The "Glasgow model" has been widely praised as a way of tackling violent crime. Now, the same approach will be tried in London. But as knife crime continues to dominate the front pages, can it really make a difference?by Shanae Dennis / March 11, 2019 / Leave a comment
It is rare for a week to go by without news of bloodshed on London streets. 17 teenagers have already tragically lost their lives as a result of knife crime this year. With the number of knife crime offences in 2018 being the highest in almost a decade, what can we expect for 2019?
On the 8th January, the city was shaken by the brutal murder of Jayden Moodie, aged only 14 when he was killed in an attack which police say lasted 30 seconds. Since then, further attacks have highlighted the urgent need for a solution.
The solution being presented by the Government, and led by Mayor Sadiq Khan, is a public health approach, to be implemented by the new London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) which having been awarded an initial £500,000 funding has now received further £6.8m investment. (A “public health approach” is evidence-based, focussing on causes and attitudes towards violence rather than enforcement techniques.) This will be modelled on the VRU which was established by Strathclyde Police in 2005 as a reaction to the extremely high levels of violent crime in Glasgow.
The first major initiative of its kind in the UK to adopt a public health approach, the original VRU’s aims were to reduce violent crime and behaviour, achieving long-term societal and attitudinal change by working with agencies in fields such as health, education and social work.
This programme has been widely praised and independently evaluated, making it a seemingly useful intervention to mirror. A preliminary evaluation found that the so-called “Glasgow model” was effective, with a 59 per cent reduction in knife possession—and an overall 85 per cent reduction in weapon possession—among those involved, contributing to 46 per cent fewer violent incidents.
In 2004/05, there were 137 murders in Scotland. By 2016/17, this number had been reduced dramatically to 61. Sadiq Khan and his team have subsequently spent time in Glasgow investigating how a similar approach could be scaled up.
A public health approach is apparently also favoured by central government, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid announcing late last year that he would be pushing for this approach to end “the source of violent crime.”