Darren Martin, Vice Chair of the Hackney Liberal Democrats, has welcomed the Mayor of London adopting the Glasgow public health model that his party championed during the Local Elections in the Summer, but insists Hackney can use this as an opportunity to show real leadership in tackling violence.
Sadiq Khan announced last week that London will invest £500,000 in setting up a Violence Reduction Unit based on the success in Glasgow which halved murder rates in the city.
The Unit operates at arms length to police command and brings together researchers, social workers, education professionals, health professionals, police and former gang members that work to back-up targeted policing with mentoring and real support for victims as well individuals who are serious about turning their lives around.
The unit’s approach is based on treating violence primarily as a public health issue.
Hackney Lib Dem Vice Chair, Darren Martin
Commenting on the news, Darren Martin said:
“It’s great that the Mayor of London has listened and decided to introduce a model that has proven results, the Lib Dems were leading calls for this approach to be implemented in Hackney and this will make a real difference to London that has just seen its 100th murder of the year.
But it’s important that Hackney takes the lead on this and that we do not become complacent, expecting the London VRU to do all the work for us.
Mayor Glanville and Cllr Selman were adamant the VRU was nothing new and I hope now they see this as an opportunity to really engage with a policy that they were only dismissive of because it came from us and not Labour.
There is still a lot of work to be done in our borough, I still believe there should be a VRU set up between Hackney and Tower Hamlets that now share a police command, rolling the Integrated Gangs Unit into that program and sharing resources and expertise with our neighbours.
Hackney has some very complicated and unique local issues that are best addressed at local level, and this would be a great chance to work with the new London VRU and show how best to tackle violence in diverse communities.
It is also vital that Hackney Council fund additional community officers, this is something the Lib Dems had in our local election manifesto and something that the new Police Commander for Hackney and Tower Hamlets agrees with us on. Unfortunately Mayor Glanville flatly refused to consider this during the local election campaign.
The London-wide announcement is a step in right direction, but we still do not have all the details of how the new London VRU will function and whether it will have the same freedom as the Glasgow one. I would call on Hackney Council to not play the wait and see game and show real leadership on tackling violence in our borough.”