What Sadiq Khan should have said on knife crime

Knife crime | Housing PR & marketing
  1. Sadiq Khan: ‘10 years to solve knife crime’ – what the London mayor should have said:

When the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, gave an interview on rising knife crime in the capital to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme earlier this month, he knew it was going to be tough. However, he would have hoped to avoid the headlines that followed on the BBC and in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, and many other media outlets.

It may well have taken a decade to reduce knife crime in Glasgow following the introduction of a key policy to tackle it. However, I doubt this was one of the key messages Khan was briefed to give ahead of the interview.

This shows how even the most experienced media performers can come unstuck. The key point here is preparation, preparation, preparation. Supporting media spokespeople with carefully crafted key messages and well thought through Q&As is valuable comms team work. Exec teams may not always see it that way when they are pressed for time, but avoiding a damaging interview clanger can be worth its weight in gold.

What the London mayor said: “To really make significant progress can take up to 10 years – a generation.”

What he should have said: “We are taking urgent action to stop knife crime. We want to ensure what we do works and makes our streets safe for everyone.

“As a first and immediate step we are stepping up police patrols and stop and search to ensure we do all we can to get knives off the streets and protect our young people.

“Longer-term, we have seen the significant progress that has been made in a city like Glasgow where there were similar problems with knife-related violence. That city successfully implemented a long-term plan and has seen a dramatic fall in knife crime. We are taking the best of the Glasgow approach and applying it to London.

“Results of this approach will not come overnight – it will take time to alter behaviours and thinking. However, we are determined to work with our communities to beat knife crime.”

2: A welcome giant of the South London skyline

Kate Macintosh designed Dawson’s Heights in East Dulwich, south London for Southwark Council

I lived in south-east London for 13 years. In that time there was huge change and investment into Peckham and East Dulwich. But one thing remained gloriously constant perched on the skyline to the south, overseeing it all: Dawson’s Heights.

It was designed by Scottish architect Kate Macintosh when she was in her late 20s and was working at Southwark Council. In its excellent recent interview here with Macintosh, Inside Housing calls the two buildings and their distinctive ‘v’ profile and stepped terracing a ‘Mesopotamian ziggurat temple’. For me the 1964-72 structure is an enduring symbol of all that is right about great council-designed housing. Any local authorities seeking to make a lasting, positive difference in meeting housing need with their newfound financial capacity could do much worse than pay a visit to SE22.

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