Hello, my name is Ibrahim Dogus and I am a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth.
I want to talk to you today about the terrible scourge of knife crime which is blighting our city.
It seems like every week there is a new fatality – often a young person, with everything to live for, taken from us by someone wielding a knife.
These murders devastate families and our communities. People are grieving and people are angry.
We want to see an end to knife crime.
Some 285 people were killed by a knife or sharp instrument in 2017/18 – the highest number since records began.
And it is London, sadly, that has captured the greatest share of the headlines, with 14,769 crimes involving knives recorded here in 2017/18.
All too often it is young people who are the victims, and young people who feel most at risk.
A generation of Londoners is growing up in this wonderful city fearful about their streets and neighbourhoods, scared of random violence, concerned about gangs.
No young person should have to live in fear.
What are the causes of knife crime? Of course, it is complex. People can point to poverty, drugs, gang culture, and a lack of education and life opportunities.
Those committing the crimes bear responsibility and must be caught and punished through the courts. I also want to see restorative justice – so that the perpetrators of such crimes have to confront the consequences by facing the people whose lives they’ve ruined.
But what is also clear, however, is that crime – and especially violent crime – rises when police numbers fall.
Look at the number of officers has tumbled since 2010. The total size of police forces fell by 20,000 in England and Wales in the eight years to last March.
It’s obvious to everyone we need more police on the streets.
At the same time, youth services – which used to provide a safe and fun place for children after school, at weekends and over the summer – have been cut. It is no surprise that more people are coming to harm on streets across the country.
I would like to see more investment into youth services, our schools and more support provided to parents who are struggling to provide a stable home for their children,
I want more after-school activities, sports clubs, music clubs and to encourage local businesses to provide more internships and apprenticeships and local charities to provide more voluntarily activities.
More police. More opportunities for young people. That’s the answer.
Teachers, police, parents, community leaders and councillors like me can all play a part in tackling knife crime.
We can end it – so let’s do it together.