Knife crime in London (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
June 3, 2015
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)


Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  I am very glad to hear that neither of you feels complacent about this issue.  There were 188 knife crime injuries in the two boroughs that I represent [Lambeth and Southwark] in the last year and so clearly something is happening.  There was an increase in the injuries.


With the end of the old knife crime strategy, we all are looking for an initiative and a new pressure and a refreshing of the pressure on knife crime.  The Commissioner talked at the Police and Crime Committee about the impact of drugs and alcohol and you mentioned it this morning, but there is a broader issue about youth culture and about gang crime.  What we need is an assurance that there will be extra pressure applied to try to keep this problem down and actually to tackle it.  If it is left, it does seem to rise.  Commissioner, I do not know if you would like to --

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Knife crime in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Knife crime in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I totally agree with that.  One thing that obviously we are continuing to push for is that possession of a knife for a second time will automatically face a custodial sentence.  That is a campaign that was led by Nick de Bois, the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Enfield North, and I am sure he has support from many representatives in this Assembly.  That is something we want to see enacted in Parliament.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  It is certainly something I would support because I agree with what you have said.  If we take our eye off this ball, it will get more serious.  It is already serious at 1,000 people per month.  In the 32 boroughs; it is about one per day per borough and any one of those is a bad thing.  Knife crime can lead to murder and these are serious things.  We need to send that message out through education.  There are other things.  Why are people carrying knives?  Then we have to enforce the law as well. 


As the Mayor said, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 in section 28 legislated for the introduction of a mandatory custodial sentence for a repeat possession offence with a six-month prison sentence for an offender caught with a knife for a second time.  I believe it is over the age of 18 and so this is not for under-18s.  However, now, while it is on the statute book, the enactment of section 28 has not taken place and there is no enactment date set yet.  Of course to some extent this was captured by the election, but certainly we have made our case to the Government that this should be enacted.  One thing that this Assembly may want to consider is that what affects this city does not affect the rest of the country, but it is an issue here and it has been for a long time.  We suppress it and we reduce it, but it always has the possibility of rising back.


I would argue that this would be a good power to enact and particularly to raise the issue that when we saw the minimum sentence arrive for firearms offences - anybody possessing a firearm will go to prison for a minimum of five years - it saw a reduction in the number of firearms offences.  There is no clarity about the sentencing in this very serious area.


Therefore, I agree with you about the seriousness of it for the reason it was raised, but we have to put a lot of pressure on the Government to see whether or not it is prepared to support it by a legislative change.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Would we hope to see a much broader-ranging anti-knife crime strategy coming forward where we are not looking just at one or two specific issues but across the board at what the issues are?  I appreciate that a focus on alcohol and drugs is very important, but there is more to this issue than that and, indeed, there is more to it than enforcement as well.  What we need, as Caroline [Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM] said, is a broad refreshing of an attack on this issue.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, I am with you.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  We would welcome anybody who is prepared to support that.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  We could all get behind it, basically.  We could all then get behind it.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Look, it is important in this conversation just to remember that recorded victims of knife crime, in spite of the problems that we are seeing at the moment, are still 30% down on 2012.  Total knife crime offences are down 12% over the last three years.  Therefore, we have had appreciable success.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Yes.  Do not let it slip away.  That is the message.


Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  What the Commissioner has told me is that he wants to keep going and step up some of the tools that you will be familiar with for suppressing this type of crime that the Commissioner launched in November 2011.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  That is right.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Thank you.