Death of Daniel Laskos far from isolated as London teen killings surge
- Credit: Adriana Elgueta
With London facing its worst year for the killing of young people in more than a decade, the Met is launching a "large scale, multi-layered operation" in a bid to stop the trend in its tracks.
Last month's fatal stabbing of teenager Daniel Laskos sent shockwaves around Harold Wood, yet recent figures from the Met Police show that this tragedy is part of a surge in teen homicides across the capital.
While serious violence offences have dropped by 22 per cent over the past year, including the overall murder rate, the number of teen killings has risen alarmingly.
With 17 teenagers - including 16-year-old Daniel - killed so far this year, a concerted effort is being made to ensure the numbers don't reach levels not seen since 2008.
Should the current rate continue, they will.
The Recorder attended a virtual briefing today (June 17) on the Met's new operation, where speakers discussed how to prevent this becoming a reality.
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Cmdr Alex Murray, the Met’s lead for violent crime said: “We are devoting huge resources into doing everything within our power to minimise violence.
"It is our priority and can affect anyone from any background."
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Despite the overall reduction in crime - partly influenced by "behavioural changes due to Covid" - Cmdr Murray is alarmed by the upward trend affecting young people.
He promised efforts are being made to tackle this problem, "from intervention through to enforcement", but fears this may not be enough.
"If we don’t all work together, we could lose more lives," he said.
This fear has driven the Met to launch a "large scale, multi-layered operation", to take place over a summer which will also see lockdown restrictions ease further.
The figures released by the force demonstrate the influence of knife crime on the overall landscape; a knife has been the weapon of choice in 14 (82 per cent) of the 17 incidents so far this year.
This number was 93pc for last year, where there were 15 teen deaths, and 96pc of the 26 such killings in 2019.
Two mothers who have lost their sons to knife crime also spoke at the briefing: Yvonne Lawson and Pastor Lorraine Jones.
The pair are involved with the Hard Calls Save Lives campaign, which encourages people to come forward with information on crime.
They discussed a number of issues, centering around an overriding message that people must report what they know.
Yvonne believes there is a "cycle of violence" from which “young people in particular are finding it really hard to escape”.
Pastor Jones shared this view, arguing that tackling this problem is a "community responsibility; a public health responsibility".
She delivered an emphatic message: "Don’t keep silent, because your son could be killed or could become a murderer."
Silence can sometimes be down to a lack of trust in the police, acknowledged Cmdr Murray.
Urging people to not see the giving of information as "snitching", he emphasised that communities are pivotal in the fight against teen crime.
The figures show just how important it is to share information, with charges brought in 13 of the 17 investigations this year.
Included in that number are those accused of killing Daniel Laskos, who will appear before the Old Bailey on July 30.
The Recorder sought to find out what is being done specifically in east London - including Havering - to get a hold of this spiralling problem.
As part of the above operation, Cmdr Murray promised there will be more police on the street in the hopes that greater visibility will deter violence.
Among a range of initiatives, there will be focused robbery operations, surge activity - overt police visibility - in hotspot areas, and a continuation of Operation Pandilla (the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) intended to disrupt county lines).
He's clear that, without the community, no level of police intervention will be successful: "Everyone has a role to play. Community leaders, businesses, politicians, youth workers, parents and teachers – quite literally anybody and everybody."