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Cause or effect? The link between gentrification and violent crime
July 12, 2018 | | Financial Times | by Nathan Brooker YESTERDAY.

London, which is experiencing a sustained increase in violent offences as crime rates in other global cities such as New York, Sydney and Hong Kong continue to fall......The escalation of violence has been linked to provocation on social media, increased competition in the drugs trade, a reduction in police measures such as stop and search and an overall drop in police funding— the Met has seen its annual budget cut by about 20 per cent since 2010-11, and it has lost 10 per cent of its police officers in that time......However, one factor that is often overlooked and, according to professional and academic observers, has played a key role in exacerbating London’s recent crime wave, is its gentrifying property market.

Areas of London that have higher levels of deprivation also tend to have higher crime rates.........The level of violence you see is getting much more extreme......Gentrification has had a significant impact on the area....“One of the issues young people have in Hackney Wick is the lack of aspiration, the lack of hope,” says Allen. “They’re all living in a rich, diverse city, but it still feels very separate to them. It’s not their development; it’s somebody else’s. They think they won’t be able to live in the area they were brought up in because they’re not going to be able to spend £600,000 on an apartment.”.........gentrification has not only affected gang recruitment..... it has fundamentally altered how some gangs operate.........“It changed their idea of territory, since some senior members were forced out of the area [by the redevelopment] and had to commute in, for want of a better term,” he says. “Ten years ago there was a very strong connection to territory. There was an emotional connection. But the redevelopment changed that. The only territory that was left was the market place — the drugs market place — and that needs to be protected.”

It’s the protection of that market — one both lucrative and highly nebulous — that is behind some of the increase in violent crime. Without the clear boundaries an estate or a postcode might provide, he says, and with the high value of the drugs trade upping the stakes, transgressions are met with more intense violence.....The reasons behind the dramatic decline in New York’s murder count are much argued over: the growing economy, the end of the crack epidemic have all been put up as possible causes. Yet improvements to policing brought in under former New York police commissioner Bill Bratton cannot be overlooked.

Bratton’s policies, which included clampdowns on various low-level offences, and an increase in stop-question-and-frisk, are often mischaracterised as a zero-tolerance approach to policing, he says.

“What he really did was a management innovation.” Bratton, who was in the office 1994-96 and returned in 2014-16, introduced CompStat, measures that used computer programs to map where and when crimes were taking place, and how police resources were being shared. “When [Bratton] took over, the largest number of cops were on the day shift, but the largest number of crimes took place on the evening shift and the night shift,” he says. Bratton reallocated officers accordingly. They had a slogan: “Put cops on the dots”.......the most important thing Bratton did, Kleiman says, was make management more accountable, hauling in three precinct captains each week to grill them on their CompStat data. During his first year as commissioner, Bratton replaced something like two-thirds of the city’s 76 precinct commanders......The problem with fear is that it’s an unhelpful response. Fear raises money for private security firms, not community programmes; it improves funding to free schools, not failing academies; it promotes only the most brutal, careless forms of policing. In communities that are undergoing gentrification, fear further divides the haves and the have-nots: decreasing the kinds of relationships that might aid social mobility and better connect disadvantaged youth with the city they live in.

And what gets forgotten, says Allen, is that fear goes both ways. “A lot of the young people that get caught up in youth violence are caught up because they’re vulnerable and they’re frightened,”
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