Plans for Labour politician Lib Peck to spearhead the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) have been met with hostility from critics. The Lambeth council leader will step down after 6 years of service in the borough, to head Sadiq Khan’s latest attempt to reduce violent crime in the capital.
Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon tweeted that she was “utterly disappointed” by the appointment, describing Peck as a “career politician” who is “mates with the Mayor”.Susan Hall was also critical of the decision. The Tory assembly member expressed her frustrations insisting “This move shows that Sadiq Khan is guilty of blatant cronyism”. Fellow Conservative Gareth Bacon also took to twitter to air his disappointment. Peck beat competitor and former parole Board chairman Nick Hardwickto the £100,000-plus job.
Despite the backlash, Peck remains optimistic. She said “I am delighted to have been appointed as the first director of the Violence Reduction Unit. Tackling violence is a number one priority for Londoners and I hope to be effective in working with a huge variety of community groups, public sector partners and the police to bring a fresh approach to this devastating and destructive crime”.
Following the model successfully developed in Glasgow, the unit aims to use public health methods of early intervention and focus on mental health to combat gun and knife crime in the city. The initiative was established last year with a £1.8 million annual budget and one- time investment of £5 million. The VRU has hit the ground running conducting an urgent review of homicides and incidents of serious violence since 2014.
Death as a result of knife and gun crime in London is at its highest rate for 10 years.