Knife Crime

MQT on 2018-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2018
Question By: 
Shaun Bailey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Are you doing enough to reduce knife crime?


Answer for Knife Crime

Answer for Knife Crime

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Every life lost to violence is a tragedy, especially when it is the life of a young person.  Every single death is one too many.  We have seen a worrying rise in this violence across England and Wales.  Sadly, the tragic events in London on New Year’s Eve were not isolated.  The first week of January also saw horrific knife attacks in Bristol, Sheffield, Oxford and Birmingham.  Unfortunately, this is not new.  Between 2014 and 2015, knife crime in London rose by 5%.  In 2016, knife crime across England and Wales rose by 14% and by 11% in London.  I am determined to keep doing everything in my power to rise to the challenge of tackling knife crime in London.


The Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) targeted operation to prevent knife crime, Operation Sceptre, ran throughout the last year with monthly operations.  This operation uses a range of tactics such as weapon sweeps, intelligence-led hotspot patrols, test purchases and proactive operations to target repeat knife crime offenders.  In November and December [2017], the MPS ran Operation Winter Nights with tough measures to tackle violent crime.  It made more than 900 arrests and took more than 350 weapons off London’s streets, including 278 knives and 20 firearms.  The MPS Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis], Cressida Dick CBE QPM, and I agree that the MPS must continue to step up this fight against violent crime.  The increased police operations mean you should expect to see an increase in targeted, intelligence-led, stop-and-search.  Last year saw the biggest rollout of body-worn video anywhere in the world here in London.  This is a game changer for police accountability, and should give confidence that stop-and-search is being used proportionately.


However, police will never be able to tackle crime on their own.  That is why my Knife Crime Strategy makes sure we use all the powers available at City Hall, along with our partners and communities, to tackle this hugely complex and damaging issue.  The Strategy - drawn up after consultation with community groups, experts, families, the police and other key partners - is made up of a wide range of both public health and criminal justice approaches, which are already underway.  These include £1.4 million for services within health settings to support young victims of knife crime, extending the provision of youth workers in accident and emergency (A&E) departments to help steer those involved in knife crime away from violence, offering all schools a knife wand and a School Safety Officer, hosting an education summit and working with schools on anti-knife crime toolkits, and an extra £625,000 for knife and gang crime projects, taking total spending to £7 million. I also launched the London Needs You Alive campaign in November [2017] using influencers who resonate with young Londoners at risk of getting caught up in knife crime.


We know that in order to solve the issues of knife crime, we need a range of measures.  That is why I am coupling a tough policing response with a range of health and criminal justice interventions to divert people away and we are making a real difference on the streets of London.  This includes work with mental health providers and young people involved in knife crime to address the root causes and strengthen and empower communities to make a difference.

At the same time as a £1 billion cut to the MPS budget, Government cuts to council budgets have led to more than 30 youth centres closing since 2011, a real-terms cut of £99 million for London’s schools in 2018/19, and children’s services facing a funding gap of at least £2 billion by 2020.  I was able to announce yesterday an additional £40 million of funding to our police.  £15 million of this will be used to boost police resources to help officers tackle knife crime.


As a city, Chair, we are united in our quest to be tough on violent crime and its causes, but we need the Government to step up as well.



Shaun Bailey AM:  Thank you for that answer. Mr Mayor.  Any additional funds to combat knife crime in London are welcome, but why has it taken 18 months for you to act decisively on knife crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It has not, Chair.  The police have been acting for the last few years.  The Knife Crime Strategy we worked on was produced after consultation with experts, bereaved families, youth workers and others in the field.  We would have been criticised, I can assure you, if we had produced the Knife Crime Strategy without consulting experts.  We have consulted experts and the Knife Crime Strategy is a comprehensive plan to address the increase in knife crime.


