London has recorded its worst annual death toll from teenage homicides, with a total of 30 boys and young men killed in 2021.
On December 30, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death in a Croydon park, while another 16-year-old was stabbed to death in Hillingdon. These were the 29th and 30th teen homicides in the British capital in 2021, surpassing the previous peak of 29 in 2008.
Most of those who died were victims of knife crime, and many were killed by other teens or by young adults in their early 20s. The youngest victim was 14 years old.
The Metropolitan Police say homicide rates last year were the same as the year before, but activists say efforts to tackle knife crime have been inadequate and it was now so prevalent that it was normalizing.
The latest stabbings have sparked renewed debate about the possible causes of youth violence, with experts suggesting these include an increase in the number of vulnerable children, increased pressure on services such as the police and social media fueling the conflict.
Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust, an anti-knife crime charity that was established in 2008 after the fatal stabbing of the 16-year-old in north London, told Euronews there were “three essential reasons why that ‘We are seeing an increase in stab crime, especially among young people and, in particular, murders among young people in London.’
“The problem itself has never been adequately addressed for the last 10 years. This is a social problem. It is not an increase in crime. It is something that we have seen steadily for the last decade and more. And it has not been. . addressed correctly, “Green said.
“The long-term measures that are needed to address the key drivers in knife crime simply have not been adequately addressed.”
According to Green, the austerity policies put in place by the UK government over the last decade were also “a big mistake” that helped fuel the conflict.
In England and Wales, 23,500 police personnel jobs have been lost since 2010, according to figures from GMB, the police personnel union.
The figures include more than 7,000 cuts to Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) roles.
“We lost more than 20,000 police officers nationwide. And we saw a reduction in youth services. They both play an important role in fighting knife crime,” Green illustrated.
“But youth workers do an essential job of engaging young people and putting them on the right path, introducing them to positive mentors, positive adults who can shape their lives for the future and give them a strong counter-narrative to the misguided impression that a Many young people argue that a knife can protect them, it does not protect them, it simply puts them in greater danger, “he added.
The issue of knife crime is a frequently highlighted issue in the UK in recent years, with many experts pointing to social media as one of the culprits in the tragic killings.
“One thing is surprisingly obvious: Many of these incidents start with frivolous discussions between young people about something and an orphan problem of feeling disrespected. Once they hit social media, they escalate and explode at a phenomenal rate and lead to some of these. tragic incidents, “Green explained.
According to him, social media companies have been slow to address the problem and do more to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime.
“They really need to step up. Frankly, they shouldn’t just sit on their hands doing nothing. They should join us here.”
Watch the full interview with Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust, in the video player above.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism