Guest Speaker – Councillor Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities

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Thornton Heath Branch were pleased to welcome Councillor Hamida Ali to discuss Croydon Council’s approach to tackling youth violence.

Hamida spoke of a study which identified 60 cases of young people participating in knife crime and trying to understand common characteristics of the individuals. Interim findings:

  • Not one of 60 young people had a permanent place in school (exclusions)
  • Not one of them had a relationship with a trusted adult – no mentor, grandparent, and in effect no one to turn to
  • Significant unaddressed mental health needs
  • Domestic violence and early exposure to violence
  • Maternal absence, physically or emotionally (working, pressures)

The study goes a long way to justifying a public health approach to tackling knife crime. Hamida acknowledges the current challenge we face and the scale of the problem, which is not just a Croydon issue but a London-wide and Nationwide issue. On a positive note Hamida pointed out that whilst knife crime has gone up in London by 22% it has gone down in Croydon by 11%. Sadiq Khan singled out Croydon’s efforts for reducing crime. That said, Croydon still has disproportionately high offence rates and lots of work to be done.

Hamida outlined a number of things Croydon Council are currently doing to tackle knife crime, including:

  • Local strategic partnerships: leaders coming together to discuss cross-cutting common issues of borough, work with voluntary sector etc.
  • Prevention/ early intervention
  • Working in schools – intervening prior to thresholds being passed.
  • London crime prevention fund – funded two youth workers to work in particular schools.
  • Video-based workshops around drugs, gangs and knives experienced by all young people in secondary schools and also taken into primary schools
  • Targeted approaches such as police enforcement in known hotspots
  • Enforcement i.e. Trading Standards Team working with retailers.
  • Responsible retailer agreement with over 150 shops. Lots of mystery shopping – young volunteers – testing the sale of age restricted products.


Despite the positive steps taken by Croydon Council and the local community, Hamida outlined challenges including:

  • Communications and awareness raising, too many people not aware of what is going on.
  • Parents need to be better supported and educated about issues
  • Voluntary organisations under-utilised.

Questions and comments from audience centred on impact of cuts, limited resources in schools and lack of intervention in primary schools.