Shaun Bailey AM:  After six months, do you believe the Knife Crime Strategy has worked?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is making a big difference, absolutely, in the context of the other cuts we have talked about, but some of the things we are doing in the Knife Crime Strategy are starting to make a difference.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Do you think your Knife Crime Strategy is focusing on things that will stem the flow right now - we have had a very significant bump under your mayoralty - and will address the long-term trend of growing ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  By itself, no.  The Knife Crime Strategy by itself will not solve the issue of knife crime.  We need a joined-up approach from the Government, from councils, from the police, from those in the public sector whose support we need.  We need to have an enforcement strategy and the police are working incredibly hard, notwithstanding the huge cuts they are facing, but also a health strategy to prevent young people carrying a knife in the first place.


Look, the police can address and stop those carrying knives, but we want to stop young people carrying knives in the first place. That means a comprehensive approach.


Shaun Bailey AM:  I agree, but, of course, in 2013 there were 29,700-odd police officers.  You have just over 30,000 police officers and we still seem to have no effect on knife crime.  Under your watch, what differently is being done by police now, bearing in mind you have more officers than they did then and they had less knife crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me deal with this misinformation.  I have looked at what has worked in the past and what has worked around the world.  I have looked at what happened in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in London.  We had a Government that was supportive.  We had more than £1 billion more money in the MPS, more police officers and more community support officers.  We had a Government invested in the Tackling Gangs Action Programme.  £1.5 million was given by the previous Government to fund national programmes aimed at reducing youth violence, particularly gang-related offences.  The previous Government pulled together a central multidisciplinary team of practitioners and high-visibility police in the night-time economy.  It gave additional funding to the British Transport Police for search arches.  It established a mediation and transformation service in London.  It helped pay for the mentoring and short-term accommodation for young people managed within multiagency public protection arrangements (MAPPA).  It funded targeted civil injunctions.  That was just in 2008.  In 2009 and 2010, the previous Government ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  OK, Mayor ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, I am sorry.  The insinuation is that we are doing ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Sure, but that was all under your predecessor, Mayor ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The point I am making is that if we had half of the support given by the previous Government, we would do a lot better.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mayor Khan, let me make this quite clear to you.  This is not an attack.  We have had 85 young people die.  I am trying to help you understand that there are many people like me who have been youth workers who do not see a cohesive approach.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me address that, Chair.  What ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  That is why I am saying this.  I am asking you this question.  I am asking you a clear question.  What will be different under your approach to what went before to stem the flow?  We look at your Knife Crime Strategy and I do not see a cohesive approach.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is a speech followed by a question, but I will wait for the speech to end, Chair.


Gareth Bacon AM:  Just answer the question.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Just answer the question, Mayor.  It is fine.  What is going to be different?  Yes, there is a question.  What is going to be different?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I was unclear whether Gareth [Bacon AM] was heckling you or heckling me.


Shaun Bailey AM:  He is heckling me.  It is OK.  You can relax.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The big difference we have this time, Chair, is a Government that does not seem to be taking action to stem the flow, to use the words used by Assembly Member Bailey, that we are talking about.  I have given you just some examples of the help that the Government was giving the previous Mayor in 2008.  In 2009/10, the previous Government had a Tackling Knives Action Programme and a Serious Youth Violence Action Programme, and local authorities had the funding to do this stuff, like Hackney.  In Hackney, because of more funding in 2009/10, the police and the Council started working on developing a multiagency gangs unit with similar gangs diversion work being undertaken.


The cuts local authorities are facing, the cuts they are facing because of the Government and the cuts faced by youth services have an impact.  I know that it is not comfortable for Conservative politicians, but it is my job as the Mayor to let London know of the challenges we face.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mayor Khan, we are talking about your responsibilities.  Your predecessor was able to work with governments and make this happen.  You have a responsibility to do this.


Let us look at your Knife Crime Strategy.  You talk about intelligence-led stop-and-search.  What will be different?  How long have you been doing this intelligence-led strategy?  It has been ineffective up till now.  Your tactics have been ineffective.  You have more officers.  What will be materially different for Londoners going ahead, to protect their safety?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The problem is that the Assembly Member gives the impression of rising above party politics, but he is playing party politics.  Let me give you an example, just one.


Shaun Bailey AM:  You keep ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me give you one example of the hypocrisy in the question.  The Assembly Member is criticising intelligence-led stop-and-search ‑‑


Andrew Boff AM:  You are not you are analysing.  Chair, can you have the Mayor answer his question?


