Poverty to blame for rising crime in London, says mayor

New figures show a link between violence and social inequality in Britain’s capital, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Monday.

Khan blamed poverty as a major cause of crime in a speech to mark a major analysis by City Hall. The study confirms a strong link between serious youth violence and Londoners affected by deprivation, poor mental health and poverty.

New figures show that three-quarters of the boroughs in London with the highest number of violent offences are also in the top 10 most deprived, while the same boroughs also have higher proportions of children under 20 living in poverty than the London average.

The statistics, in a detailed study of the causes of violent crime ever undertaken in London, show that more than a quarter of all young Londoners live in the most deprived areas of the British capital. It also reveals that serious youth violence in the capital started rising in 2012.

Khan said only a long-term public health approach, which tackles the deep-rooted and engrained social and economic problems facing society, and includes strong police enforcement, can truly address the problem of violence crime.

He added that if children are allowed to be brought up in deprived conditions, and if high rates of school exclusions are accepted, and if there is a failure to tackle domestic and sexual violence, crime is quite simply much more likely to flourish. He also linked crime to bad housing with a lack of employment and training opportunities.

He also blamed the national government for decimating public services designed to support those most in need.

The mayor said key areas will be funded by London’s Violence Reduction Unit to help tackle the problem.

It will include expanding after-school provision in high-crime areas, following data showing that violent incidents involving young people aged 10-16 are more likely to happen at the end of the school day.

Extra support will also be offered to young people affected by domestic violence based on figures that 13 percent of serious youth violence victims are victims of domestic violence. Evidence also shows a link between involvement in violence and children witnessing violence in the home.

Ahead of the long summer school vacations starting next week, Khan announced funding for 43 projects that will provide positive opportunities for 3,500 young people at risk of getting involved in crime.

“It’s time to be honest about the scale of the problem and honest about what it will take from all of us to fix this problem for good,” Khan said, adding “the sad reality is the violence we’re seeing on our streets today is an appalling side-effect of increasing inequality and alienation caused by years of government austerity and neglect.”