Back in 2008, Boris Johnson said “I will never accept defeat, and I believe that by using all the powers available to the Mayor and taking a fresh approach, we can tackle knife and gun crime in London.” Yet figures suggest that the number of young victims of knife crime in the capital has risen by 29% since 2008. The statistics in some boroughs are particularly stark, with a rise of 71% in Southwark and 63% in both Lambeth and Lewisham.
There are serious concerns about the way in which youth knife crime is being handled by the mayor. Johnson tried to mislead members of the GLA about knife crime in Waltham Forest telling them “Operation Connect, which is directly targeted at the gangs, has been working well in Waltham Forest and knife crime there has come down by 13%” in July 2011. However, the Met actually report a small rise in knife crime during Operation Connect’s lifetime in Waltham Forest.
Responding to the figures, shadow home affairs minister Stella Creasy said:
“Time and time again, Boris Johnson doesn’t seem to be able to get his facts right on this critical issue. He said when he was elected that he would never accept “defeat“ in the fight against knife crime – but three years on we can see it has risen every year of his term in office, with nearly 7,500 young victims this year alone. Boris Johnson keeps bungling the evidence of knife crime and youth offending, meaning Londoners are asking if we can have confidence in his ability to lead action in this area.”
London Councils reported that youth offending teams are experiencing a 23% average cut in London, with some boroughs facing decreases of over 30%. In addition to this, the Home Secretary has cut the grant given to local authorities for community safety by 20% this year and a further 40% in 2012-13. It is being abolished in 2014 with no alternative funding.