Selhurst killing shows we need action to tackle violent gangs

A 23-year-old man was knifed to death and three other young men wounded in a violent attack in Selhurst last night. This appears to have been one of the most horrific examples yet of a growing problem with violent gang crime in Croydon. Like everyone else, my thoughts are with the family of those affected.

Despite public protests, London’s previous Tory mayor slashed police numbers in Croydon after the 2011 riots and closed every police station in Croydon North, including South Norwood police station near the scene of last night’s murder.

Projects like St Giles Trust SOS that help young offenders exit violent gangs were axed, and youth unemployment in some of our communities remains too high. While you can’t legislate against every criminal act, the sense of hopelessness and lack of support that too many troubled young people experience has undoubtedly contributed to a growing problem with violent gangs.

Our council is now doing more. A £6m youth facility will soon open in Selhurst, and the council is working with employers and developers to help local unemployed people find jobs in Croydon’s multi-billion-pound town-centre regeneration programme. But more targeted action is needed urgently.

I spoke to London’s new Deputy Mayor for Policing, Sophie Linden, last month about the growing menace of violent youth gangs on Croydon’s streets. She is due to visit to see for herself what’s going wrong and how City Hall can help. I’ve also set up a steering group for a new community youth trust that will give young people a voice over problems they understand better than anyone else.

While we come to terms with last night’s horrific events, the community needs reassurance that public authorities at every level are coming together to prevent another tragedy like this happening on our streets.

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