Politicians are set to meet next week to discuss how best to tackle the alarming rise in knife crime across the borough.
This week, figures from the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime revealed Southwark as the second highest borough in the capital for knife crime, with 805 incidents taking place in the last twelve months. Brent has the highest, with 814 incidents.
In the last week alone, the News has reported on seventeen year old Katrina Makunova, who was stabbed to death in Camberwell, two stabbings that took place streets apart in one day in Peckham, and a family in East Dulwich held at knifepoint by armed robbers who ransacked their home while children slept upstairs.
The News has also recently reported on residents marching in Rotherhithe to “reclaim” the area after a mother was stabbed during a knifepoint robbery while walking with her children through a popular woodland, and self-defence classes launched to help people in the community to protect themselves.
Knife crime figures soar across the country
The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show knife crime has risen by sixteen per cent in one year in England and Wales.
The number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded by police in the year to March 2018 jumped to 40,147.
There was also a twelve per cent rise in the number of homicides recorded by police, excluding the London and Manchester terror attacks, and a two per cent rise in police-recorded gun crime. The number of robberies soared 30 per cent, the figures show.
Liberal Democrats call for more police officers in southwark
Southwark Liberal Democrats will be pushing for the council to pay for the hire of extra police officers through the Mayor’s Met Patrol Plus scheme, which offers matched funding, to tackle the issue at a full council meeting on Wednesday, July 25.
The opposition party is calling for a dedicated violent crime unit to be set up under the authority of the Borough Commander to reduce and pro-actively tackle knife crime in the borough.
The council already currently funds a joint enforcement team through the Met Patrol Plus scheme which involves six police officers working alongside council enforcement officers with a particular focus on the night-time economy.
Councillor David Noakes, acting leader of Southwark Liberal Democrats, said: “As someone who has lived in Southwark for over 20 years, works in community safety and has been a victim of knife crime in this borough, I know the current rise in violent crime is at the top of residents’ concerns.
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“With young people losing their lives or being left with life-changing injuries, and many other young people and older residents too scared to walk the streets, this is a problem we have to solve together.”
‘I was the victim of an attempted knife-point robbery’
The Borough and Bankside ward councillor was himself the victim of an attempted knife-point robbery in Bermondsey four and a half years ago.
“I was walking down Tower Bridge Road just after midnight – I wasn’t on my phone and although I’d been drinking I definitely wasn’t swaying or anything like that – and I noticed this guy coming out of a side road in my direction,” he told the News.
“Within a few seconds he was right up against me with a knife in his hand telling me to give him my phone.
“For whatever reason I just decided to run and tried to leg it across the traffic to get away from him, but to my surprise he ran after me and I heard him say ‘do you want to get stabbed’ so I stopped.
“I said he could have my phone and took a few steps backwards near a bus stop where people were waiting and they were by now looking at him, so he decided to leg it.
“I didn’t get hurt and I didn’t get stabbed but I’m very conscious of the consequences of getting stabbed and it has definitely made me more cautious and aware.”
Council is already discussing police resources with borough commander
Councillor Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety and public health, said the council was discussing police resources with the borough commander.
“We recognise the extremely worrying rise in knife crime in the borough and agree that there is more the council can do to support the police and tackle this issue,” she said.
“The council is already making use of the Met Patrol Plus scheme that allows us to pay for additional police resources from the Metropolitan Police Service with the support of the local borough commander.
“There are currently three schemes operating in the borough, two of which include the local authority working with partner organisations.
“There is also a scheme in development through a successful bid submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for a rough sleeping Initiative.
“Through the Met Patrol Plus scheme, the council currently funds a joint enforcement team focusing on the night time economy.
“This agreement includes six police officers working alongside council enforcement officers providing a hands-on response in delivering shared safety priorities.
“There are a number of local authorities and partner organisations including Tower Hamlets who are using the Met Patrol Plus scheme to fund additional uniformed officers.
“These schemes are still in their early days and the success of these arrangements is still to be determined.
“We are currently discussing police resources with the borough commander, along with reviewing the benefits and impact of our local schemes and other options for purchasing officers.”