Gun and Knife Crime – Time to Stop the Senseless Killings

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2019 National Delegate Conference
19 February 2019

The number of deaths as a result of gun and knife crime in London, and inner cities across the country, continues to make the news with the number of innocent lives lost seemingly increasing on a daily basis.

The right wing press claim that the situation is a result of ‘lawless Britain’ but the truth is much more straightforward – since the Tories came to power in 2010 their austerity agenda has seen billions of pounds slashed from public services leaving youth services, social services and policing, to name a few, cut to the bone leaving young people with nowhere to go, spending time on the streets and vulnerable to gangs.

For every 100,000 people in the capital, there were 137 knife offences in 2017-18, with separate figures, from the mayor’s office, showing that young Black teenage boys and men were disproportionately affected, as both victims and perpetrators.

UNISON members are at the forefront of dealing with the impact of these crimes with our ambulance and NHS workers helping those that have been shot or stabbed, social services etc providing support in the aftermath to affected families with decreasing resources.

You cannot tackle these crimes without dealing with the root causes of social deprivation; inadequate and failing education; unemployment; lack of affordable, decent housing, low wages, inadequate skills and training and poverty even for those that are in work.

Conference notes that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has adopted a range of measures to tackle gun and knife crime including creating the Violent Crime Task Force, the London Needs you Alive campaign aimed at young Londoners: providing youth workers in major trauma centres but as it is UNISON members that delivers these strategies and deal with the terrible aftermath of these violent crimes; we need a seat at the table.

Whilst gun and knife crime is not solely a young people’s issue, a significant number of those that lost their lives or were injured last year were young. In the year to October 2017, 59 per cent of gun crime offenders were aged 25 or younger. Young people also made up around a third of gun crime victims. In the first half of 2018 one in five of those cautioned or convicted for carrying a knife was under 18.

As UNISON and the trade union movement celebrate 2019 as the year of the young worker it is time to stop just talking about the issue and we, as Conference, agree it is time to stop the senseless killings and take collective action.

Conference therefore calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Work with the Mayor of London, and other elected mayors, appropriate local authorities, elected councillors and politicians within the regional government and health structures to share information, strategies and best practice on how to tackle gun and knife crime;

2)Develop a campaign highlighting the root causes behind ‘lawless Britain’;

3)Continue to campaign against cuts in funding for public services;

4)Work with the National Young Members Forum on a campaign that recruits young members and activists and works with the Mayor’s office and other bodies on this key issue.