The news that Sadiq Khan has launched a Violence Reduction Unit in London, based on a Glasgow model; which treats violent crime as a public health matter, is to be welcomed.
The growth in violence has plagued Khan’s Mayorship, with many blaming him for the rise in knife crime in London.
There have been 100 homicides in the capital so far this year. A third of the victims were aged 16 to 24, and three in five of the killings were stabbings.
Cuts to the Police Force have undoubtedly resulted in a rise in crime seems; there is another issue which we need to address if we are to have any hope of stopping violence:
Places with the most inequality are consistently the most violent – think of Nigeria, America and South Africa. And to be clear, it is not the poorer societies which face the most violence, far from it. It is those in which inequality is sewn into the very fabric of life.
Income inequality is significantly greater in London than elsewhere in England.
In the three years to 2015/2016, the income of someone just inside the top 10% was eight times higher than someone just inside the bottom 10% of earners earned more than the bottom 50%.
London, is a city which is now defined by inequality.
50% of London’s wealth is owned by the richest 10% of its households. The bottom 50% own just over 5%. Over the last two years the least wealthy 10% of people have lost 32% of their wealth compared to a 2% drop across Great Britain. Meanwhile, the wealth of the top 10% in London has increased by 25%.
London is such an overcrowded place that the disparity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is constantly rubbed in the faces of those struggling to make ends meet.
Experiences of being viewed as inferior often manifests itself in aggressive behavior.
Furthermore lack of opportunity leave feelings of powerless and a realisation that hard work will not lead to success.
Fear and hopelessness are major drivers of violence. Inequality encourages social competition which can be settled with violence.
Now, those in favour of the status quo will talk about the power of the market and will find isolated incidences of someone poor who became a millionaire and will claim any efforts to curtail the rise in inequality are from people jealous of anyone who does well, or will ruin the economy.
But we are now all seeing the impact that inequality has on society as violence grows. Every day there is a news story about another stabbing or murder in London. And if we are to change this we need a clear and honest idea on the causes of it. We simply cannot afford to ignore it anymore.