London ‘very safe’ says police chief who lowered Boston murder rate

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London’s high rate of violence is “just an uptick”, according to a police chief who tackled violence in a major US city.

William “Bill” Evans was a police officer in Boston from 1982 until earlier this summer, taking on the role of commissioner from November 2013.

Under his tenure, homicides in Boston reached a 15-year low in 2015, when there were 40 killings. There were 58 in 2017.

He told the Press Association: “Every big city, no matter where you live, has similar issues.

There have been more than 100 murder investigations launched in the capital since the start of this year.

Mr Evans credits using education to provide opportunity and confront gang violence for the success in lowering the homicide rate in Boston.

He said: “There’s no such thing as a bad person, just people in need of opportunity.

“We get to the root of why there is violence – a lot of them don’t have a solid family, they don’t have the education that a lot of us do.”

“I look at how I grew up – I grew up as a poor kid in south Boston, I lost my parents and a brother before the time I was 14, but I had a local priest get me into a good school.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t get that opportunity. Opportunities and education are key to keeping kids out of gangs.”

Mr Evans played a leading role in the police operation following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.

A keen runner, he had completed the race earlier in the day, and returned to the scene to co-ordinate the immediate aftermath.

The former commissioner has been integral to an exchange project which has seen those involved with the Boston tragedy share ideas and experiences with those affected by the Manchester Arena bombing last year.

He said his visit to Manchester earlier this year highlighted that support for officers on both side of the Atlantic is key.

When asked what could be improved, he said: “Making sure our officers’ physical and mental health is taken care of, I think we’ve always neglected that.”

Of Manchester’s officers, he said: “They had some young beautiful children that were killed – that’s something no-one should ever have to deal with.

“I saw a connection here, so we share ideas on how to deal with it. We both took a lot of great ideas away from it.

“Trauma training, and mental health is even more in the spotlight. The aftermath of seeing anything violent can have an impact further on in a person’s life.”

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