The council has promised to “deal robustly” with knife crime following a “concerning increase” in attacks in what is usually one of the city’s ‘safest’ boroughs. There have been six knife related incidents in Harrow since the start of the year, which have seen seven people hospitalised and two deaths.
The most recent case saw a triple stabbing on Wellesley Road, near the town centre on August 9. Two men were taken to hospital with stab wounds, whilst a third man was pronounced dead at the scene. Alongside the Metropolitan Police, Harrow Council are working with schools and local communities to tackle the issue.
Portfolio holder for environment and community safety, Cllr Anjana Patel, told the Cabinet at a recent meeting that knife crime “is not unique to Harrow” and affects every borough across London but also highlighted that Harrow has some of the lowest knife related offences in the city.
Cllr Patel said: “Therefore, any knife related issues or incidents have a dramatic spike effect and does not always portray an accurate picture of the extent of the issue. […] The council, alongside the police, are working very robustly to deal with knife crime and protect residents from becoming victims but also raising awareness.”
The new ‘Met for London’ plan, which aims to provide more effective policing for residents across the city, was launched in Harrow last month. It focuses on fighting crime and rebuilding trust with communities – knife crime being a key priority of it.
Harrow is the second safest London borough when ordered by violent crime rate, according to police data, however, there have already been a number of serious incidents since the turn of the year. In January, four teenagers were injured in a knife attack during a house party on Tudor Road and just a month later a 27-year-old man was rushed to hospital after being stabbed on Elmgrove Road.
In April, an air ambulance came to the aid of a young man in his 20s after he was stabbed near to St George’s Shopping Centre. Then in June, a 46-year-old man was left fighting for his life in hospital after an attempted burglary on Kenton Road turned violent and in July a 49-year-old man was stabbed to death in Pinner Road.
Cllr Patel said the council has been working with the superintendent “to ensure [the Met for London plan] is localised for Harrow residents” and pointed to a “consistent police presence” in the town centre since 2022, which focuses on key operations in keeping the community safe.
She added: “This is part of our approach as a partnership through the communities safety strategy. These operations have focused on robbery, antisocial behaviour, knife crime and violence. We have seen a consistent reduction of around 20 to 30 per cent when the police run operations such as this.”
A 2022 survey carried out by community forum Harrow Safer Spaces found that 79 per cent of residents said that knife crime was a problem in their area. It also outlined some of the measures the council would take to tackle the issue, such as ‘days of action’ specifically targeting knife crime in local hotspot areas to reassure residents.
Cllr Peymana Assad believes knife crime “is not a priority” for the council as it has not put any extra money towards it. Addressing the Cabinet, she claimed not to have seen “any days of action in the areas where there have been stabbings”.
Cllr Patel said: “We take all of our crimes very seriously. We have done a week of action in Edgware, […] which has been very successful. We have put quite a lot of days of action in place but this is something we need to do in partnership with the police. The next one we will be planning in a few months’ time.”
Operations have focused on the bus station and shopping centre, as well as engaging with people coming in and out of the borough. Cllr Patel said: “During the summer months we do see a spike in crime. […] Warmer and lighter weather sees an increase in young people going into areas like shopping centres. Knife carriers tend to be young and that is why town centre operations are key to addressing that.”
The council have also forged closer relationships with the British Transport Police in order to have a greater presence on train and Tube lines, as well as working with schools policing teams to work with young communities and identify those who might carry a weapon.
Cllr Paul Osborn: “[Knife crime] is an area where joint working is really important and we need to make sure we step that up. One of the advantages of the new Met Police plan is that there is much more focus on borough based teams.”
He added: “They are now reintroducing across London a superintendent in each borough and I think that’s going to make a real difference.”