Integrated Gangs Unit's vital work to support people away from violent crime
Cllr Caroline Selman, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, outlines how the borough’s Integrated Gangs Unit is working to reduce violent crime:
The Financial Times yesterday profiled the fantastic work of Hackney’s Integrated Gangs Unit (IGU) which, since 2010, has been working to reduce violent gang-related crime in the borough.
I am extremely proud of the IGU, which was the first co-located unit of its kind when it was set up. It brings together staff from the Council, police, third-sector organisations and government agencies. They all work to reduce violent crime by tackling the social, educational, mental health and employment factors that underwrite the path of too many people into crime.
The IGU works directly with the 150 people in Hackney who are at the highest risk of involvement in gang activity.
It takes time - often years of consistent work - to convince those engaged in violent crime that there are other opportunities out there. Sometimes this can even mean outreach workers from the IGU accompanying people to the job centre or medical appointments, or backing up a college or apprenticeship application.
The level of trust and consistency that staff from the unit can offer to those it supports has been achieved through the sustained backing of the Council, police and other partners, and a commitment to supporting the work of its dedicated staff. This is why in our manifesto we pledged to continue to give the IGU the support it needs to continue its excellent work.
Following the IGU's formation in 2010, Hackney saw a reduction in gang violence. The number of gun-related crimes in the borough dropped from 114 in the year to February 2011 to 66 in the year to February 2018. Until the recent surge in violence across the capital, there had not been a gang-related murder in Hackney for two years.
The recent rise in violent crime experienced across London and the country is extremely troubling, and the causes are extremely complicated. The IGU has a crucial role to play and is one part of the solution, which includes a much broader range of preventative work, including through our youth services.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking to members of the community - including at an over 100-strong meeting in Hackney attended by local community leaders and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - to make sure we understand the rise in violence and are doing all we can to tackle it.
These conversations with the community, including with the borough’s amazing and talented young people, will continue, as will our tireless work - through the IGU and our other services - to do all we can to halt the surge in violent crime.
Cllr Caroline Selman, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement