Evening Standard comment: Greater urgency needed to tackle knife crime

EVENING STANDARD COMMENT

Yesterday a grim statistic ticked up. In nine days seven people have been violently killed in the capital. The latest fatality was a boy of 17, stabbed to death by a gang of thugs in front of a KFC in Edgware Road, at lunchtime.

Knife crime is on the increase everywhere in Britain but Londoners are still by far the most likely to be stabbed. Youngsters are particularly at risk.

Much of the violence between gangs in London is fuelled by the illegal drugs market, where teenagers are recruited by the criminal gangs that run it.

Disaffection, a lack of opportunity for young people and a constrained police force unable to intervene compound the problem.

Evidence tells us a combined approach works best, something the Evening Standard has long called for: knife crime must be treated as a public-health crisis as well as a criminal one.

The police must work alongside schools, employers and social services to protect these vulnerable young people.

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The Mayor has now decided to pursue this strategy: the right choice, but we need to see some results.

Various schemes have been trialled. But it is going to take more than anti-knife crime messages written on the inside lids of fried chicken boxes, a recent drive by the Government that was quickly dropped.

Freed of the political restraints that were put on them over stop and search, the police are showing greater willingness to confront the problem. But these changes must come faster.

Young lives are at stake.


Momentum’s advance

It was the activist group Momentum that hatched Labour’s current leader but since then it has been busy eating away at the party beneath him.

First it infiltrated local branches: Momentum now dominates in many.

With this power, combined with changes in party rules, it gained opportunities to deselect MPs with whom it disagreed.

Labour’s new rules now mean a selection contest can be triggered if a third of local Labour branches vote in favour.

Diana Johnson, the Remainer MP for Hull North — no Corbynite — was the first to face a so-called “trigger ballot” and found herself deselected.

Momentum has now reached the next stage of its metamorphosis.

The group’s national co-ordinator, Laura Parker, announced today that she will stand in Enfield as the capital’s first Momentum MP.

The position became vacant after MP Joan Ryan, an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn, quit following a co-ordinated attack by her constituency party, which accused her of making false accusations of anti-Semitism and stirring up media hate towards the Labour leader.

All this is bad news for Labour.

After the months of desperate infighting that characterised Mr Corbyn’s early premiership, Labour’s leader has finally managed to achieve a measure of unity, at least on Brexit votes.

This is a delicate and crucial point: as the country draws closer to an election, this is no time for the Opposition to step up its civil war.


London is buzzing

London has a new hobby: bees.

Beehives now dot the city’s rooftops and gardens, as city-dwellers and commercial kitchens. The number of registered beehives has reached 5,500 — up from around 1,700 in 2008 — and Londoners are busily joining their local beekeepers’ associations.

Waiting lists to join are longer than ever.

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This is all to the good. Research over the past few years has shown just how vital these insects are to local eco-systems: there has been serious concern about bee extinction and the devastating effect this may have on Britain’s wildlife.

That beekeeping has become a trend in the capital is a credit to the Londoners who — alongside a desire for free honey — care about environmental issues.

The city buzzes with wildlife of all kinds: there’s no sting in this tale.

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Read more Moment 17-year-old knifed to death in front of horrified KFC diners