Serious Violence Summit 2019: Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham come together to tackle violent crime

The Serious Violence Summit brought together representatives from Barking and Dagenham, Havering and

The Serious Violence Summit brought together representatives from Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge. Picture: LBBD - Credit: LBBD

The first east London Serious Violence Summit was held last week, and saw the three councils that make up the Met’s East Area Command come together to draw up new ways to tackle rising levels of violent crime.

More than 240 people attended the Serious Violence Summit, which took place on Wednesday, January 16 at Londoneast, in Dagenham, and was the result of a partnership between Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham Councils.

Amidst an increase in levels of violent crime across the capital, the summit started an honest conversation about the causes of violent crime and the solutions that are needed with key partners including:

The deputy mayor for policing and crime Sophie Linden and Det Supt Neil Matthews, former head of operations for the Met’s East Area Command, were among the other speakers who described ways London was tackling violence.

Barking and Dagenham hosted the conference at LondonEast, which was also attended by representatives from Havering and Redbridge councils - the two other borough’s involved in the police’s East Area tri-borough set-up.

Ms Linden said £6.8million had been set aside by City Hall for a violence reduction unit, that plans to help reduce crime across London.

She said: “I’m really clear that the violence reduction unit is not just serious youth violence, it has to also be about domestic violence and sexual violence. We know from the work that you have been doing that often when a young person is perpetrating violence it is because they have grown up with it in the home. It is important to focus on that violence in the home.”

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Supt Matthews, who has recently moved to Croydon MPS, tearfully described how he witnessed his sister being abused by a partner when he was a child.

He told the conference: “My sister’s partner was screaming about why his dinner wasn’t on the table. I saw her being dragged around by her hair.

“A few years ago, drink driving was acceptable. We need to have the same intolerance to this level of domestic violence as we do to drink driving.”

Following the inaugural summit, which attracted more than 240 people, there are plans to host further summits across east London.

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, said: “With £1bn in Government funding cuts from policing across the country it’s not a surprise police resources are limited and an issue that has hit Redbridge residents and other boroughs hard.

“That’s why it’s absolutely critical we work closely with other councils, the police and local communities to keep our residents safe and away from crime.

“The summit was a much-needed opportunity to draw everyone together to share our experiences, intelligence and learn how we can support each other, the police and local services to tackle crime, and highlighted our joint commitment to combat serious violence in East London.

“Redbridge looks forward to hosting the next summit in April to further this work.”

Havering Council’s cabinet member for public protection and safety, Cllr Viddy Persaud, said the summit was a tremendous success.

She added: “The summit was a great opportunity to share our expertise as well as learn about some of the innovative work that our neighbouring authorities are doing and how we can work better together.

“Serious violence is not just a London problem, it is happening everywhere and we need to engaging with all our communities, particularly young people and find more ways to support them and steer them away from a life of crime.”

Barking and Dagenham also announced it will be setting up a domestic violence commission after recording the highest levels of abuse in the home in London.

The panel, which will investigate the underlying causes of domestic abuse, was announced at the first east London violent crime summit.

Cllr Maureen Worby said the issue was “close to her heart” and the committee will investigate the “cultural aspects that may have helped to normalise” domestic abuse.