Calls for ‘government action’ after spate of stabbings

A collection of knives seized by the Metropolitan Police
A collection of knives seized by the Metropolitan Police

Pleas made following latest violence in which five people were seriously hurt, reports James Cracknell

People in Edmonton have called for urgent government action to help prevent crime in their “neglected” neighbourhood – following a series of stabbings that left locals terrified.

Some residents were afraid to leave their homes during a week of violence in April when five people were stabbed, seemingly at random, in a series of attacks. A 29-year-old man was charged with five counts of attempted murder and a court later heard that one of the stabbing victims had been left paralysed.

The attacks led Edmonton MP Kate Osamor to describe the situation as “extremely alarming”. She said: “My thoughts are with the victims of these attacks and their families and friends. The shock and worry families are going through must be appalling. I wish for the very best for the victims and hope they are able to recover from this terrible trauma.”

Edmonton Green resident Sophie, who runs a social media account promoting the area, said the attacks had shaken the community. She told the Dispatch: “It suddenly hit home for the first time – I found myself thinking ‘that could have been me, my family or friends’ – and I was devastated for the people who were injured.

“There was a real tense, terrified atmosphere across the neighbourhood for several days which was not something I’ve experienced before. What I find most upsetting is the general dismissive response to these attacks as ‘normal for Edmonton’.

“It may have a reputation, but people living here are just like anywhere else; normal, hard-working people and families. It’s not normal for us to go about our daily lives in fear of knife attacks and violence.”

There have again been calls for additional funding for local police and better co-ordination between various organisations working to tackle crime – but people in Edmonton seem to agree that government help is needed.

Edmonton Green councillor Tolga Aramaz, writing about knife crime in this month’s Dispatch, said: “I saw many of my friends joining gangs while growing up. Knife crime must be treated as a serious public health issue by the government, as only they have the means of tackling this problem. Yet, they are turning a ‘blind eye’ to what is going on.”

Kate Osamor previously echoed this call for government action. Following a spate of stabbings and shootings in November that left seven people seriously injured, she said: “This violence must stop. Our communities cannot bear the fear, worry and devastation violence leaves. The lives of families, friends and loved ones of young people caught up in violence are being torn apart.

“This government must bear the responsibility for austerity and the devastating cuts it has inflicted on policing, local government and youth services. You can’t keep the public safe on the cheap.”

Enfield Council is also urging the government to do more, passing a motion in January condemning cuts to policing. Earlier the same month the Dispatch revealed that the borough’s violent crime rate has doubled in just seven years.

Nneka Keazor, the council’s cabinet member for community safety, wrote in a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid: “They [police] do an incredible job under very difficult circumstances, but there simply aren’t enough officers to go round and crime in our borough is at unacceptable levels.

“The Home Affairs Select Committee has been clear that policing urgently needs extra funding. Enfield Council believes it is incumbent on the government to significantly increase investment so that the police service is properly resourced, fit for purpose, and able to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

In March the government pledged to spend an extra £100million this year to tackle violent crime – of which £17m is being allocated to London. The Home Secretary said: “Law enforcement plays a key role – and it is clear from speaking to police leaders that they need an immediate increase in resources. I’ve listened to their concerns and this £100m will allow them to swiftly crack-down on knife crime on the areas of the country where it is most rife.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan last year established a violence reduction unit for the capital. He separately called for school ‘off-rolling’ to be outlawed to help prevent serious youth violence. Government figures show exclusions of pupils have increased by 56% over three years, with research also revealing that nine out of ten children in custody have been excluded from school.