Metropolitan Police Gun Amnesty

MQT on 2014-12-17
Session date: 
December 17, 2014
Question By: 
James Cleverly
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Following the success of the Metropolitan Police's two week anti-gun "Amnesty", do you believe there is merit in staging such an operation at more regular intervals?


Answer for Metropolitan Police Gun Amnesty

Answer for Metropolitan Police Gun Amnesty

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  Thank you, James.  The amnesty was indeed successful and 370 guns were taken off the streets and 12,459 rounds of ammunition.  I am proud to say that gun crime is now at its lowest level since I became Mayor.  It has fallen by almost 14%.  Gun crime has fallen by 14% in the last year and that is a great achievement by the MPS.  It remains, however, a priority for us and we will work on whether we could have another amnesty of the kind that has worked so well.  We are considering the impact of this amnesty and whether to have another one and how soon. 


James Cleverly (AM):  Thank you for that, Mr Mayor, because I note with interest the very significant difference in the success of this gun amnesty compared with the one that was carried out six years ago when just 61 guns were handed in to the police.  I do not know all the details of that amnesty and I do not know all the details of this amnesty, but clearly something different happened this time round which made it significantly more successful.  I commend the police for whatever they did right and I am very keen that we capture the learning from this as soon as possible and question whether another gun amnesty in the relatively near future would be able to continue that trend.  Can you confirm that you will impress upon the police to make sure they do capture those lessons? 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, we will look at the results of this gun amnesty and obviously it has worked well.  Whether it would work well to have another one very soon I cannot answer, but clearly it has been a success.  With the first one in 2008 only 61 live firearms were retrieved and so it has obviously been much more successful than that amnesty. 


James Cleverly (AM):  I know thatthere is a very significant difference with a gun amnesty because obviously there are very few legitimate reasons for people to have a gun in their private possession, particularly carrying it in public.  I know there is a big difference between a gun amnesty and a knife amnesty but we have had knife amnesties in the past.  It was something which was done with great passion and alacrity early on in your mayoralty to try to get on top of the very significant problem we had in 2006/2007 when we had a lot of knife-related murders on the streets of London.  Might we consider another real push on knife crime? 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes. 


James Cleverly (AM):  In 2008 it was to get on top of the problem.  I would suggest that now it is to keep on top of the problem. 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am interested in that, James.  You will remember well the crackdown we had on knives with Operation Blunt 2 and the lifting of knives from the streets of London.  It was very significant and 11,000 knives were taken off Londoners in the course of that operation and we did have various amnesties.  Knife crime remains low and has come down a long way.


I will consider it.  Obviously one of the issues is people just start handing in kitchen knives and a knife is obviously lethal depending on how you use it whereas an unlicensed gun is clearly a criminal weapon.  We will look at it.  You have to be careful that it would genuinely serve the public.  We have knife bins and they work well and they have a place.  They are in neighbourhoods that have suffered from gang crime and knife crime; we have them.  I will look at it.  You can never be complacent about this thing.  If a knife amnesty would be useful, I will discuss it with the Commissioner. 


James Cleverly (AM):  As you know, this is a subject I have felt - and indeed still do feel - very passionately about.  I am very proud of the work that we have done under your mayoralty in driving down knife crime from the terrible levels that we saw in 2007 and the beginning of 2008.  The real success story with Blunt 2 was the carrot-and-stick approach.  The knife amnesty gave a very clear message to young people in particular who felt that carrying a knife was something that would keep them safe.  They had a way out, they could get rid of the knife and they could step away from that very destructive course of action and not get involved in knife crime. 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes. 


James Cleverly (AM):  Also, at the same time, through the knife arches and the wands, if you were going to carry a knife, you would get caught and you would get prosecuted.  That approach was very good. 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, I want to stress that we remain very vigilant about people carrying knives and going equipped.  It is an offence and if you are caught you will be very severely punished and people who are caught on multiple occasions can face very big sanctions.  I am certainly in favour of the proposals that Nick de Bois [MP for Enfield North] and others are supporting in the House of Commons to be very, very draconian about knife crime.  You have seen the results in the crime figures.  Whether we need to add a specific knife amnesty to that panoply of measures I am not certain but I will discuss it with the Commissioner. 


James Cleverly (AM):  Thank you.