Tackling gang crime (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
February 22, 2012
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


We welcome the gang initiative, albeit it has taken you a number of years to bring it together. In terms of the facts and figures, I think you are right that they cannot be ignored, unless the Mayor's office is misleading in the figures it is providing me or the Metropolitan Police Service is providing me. Let us stick to the facts and figures. Do you agree with me that the facts and figures you provided me are that knife crime is up? Yes or no?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Tackling gang crime (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Tackling gang crime (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): To the best of my knowledge, knife crime overall is down, but I am happy to --

Len Duvall (AM): Knife crime with young victims is up. Let us focus on young people. I did say earlier, I will define it around the gangs issue. Knife crime of young people, is it up? I think it is, Mr Mayor. Will you accept it is up, because I think if you do not accept it is up because, if you do not accept it is up, I think what we heard earlier is a degree of complacency about the problem we face in London.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, I really cannot.

Len Duvall (AM): Is knife crime up? Is knife crime up among young people? Yes or no?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I really cannot accept what you just said about complacency. I really think that we have done --

Len Duvall (AM): Is knife crime up among young people? Yes or no?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do not have that figure before me, but what I can tell you is that deaths --

Len Duvall (AM): Your figures that you provided me, I agree with James Cleverly, figures cannot be touched. The facts stick to this. It is 23% up.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Do not forget --

Len Duvall (AM): It is up and you should know this, Mr Mayor. You should know this, Mr Mayor, when you are talking about this issue.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, can I help you.

Len Duvall (AM): Can I just now tell you, Mr Mayor, as I move on to my other questions if you are not going to answer that one --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I would be very happy to answer that question, but you are bullocking on.

Len Duvall (AM): No, you are not prepared to answer it, because I did say, I think, 'Is it yes or no?' and you do not seem to have those figures. I had the drift that you could not answer it. I am surprised you could not answer it.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Would you like me to answer your question?

Len Duvall (AM): Knife crime with young people, is it up? Yes or no?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I said just now, very laboriously to James, there has been a significant reduction in deaths of young people from knife crime.

Len Duvall (AM): That is not the question I am asking.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is to be applauded. Insofar as there may be an increase in knife crime, that is because when you take a knife off a person on the street in order to prevent a murder from taking place it is recorded as a crime. That statistical paradox needs to be understood.

Len Duvall (AM): Knife crime used to injure is also going up, Mr Mayor. I think you need to check your figures on that. Young victims --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is not true. That is not true.

Len Duvall (AM): It is true. Figures you have supplied me, that is what they say. Knife used to injure is going up. Youth murder rate, can I just clarify, 2008-09, on your watch, 29 young victims of murder, 2009-10, 16 young victims of murder, 2010-11 In 2010-11: 26 young victims of murder. Some of those will be gang-related.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is not correct.

Len Duvall (AM): Some of them will be gang-related. Mr Mayor, listen to this. Chair, I am very conscious of what you said earlier on but I think this is very important when we talk about these issues. You said no work was going on. There was actually some very good work done amongst the boroughs and amongst local borough police services in responding to the issue.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, I did respond to that.

Len Duvall (AM): No, you did not. I heard you correctly. Fine, you want to be in denial about some of that work. I welcome your initiative. I am big enough to welcome that. You are not big enough to recognise what goes on. You said in 2007 -

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Hang on. I never denied there was work being done. Come on, Len. Even by your standards, come on.

Len Duvall (AM): In 2007, you said, 'One young life lost every fortnight. Gang violence is spreading across London. It cannot continue in 2008', but it did. We need to fund real solutions, we need more police on our streets and we need change. I will tell you the reality of your term in office here. In terms of serious youth violence the number of young knife crime victims has risen every year you have been in charge.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Nonsense.

Len Duvall (AM): Last year there were over 100 young victims of knife crime every single week. That is the reality and that is why you do not publish it on the website. That is why you choose your figures selectively about what we have. So we welcome your initiative in that and we fully support your gang initiatives, as we have supported your other efforts to reduce knife crime.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Good.

Len Duvall (AM): What we do not support, Mr Mayor, is you misleading people with statistics and with talking up issues when it is not talking up. With what we are being left here, you should be ashamed of your key pledge that you came in on that election that you have not fulfilled and have belatedly come up with a taskforce. The reality in terms of what we are facing here - and we need an honest debate about that - is less police on our streets, less actual police on our streets, a short-term fix from Government not sustainable, less police capacity and increased crime amongst our young people. When you accept that, then I think we can have an honest debate about the situation we face. Thank you.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Len, I think what you and I share is a passionate commitment to this issue. What I do not agree with you on is your representation of what has happened. There has been a substantial cut in the number of young people dying. There has been a reduction in youth violence and we have taken a huge number of knives off the streets. That is one of the reasons why knife crime figures themselves show, I think, a small increase. Overall, crime is down substantially. The murder rate is down very substantially and crime on public transport is down very substantially as well.

You are quite right in this. What we need to do, obviously, is to step it up. Nobody looking at the situation, as I said just now, in Westminster or other parts of London could doubt that there is a continuing issue with gang crime. It needs to be dealt with at all levels. We need more police officers out there and you are absolutely right to say that. We also need to intervene in the lives of these young people in such a way as to give them positive alternatives to gangs.