Knife crime in London is becoming more deadly and will get worse, a charity has said.
On Thursday, a 14-year-old boy became the city’s 27th victim of teenage killings this year.
The capital is now close to hitting a grim record of teenage homicides in 12 months, after 2008 saw 29 victims lose their lives.
According to the PA news agency, 27 boys have been victims of teenage killings, with 23 of those killed in stabbings.
The CEO of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, Patrick Green, told the PA news agency knife crime “is a problem that has continued” and “in terms of seriousness of the offences, it is getting worse, and statistics show that it is getting more deadly. Younger teenagers are becoming victims”.
In February, the Metropolitan Police warned London could reach record numbers for teenage homicides in 2021 after several boys had already lost their lives to knife crime.
The force’s lead on violent crime, Commander Alex Murray, said at the time: “Part of talking to you today is to say to people: put the knives down, get rid of them—just get rid of them.”
Following the killing of a 14-year-old boy in Croydon on Thursday, the Ben Kinsella Trust has said more needs to be done to protect youngsters.
Green described the boy’s death as “heartbreaking”, and added that the victim is the latest in a line of young teenagers to be killed in a stabbing.
He said: “It defies logic and disbelief that this can be happening to teenagers as young as this. The problem is getting worse, which is very concerning for parents and young people.”
The Trust was founded in 2008 – the same year teenage homicides in London hit a record high—following the death of Ben Kinsella, who was just 16 when he was stabbed to death in Islington.
Green said a “systematic approach” needs to be taken to knife crime and added: “Sometimes crime is simply portrayed as a crime spike and that is something that is best dealt with through criminal justice interventions. We can talk about gangs, and drugs, school exclusions and absent fathers but there is a number of reasons why knife crime may be as high as it is … it can be down to a number of factors, and unless we address those systematically and all of those problems, we are never going to solve this problem.”
Green added that although violence reduction units have been set up across the country, their projects are usually only funded for a year at a time.
“The concept is really good,” he said, “but if you’re hoping to tackle something like this systematically, it needs to be something like a 10-year funding that will be ringfenced. You have to have a sustained approach, and not just a knee-jerk reaction.”
Earlier this year, Hawa Haragakiza, whose 15-year-old son Tamim Ian Habimana was stabbed to death in Woolwich in July, said she will not stop campaigning against knife crime.
She said: “Everyone needs to do more to help. Parents should do more. The police should do more. The Government should do more.
“No parent should be in fear of their kids going out. But it’s not just in London, it’s the whole country. Every parent needs to do what they can to make it stop. But not just parents though—all of us have to come together and do something about it.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he will “continue to be tough on crime and tough on the complex causes of crime”, in response to Thursday’s killing.
He added: “I am heartbroken at the number of teenage homicides in our city and country. Every death as a result of violence is a tragedy and my thoughts are with the families, friends and communities who have lost loved ones.
“I will continue to support the police in bearing down on criminality, providing record funding to put more officers on the streets. But we know we will never be able to arrest our way out of the problem. That’s why we are working to stop violence before it happens by addressing the complex, underlying causes, such as poverty, inequality and a lack of opportunity.”
Khan said London’s Violence Reduction Unit is funded by City Hall and delivers “programmes that are providing young Londoners with positive opportunities, supporting them through education, training and employment.
He added: “We are also working closely with community groups to give them the tools and resources they need to support young Londoners. We know it’s more important than ever that we involve everyone across London—because no single organisation or service will be able to solve this alone.”