AN OPPOSITION councillor has called for the council to purchase mobile knife arches in the wake of fears of a summer of violence.

Cllr Andy Stranack told The Chronicle they cost £4,000 each and could be deployed by police across the borough: “so we can take practical steps to make sure this summer is a safe one for all our citizens.”

Speaking at the council’s cabinet meeting on July 12, he said: “My heart breaks as I’m sure all ours does when we come to a meeting and have to report that another young person’s death.

“[At a community meeting on Friday] there was a real fear from community leaders that this was the start of a summer of knife and gun crime across our borough.”

“I would like to call for an emergency community safety strategy to be drawn up within the next 30 days to set out how we are going to tackle this epidemic in our borough.”

Council leader Hamidi Allr responded: “Our focus as a local authority is to be utterly focussed on prevention.

“Our communities can’t continue to face these tragedies, we are looking at our summer programme to ensure it can reach everyone we know it needs to.”

There is a London wide Violence Reduction Unit spearheaded by Mayor Sadiq Khan but Croydon has its own VRU which was set up to work closely with communities to identify those at risk of offending and has so far cost around £4.4million.

It was hailed as an innovative public health approach to violence reduction to stem the tide of knife crime but knife crime hasn’t decreased. Set up in October 2019 the ideas is based on a successful initiative in Scotland with ex Council Leader Tony Newman saying at the launch: “Evidence from Glasgow shows that this approach really can work.The vast majority of senior police officers tell me that you can’t arrest your way out of knife crime – you need a change of culture.

“We want to change services, join them up and drive a long-term prevention strategy.”

In the wake of the council going bankrupt services have been decimated and staff cut.

Cllr Hamida Ali, who was the cabinet lead for community safety became leader and the role is now filled by Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed.

Director Rachel Hayward was appointed to spearhead the department but has been seconded elsewhere and the post is vacant.The borough’s community safety plan for 2020-2023 which the council should have published in March last year still hasn’t been consulted on.

Labour has tried to blame Covid for delays to the process bu the council has a statutory obligation, The Croydon Safer Partnership has met just once since the beginning of 2020 and has failed to publish any minutes documenting discussions around the safety of the borough’s young people.

Councillor  Shahul-Hameed said: “.. we’ve started speaking to the voluntary and community organisations and a number of consultation meetings will be taking place across the borough in preparation for developing that strategy.”

Picture credit: Met police