Knife Crime with Injury

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Knife Crime with Injury in London is nearing the level it was when you were first elected. In your final year as Mayor what plans are you implementing to bring this down?


Answer for Knife Crime with Injury

Answer for Knife Crime with Injury

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, thank you.  Back to you, Joanne.  Yes, I am afraid you are not quite right in what you are saying.  We can never be complacent about this.  Any knife crime is a terrible thing and deaths from knife crime are appalling, but knife crime is down overall.  Knife crime with injury is down 12% since I was elected and overall knife crime last year is at its lowest for seven years.  Deaths are well down as well.

Yes, there are problems and there are challenges and the plans we are implementing to bring this down include weapon sweeps.  We have done a lot of them in the last nine months and we are very much supporting the approach of Sir Bernard Hogan‑Howe on stop-and-search.  As you know, he decreased the volume of stop-and-search very substantially and that was the right call, but it does have its place and it does have a deterrent effect.

Even more powerful as a deterrent effect, I hope, will be the enactment of ‘Enfield’s Law’ introduced by David Burrowes MP [MP for Enfield Southgate] and my former colleague, Nick de Bois MP [MP for Enfield North] that if you are caught with a knife for a second time, you will receive a custodial sentence.  I hope that will be very effective when you consider that similar measures for carriage of guns in London really did drive down possession of firearms.  I hope we will have that kind of success with knives.

Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  The figures I have are your own figures about knife crime with injury and that is what I want to concentrate on.  A particular concern is the fact that knife crime with injury, ie stabbings, is on the increase again.  It is particularly concerning is that over half of them are now on victims under the age of 25.  In that category of victims under 25, last year alone it increased by 23%.  Just to bring home the scale of this, if we take the month of June that has just gone, last month, six children under the age of 18 were victims of stabbing in London.  Two of those have died.  One is critically injured still; another seriously injured.  If I look at the ages of them, there is one 12‑year-old, one 13‑year-old and two 14‑year-olds.  The age of these victims appears to be getting younger.

I want to know what action you and the MPS are taking with regards to this.  I am particularly concerned that we have the summer months coming up and what are you doing about diversionary activities to make sure young people are actively engaged?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, OK.  I totally agree; it is absolutely sickening to hear about kids of that kind of age being involved in this sort of nightmare.  I repeat all my tedious but important points about how the overall levels are down but there is no question that there is a problem at the moment.

I have talked about it extensively to Sir Bernard Hogan‑Howe, to everybody involved in the mentoring side of things, to Ray Lewis [youth worker and former Deputy Mayor for Young People] and to everybody involved in the interventions with young people to see what we can do to work out what is going on with the gang strategy.  Possibly what happened was two to three years ago, if you remember, there was that big anti-gang launch.  We might be getting back to the stage where we need another one of them.  That did have a big effect on the gangs.

The choice has to be the same.  To the young gang members we say, “It is up to you.  If you are going to be involved in this kind of gang and this kind of knife crime, we are going to come down on you very hard, but we are simultaneously going to offer you routes out”, apprenticeships, jobs and all the things that really make a long-term difference to the self-esteem of these kids.  It is very sad to see this kind of problem in an environment where the London economy is growing so strongly and when, actually, you would hope that these kids would find other ways of feeling good about themselves than getting involved in this kind of disaster area.  It has to be a twin-track strategy.  We are getting on for another big anti-gang push.  The problem was dramatically suppressed.  The number of deaths is still down and that is good but what you say, Joanne, cannot be denied.  There are stupid, vicious stabbings going on of young kids in our city and it is absolutely intolerable.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.  I would personally like to thank Assembly Member McCartney for raising this because a number of these tragic incidents took place in my constituency and the corollary to this is that two 14‑year-olds have been charged.  Therefore, it is not just the injured; it is the perpetrators.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is terrible and every week I see the lists of the stabbings.  It is absolutely terrible.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Yes, it is tragic.