We Can Learn from Each Other When It Comes to Tackling the Gangs; Former New York Police Chief Tells the Standard How Technology Could Help in the Fight against Knife Crime EXCLUSIVE

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 26, 2018 | Go to article overview

We Can Learn from Each Other When It Comes to Tackling the Gangs; Former New York Police Chief Tells the Standard How Technology Could Help in the Fight against Knife Crime EXCLUSIVE


Byline: Daniel Bates in New York

THE Met and the NYPD can learn from each other in their battles against gang crime, former New York police chief Bill Bratton says today.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard, he welcomed the idea of London using the "public health model" of tackling gangs and youth violence.

The idea, highlighted in the Standard last week, suggests treating the issue as a public health problem, with a focus on prevention and using a wide range of services to deter those at risk of falling into gang crime.

Mr Bratton said: "There's no definitive one-size-fits-all solution. It's not just a police response issue, it involves community and other various entities, social workers, schools." The model, developed by an American epidemiologist, Gary Slutkin, has seen success in tackling knife crime in Scotland.

Mr Bratton, who was once viewed as a potential head of the Met, said the promise of status and wealth lured young men to crime on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Your gangs in London have many similarities to some gangs in the US. Some gangs are more sophisticated than others but they have a common denominator: a place where particularly young men gather for an idea of belonging. They want this idea of empowerment. Gangs provide that. It's the same thing as al Qaeda or ISIS recruiting people."

He cited the "Ring of Steel" CCTV cameras as an example of how he learned from the UK capital and said London could learn from New York too.

But he also said that the Met had fallen behind the likes of the New York Police Department when it comes to lawenforcement technology. The NYPD had got ahead by giving all 36,000 street officers a custom-designed smartphone and by trialling facial scanning cameras at toll booths on bridges and tunnels.

By comparison Scotland Yard has struggled to roll out mobile tablet computers and has faced issues with replacing decades-old software systems. The comments from Mr Bratton, who twice served as commissioner of the NYPD and once as the head of Los Angeles Police Department, come as London faces a surge in violent crime. Moped gangs are terrorising the streets, knife offences rose 21 per cent last year and homicides went up by 44 per cent. In February and March London saw more killings per capita than New York.

Mr Bratton, 70, was awarded an OBE for his work fostering ties between UK and US police and was once considered by David Cameron for the job of Met commissioner. He first served as NYPD commissioner from 1994 to 1996 under mayor Rudy Giuliani, when in just 27 months crime fell 33 per cent and the murder rate halved. His success was credited to his "Broken Windows" policing theory focusing on street-level offences to stop more serious ones happening. He is now executive chairman at strategic advisory firm Teneo Risk.

During his second term as NYPD boss, which ended in 2016, his force became "probably one of the most technologically advanced police departments in the world", he said. One of the most significant tools was giving every street officer a special smartphone that allows them access to police databases and gives alerts for in-progress crimes. …

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