Recently there has been a lot of focus on stabbings and shootings in London, not least in the press. It has been reported that the murder rate in London is higher than New York (and while this may have been true for that month it was not true for the previous year taken as a whole). The fact that New York has three times as many murders as London does not make our situation any less palatable. This is a serious situation which needs addressing.Last Friday I took part in the Premier Christian Radio ‘Your News’ programme which takes a look at their website’s top five stories in the past week. [This was broadcast on Saturday 7th April. If you missed it you can listen to the recording: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Your-News/Episodes/Your-News129 Note that the programme starts 5 minutes into the recording.]
One of the top stories was about the murders in London where a pastor (Revd Nims Obunge) has called for the community to police itself; a rather different call than that from most asking for more police. In one of the visits organised by the London Slavery Hearings we went to High Cross Church in Tottenham – close to Revd Nims’ church. While at High Cross we heard of the work that was done by Revd Francis Ackroyd and his wife Sandra following on from the Broadwater Farm riots in the 80s. Francis, who retired from the URC about ten years ago, worked alongside Revd Nims, who is also the chief executive of the Peace Alliance. Francis and Sandra worked tirelessly to build relations between the community and police after the violence. At the slavery hearing I met with a number of the young women and men who had been nurtured by Francis and Sandra while they were at High Cross, and what an impressive bunch of individuals they were.
Now while the presence of more police may make the streets feel safer it is addressing the symptom not the problem. The real work needs to start before the individuals get to the stage where they feel they have to carry a knife or a gun. What London needs is not more police but more people like Francis, Sandra and Nims.