Heavy-duty steel doors and airlock lobbies have been fitted at youth clubs amid spiralling knife violence.
Four clubs in Haringey, Westminster and Lambeth had security features beefed up to reduce violent crime. The Met said the new doors are strong enough to withstand attacks by intruders, while allowing staff to remotely lock and unlock them.
Two doors fitted to create an airlock lobby, like those seen in banks to thwart armed robbers, enable staff to vet those coming in and out. As a result of the measures, youth workers say they feel equipped to protect teenagers.
London Fire Brigade carried out inspections of all the premises to identify fire hazards and plan evacuations. In addition to the security measures, 10 youth clubs in the capital will soon receive defibrillators along with the necessary training to use them in the event of a stabbing.
The youth and community centre security scheme initiative is part of a Met partnership with Secured By Design, LFB and London Ambulance Service.
The initiative received £100,000 of Home Office “surge funding” intended to tackle violent crime. Further funding has been earmarked to ensure more centres for youngsters can also benefit. Last week, Scotland Yard warned London was on track for its worst year for teenage killings with 17 deaths in 2021.
On June 11, Jalan Woods-Bell, 15, became the third teenager killed in a week when he was stabbed in Hayes, west London. If the rate continues, police say this year could overtake the total of 28 teenage killings in 2008. The 2019 murder of Glendon Spence, 23, at the Marcus Lipton youth centre in Brixton was caught on CCTV.
Mr Spence was chased around the building by two youths before being knifed in the thigh. Two teenagers were jailed for a total of 32 years for murder.
Tim Saunders, of Alford House youth club in Kennington, said: “Any youth worker will tell you that they strive to carry out activity in a safe environment, emotional and physical.
“Anything that improves safety must be welcomed. The new design actually makes the entrance to the club much more welcoming than before.”
Met assistant commissioner Helen Ball added: “We have worked to improve the security of these clubs so that young people have safe spaces to return to as lockdown restrictions begin to lift.”