Sadiq Khan warns cost of living crisis could cause spike in violent crime on London’s streets

Knife crime fell last year - but could a rise in poverty reverse progress?

Source > My London

By Josiah Mortimer City Hall Editor

9 JUN 2022, 10:58 BST

Sadiq Khan has warned the ongoing cost of living crisis could cause a jump in violent crime. While official figures show that knife crime and gun crime fell last year, the pressures families are facing could “jeopardise the progress that’s been made,” the Mayor of London fears.

The warning comes as figures show that knife crime in the capital fell by seven per cent in 2021, while gun crime was down by 18 per cent. The first half of 2022 has also seen fewer teenage murders compared to last year’s record figures. The Mayor’s office says it is a result of the mayor’s “tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime” approach. However, Mr Khan has warned that the level of violent crime is still far too high, and a lack of opportunities and cash for young Londoners could act as drivers of violence.

New City Hall analysis on the causes of violence highlights links between deprivation, poverty and vulnerability to crime. In London, six out of the 10 boroughs with the highest increases in unemployment over the pandemic are represented in the top 10 boroughs for serious violence. Seven of the boroughs with the largest increase in demand for food parcels from the Trussell Trust in 2020/21 also in the top 10 for serious violence. However, it is not clear from the data if hunger itself causes violence.

The mayor says he has invested “record” amounts in the Met Police since taking office in 2016, with City Hall cash funding 1,300 more police officers to suppress violence in local areas. Met Police officer numbers are now at their highest levels in history (34,542) – though the increase hasn’t tracked with the rise in London’s population.

The Labour administration in London set up the first Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in England and Wales in 2019 to push for prevention and early intervention in tackling violence. City Hall believes that school exclusions may also play a role in pushing young people into crime.

Mr Khan, said: “Tackling violence and making our city safer is my number one priority. In London, we’ve been tackling violent crime head on by being both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. This has resulted in violent crime falling since before the pandemic.

“But the level of violence remains far too high. One death is one too many, with every death leaving lives destroyed, communities hurting and families heartbroken. I’m determined to build on the progress we have made, but we must acknowledge that the spiralling cost of living could make things even more challenging and even risks taking us backwards.

“That’s why I’m working closely with the police and community groups across London to provide them with the resources they need…As with poverty, violence is not inevitable. The progress we have seen in London proves that by working together to tackle crime and addressing its complex causes, we can help save lives and make our communities safer.”

Commander Alex Murray, the Met’s lead for tackling Violent Crime, said: “Tackling violent crime and what drives is the top priority for us all in the Met. Officers across London have been doing all they can to bear down on it while working with partners to prevent it from happening in the first place. Officers do this with such passion because they see first-hand how violence ruins the lives of victims and their families – it’s what motivates them.

“We know there may be challenges ahead of us as we head into the summer months and there is more we can all do. We will continue to build on the successes and inroads we have made to drive violence levels down. Protecting Londoners and keeping communities safe is at the very forefront of our focus.”

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