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Times letters: Knife crime and stressed children

PUBLISHED: 08:00 25 February 2018

Mayor of London will continue to fight against knife crime.

Mayor of London will continue to fight against knife crime.

MPS

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Times’ readers this week.

Fight against knife crime needs funds

Navin Shah AM, Brent and Harrow, writes:

Knife crime remains one of the most urgent and intractable issues that we face as Londoners.

It’s also clear that cuts to the Met’s budget by central government are adding to the strain.

We find ourselves in a situation whereby the mayor is forced to locate another £325million of savings in the next few years, in addition to the £600m of cuts made in recent years.

However, it has been welcome to see that despite the burgeoning black hole in funding, the mayor has continued to invest in tackling violent crime in the capital.

I was pleased to hear his recent announcements of a £45m fund to stem the increase in knife crime and youth violence, and a further £60m of investment into the Met, raised from business rates, to mitigate the impact of government cuts.

This is on top of the £15m he has already allocated to the Met Police’s anti-knife crime initiatives.

Tackling knife crime in our communities requires a complex and nuanced approach.

Instead of making indiscriminate cuts, the government should follow the lead of the Mayor and properly invest in our police force and young people as a priority.

75 per cent of London pupils are stressed out

Lynn Gradwell, director, Barnardo’s London, writes:

A recent Barnardo’s survey found three quarters of all London school children say school is one of their biggest causes of stress – higher than anywhere else in the UK.

More than half of children aged 12 to 16 years old in our capital feel sad or anxious at least once a week, and an overwhelming majority - 73 per cent - think it would be helpful if they had a counsellor or another professional at school to talk to.

It is deeply worrying that so many young Londoners are growing up feeling this way, with the poll revealing that those feelings intensify as they get older.

The survey also shows that children like to speak to a range of people when they are feeling troubled, calling into question the government’s mental health green paper proposal to train just one senior lead in each school about mental health.

As the UK’s leading children’s charity, Barnardo’s provided specialist mental health and wellbeing support to 21,100 children, young people, parents and carers last year, through our services in London and the wider UK.

We strongly believe we need to create a culture where everyone has a greater understanding of what keeps children mentally well and when professional help is needed.

We want parents and carers to be confident in recognising if their children are unhappy and teachers and other professionals to be sufficiently trained, adequately resourced and available to support them.

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