e met with Detective Superintendent Sean Yates from the Metropolitan Police, head of the Violent Crime Task Force, charged with tackling violent crime across London. We discussed why violent crime is such a problem today, what’s in place to tackle it and looked to the future for solutions to this complex and serious problem, with its devastating impact on young people and families.

Prevalence of knife crime today

The increase and prevalence of knife crime has caused much heartbreak and desperation to the families affected and deep-felt concern to the public, government and police alike. There is no simple explanation for the current high level of violence, in particular, knife crime in our cities. However, there are some clear contributing factors. For many working in this area, one common thread is deprivation, compounded by the austerity measures of the last decade and their impact on policing and intervention services, like the work with troubled families, drug misuse services, and the closure of youth clubs.

Gangs, drugs and vulnerable young people: a toxic mix

In addition to deprivation, much of the current knife crime is linked to gangs and their involvement with the distribution of illegal drugs. It is a toxic mix. Sean explained, “A young person may be vulnerable due to issues at home, like domestic violence, alcohol or drug misuse, and this person is then exploited by predatory gangs.”

Sean went on to describe how young people are at risk of criminal exploitation. “If you are a local criminal network, you target the most vulnerable, whether that’s due to their young age, or those that don’t have support or a strong family network, or those who don’t have long- term goals but are looking at shorter-term gains, like expensive clothes and trainers. Basically, they are happy to exploit young people and the most vulnerable in order to make money or settle turf wars.”

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violent crime today & tomorrow


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