Youth crime recurred as an issue throughout the London mayoral campaign, not least because the tally of young people being killed in the capital continued to rise as Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone fought it out on the hustings.

It was also an issue which was never going to provide “quick
wins” for Boris on his election in May.

But today, after spending a few months taking soundings on
the issue, the London Mayor has unveiled an action plan for tackling youth
crime, as featured in this morning’s Sun
and previewed in last Friday’s Evening Standard.

Flanked by Sir Paul Stephenson, the Deputy Commissioner of
the Metropolitan Police, Kit Mathouse, the Deputy Mayor for Policing, and
(Liberal Democrat) James Kempton, London Councils’ Member for Children and
Young People, Boris announced “Time for Action” in the same community hall in Edmonton in which he
officially launched his mayoral campaign back in March.

The plan covers the following five themes:

  1. Giving young offenders in prison for the first time the life tools that will enable careers other than professional criminality.
  2. A more co-ordinated and assertive effort to tackle truancy.
  3. Working towards getting more children in care to go to university (rather than prison).
  4. Promoting self-respect and character in young
    people, with the help of organisations such as the Scouts, Girl Guides
    and Police Cadets.
  5. Encouraging children to be more active on the
    basis that healthy bodies lead to healthy minds, and sport can act as a
    unifying influence.

Twinned with practical measures such as highly visible
policing and operations to target those carrying knives and other weapons, this
marks a concerted effort on Boris’s part to tackle the long term root causes of
youth crime in London.
He said:

“There are no magic
answers to these deep rooted problems and there will no doubt be amendments and
additions to the measures I am proposing today. However I hope ‘Time For
Action’ will be the first step to achieving the fundamental long-term change
that is profoundly needed so that we can take pride in every young person and
ensure they reach their full potential.”

You can read the proposals in full on the GLA website  and a consultation has now opened to which all
interested parties are invited to submit their responses.

Jonathan Isaby

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