local services together, deliver support for teenagers at risk of being drawn into crime or facing mental health challenges. Labour will also recruit youth workers in A&E units, custody centres, and communities, as well as mentors in pupil referral units to target young people who are starting to be drawn into violence. 

Crime prevention work has been heavily downgraded over the last 13 years, with Home Office leadership on prevention abandoned and partnerships undermined. There has been no serious cross-government effort to prevent young people being drawn into crime, or learn from where prevention is having an impact. As a result, the level of serious youth violence has remained stubbornly high, with total knife crime rising by 70% since 2015. Knife crime had been falling in London, but in the last year is up 24% in Hounslow. 

Labour will implement a total crackdown on the availability of knives on Britain’s streets, a matter raised with me by residents over the last few days again. We will also want to see a toughening up the government’s proposed ban on zombie-style knives to include a wider range of weapons. Labour will also establish criminal sanctions for tech executives who fail to prevent their online marketplaces from being used to enable illegal knife sales. 

Labour’s plans were welcomed by leading national youth charities including the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Onside, YMCA England and Wales, Scouts and Girlguiding, who said “As leaders of youth organisations, we see the damage that violence and inequality does to communities. We also see how the right support, in the right places, at the right times, can give young people hope and prevent violence before it occurs. Youth work plays a vital role in supporting young people’s development, providing safe spaces, support to develop essential skills and a sense of belonging and purpose. That is why we are calling for targeted support for the most marginalised and at-risk young people.” 

Later this month I will be holding a knife crime and ASB summit in Hanworth. I’m determined that things change, and I know so many of our residents and community groups are too. We cannot let Tyler’s life be in vain, and it is the responsibility of Government to provide resources to local communities to support young people at risk, and see our streets become safe again for all. 

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