Labour’s Keir Starmer warns vulnerable young people could be falling ‘under the radar’ amid lockdown

Labour leader Kier Starmer. Picture: Stefan Rousseau

Labour leader Kier Starmer. Picture: Stefan Rousseau - Credit: PA

Labour leader Keir Starmer believes young people who are at risk of committing violent crime may be falling under the radar during the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking to this newspaper after a virtual town hall event for Barnet residents, the Holborn and St Pancras MP said key moments when a vulnerable young person is identified may be missed in the lockdown, such as at school.

He warned against becoming complacent in light of decreasing crime reports: “There are concerns the crime moves in different ways and young people can go under the radar.

“Youth and community support is much harder to implement. Some of it can be done around community centres but it is a gradual process and we should not make the mistake of thinking that in lockdown there is not criminal activity.”

Starmer, along with Camden’s Cllr Abdul Hai, co-chairs a taskforce in the borough dedicated to tackling young people’s violent crime.

READ MORE: View from the House: Taskforce ready to tackle youth violenceEvery few weeks, the Youth Safety Taskforce’s steering group checks in with 12 projects it started to fund in 2019.

Each initiative is helping to deliver 17 of the Youth Safety Taskforce’s recommendations, which include mobilising community groups, increasing early interventions and improving access to information.

The projects, which each received a share of £500,000 for two years, include the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, Camden Reintegration Base, and the Camden Safer Neighbourhood Board.

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The taskforce was set up after two young men were stabbed to death in February 2018 and knife crime injuries doubled in the borough from 2016 to 2017.

READ MORE: ‘This has to stop’: Council pledge £500,000 after task force reports back on causes of youth crimeIn the virtual town hall chaired by the Ham&High, Starmer addressed a range of concerns, such as the government’s homelessness policies.

Starmer said: “The steps that have been taken to help people off the street in lockdown demonstrates the (previous) policies have been a political choice and it (housing rough sleepers) can be done.

“What is needed is not just the accommodation, but the support for welfare and mental health issues are needed as well.”

He praised Camden Council for doing “its best” to help rough sleepers when facing a funding shortfall amid the pandemic.