Topic: Knife crime

MQT on 2017-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2017
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


I congratulate the Mayor on the 'London Needs you Alive' Campaign.  However, the figures of murdered teenagers in London are already double last year. The victims and perpetrators are overwhelming from BAME backgrounds.  How is the Mayor specifically targeting this over represented group?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for Topic: Knife crime

Answer for Topic: Knife crime

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Every death on the streets of London is an utter tragedy.  I am deeply concerned about the rise in knife crime.  It is worrying to note that knife crime has been increasing in London every year since 2014 and is also increasing nationwide.  We must look to address this across the country. 


Our Knife Crime Strategy and public engagement campaign recognises and responds to the disproportionality that you are referring to.  We know that in London 77% of victims of knife crime are male and frequently aged less than 25 years of age.  We also know that almost half of all the victims of knife crime are from BAME backgrounds.  90% of offenders are male and of these 62% were from BAME backgrounds.  There have been 80 knife-related homicides between 1 January and 26 November this year.  Fifty of the victims were from a BAME background.  Those figures should shock us all. 


Our Knife Crime Strategy has been structured to provide targeted responses and interventions to support our most affected young people, locations and communities, including the prioritisation of boroughs for additional support and seed funding.  The police have regular operations targeting high knife crime areas to deter, prevent and detect crime using all the powers at their disposal, albeit with limited resources due to Government cuts.  I am supporting the delivery of community-led solutions and delivery of interventions at critical points to offer real opportunities to exit offending behaviour as well as coming down hard on those who habitually carry knives.  Our Knife Crime Strategy commits to enabling and empowering communities who are most affected by knife crime through a number of interventions, which includes a £225,000 seed fund to work with young people within our priority knife crime boroughs. 


The London Needs You Alive knife crime campaign is a targeted campaign aimed at young people, communities and locations where knife crime is most prevalent.  It is supported by influencers who we know have a large following from our young people who are most likely to be affected by knife crime.  The campaign is also being supported by an anti-knife crime toolkit that provides prevention materials for all schools and community groups.  This will be available early next year.  This campaign is just one small element of our response to knife crime.  I already fund a number of additional innovative programmes aimed at preventing and dealing with knife crime, including a £2 million gang prevention programme, a three-year youth intervention service in London’s four major trauma centres, and £1.5 million of funding is also allocated to the London Gang Exit Programme to provide support to 300 gang members and those exploited by gangs.  We must not, and we will not, give up on our valuable young people.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM:  Thank you for that, Mayor, and thank you for reminding us of what is in the Knife Crime Strategy.  I acknowledge that it was launched in June 2017 so I am not going to ask questions about that. 


I want to look at the whole issue relating to the fact that the victims and perpetrators are overwhelmingly from BAME backgrounds.  That is something we must speak out about.  Looking at the rest of the UK demographic victims’ profile I would say it is reasonable to argue that the difference cannot be explained away by socioeconomic class, which tends to go with BAME populations.  You could argue that there are plenty of working class white young men in London who are not being stabbed to death at anything like the rate of their black peers.  Would you agree with me that alongside all the work you are doing - and I know we are always asking for more - that maybe there is a piece of academic work or a piece of commissioning work that you need to do so we can understand what is driving the disproportionality and how we can stop it?  Will you consider that?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  May I give you some news that you may know but will hopefully welcome?  The London Crime Prevention Panel will be meeting in January to discuss, under the Justice Matters Open Session, the issue of disproportionality.  Sophie Linden [Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime] and Matthew Ryder [QC, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement] will chair that session.  The bad news is that as far as victims of crime, as far as the stuff that David Lammy [The Rt Hon David Lammy MP for Tottenham] covered in his report and as far as vulnerability, there are too many Londoners from BAME backgrounds who are affected by this.  Therefore, part of what we have to do is to look at the research.  It is complicated.  It is not as simplistic as some people would lead us to believe.  You are right to warn me of falling into the ‘elephant trap’ of thinking there are simple explanations for this.  It is not simple, it is complicated.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM:  I would certainly like to know more about that event and, if possible, attend.  I know that there is cross-party agreement on this.  There is no difference and not any space between us and you on this one.


I am looking to see if I have time because I wanted to talk about young people of primary age.  At a recent hearing of the Home Affairs Select Committee the Commissioner of the MPS, Cressida Dick QPM said, “I think there is a need to do more preventative work in schools with younger people”.  Remind me, are you committed to ensuring that we go to primary schools?  For so many of these issues that are impacting on the older age group we are not dealing with the primary school age.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me tell you a story a School Safety Officer told me, Chair.  He went to a primary school and he asked year 6 pupils how many of them knew someone who carried a knife.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM:  They all said yes.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The number of hands that went up will shock some people.  These are primary school children.  You are right, this prevention work is important.  I must also point out to you that the Commissioner went on to say, during the Home Affairs Select Committee session, that if the cuts carry on her ability to do prevention work is reduced.  That is why you cannot disaggregate the link between resources, prevention work and keeping Londoners and others safe as well. 


Young people at an early stage need to understand that if you carry a knife you are less likely to be safe, more likely to be in danger, you are not cool, you do not earn respect and it is a foolish thing to do.  It needs parents, carers, big brothers and big sisters, teachers, faith leaders, police officers, politicians, those involved in the music industry and those involved in social media to all play a role in making sure we stop young people carrying knifes.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM:  Thank you.  It is a subject I will keep coming back about, not to be in conflict with anybody about it but so that we keep it at the top of the agenda in terms of what is happening in our city.  Thank you.