Shaun Bailey AM:  I have not criticised intelligence-led stop-and-search.  I have asked you what is different.  I am asking you about your responsibilities, not the Government’s.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am sorry, Chair.  This is a separate question.


Shaun Bailey AM:  What are you doing?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The question was based on a premise of criticism of intelligence-led stop-and-search.


Shaun Bailey AM:  I may.  I may not.  I have not got there.  I asked you what would be different using your system of intelligence-led stop-and-search as opposed to the one you were using beforehand.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  No, we do not want this table tennis.  What is happening here is that the Assembly Member has simply asked you what is different now in relation to your Strategy.  That is the answer he is seeking.  Both of you seem to be going off on one on this one and it seems to be a very simple question.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am sorry, Deputy Chairman, if he did not hear my previous answer but one, which was this.  I have published a comprehensive knife action plan after consulting with Londoners, experts, bereaved families, the police and those at the coalface.  One of the things I am trying to explain to the Assembly Member is that the plan is being executed in the context of massive cuts, unprecedented in the MPS and unprecedented in the local authorities.  It is in the context of those cuts that we are doing all that we can to address the evil of knife crime.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Two things.  You have more officers.  That is a fact.  I am asking you.  Let me give you this.  Only 15 ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is not a fact, but heaven forbid we have facts at the Assembly when asked by Tory Members.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Let us talk about your approach, then.  If only 15% of stop-and-searches are about knife crime.  Are you looking to change that?  60% of stop-and-searches are about drug offences?  Which one do we have a problem with in London here today?  Which is the pressing priority for you?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Now we are in danger of the Assembly Member suggesting that the police stop without reasonable suspicion and that would be wrong.


Shaun Bailey AM:  No, I did not say anything at all.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The police will stop and search somebody if they have a reasonable suspicion that somebody has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime.  It is a fact that the biggest reason police officers have for stop-and-searches is because they suspect somebody is carrying drugs or is involved in drug activity.  If the Assembly Member is saying we should return to the ‘suspected person’ (sus) laws, I disagree with him.  I do not want to see police officers swamping communities without reasonable suspicion.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Hold on.  Hold, Mr Mayor.  Excuse me.  I said nothing of the kind.  Do not try to put words in my mouth.  I am asking you.  What are you going to do with your stop-and-search strategy - and you announced extra stop-and-search around knife crime - what is going to be different?  Are you going to ask the police to do more stop-and-searches around knife crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  As I explained in my first answer to the question, there is going to be increased police activity, and some of the money I have announced this week, £15 million of the £49 million, will support some of the increased police activity.  There are a number of things the police will be doing, including weapon sweeps.  I will go back to my answer because, clearly, the Assembly Member did not hear it.  That will include weapon sweeps carried out by the police, which are really important.  That will include test purchases ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mayor, we are talking about stop-and-search and knife crime here.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me answer the question.  You have interrupted me.  Let me answer the question.  That will include a range of tactics, Chair - weapon sweeps, intelligence-led hotspot patrols, test purchases and proactive operations - to target repeat knife crime offenders.  Stop-and-search target-led is one of the approaches used by the police.  Because there are increased operations, you can assume there will be increased target-led stop-and-search.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, can you guarantee young black men in London will not be targeted excessively by the police?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The police will target known knife offenders.  The police will target those communities where there is high knife crime.  Six out of ten victims of knife crime deaths are young black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) Londoners.  What these communities are saying to me and to the Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis] is that they want an increased police presence in our communities, they want their youngsters to be safe, and they want those people carrying knives to have those knives taken away from them.  The police response will be very simple.  There will be real intelligence, they will be geographically focused, and they will be performed professionally with the outcome of police targeting and arresting offenders, weapons taken off our streets, and stopping these attacks happening.  I am sorry you do not agree with that approach.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, I am asking you for a guarantee that young black men will not be excessively targeted by stop-and-search.  They were six times more likely to be stopped and now that has risen to eight times more likely under your watch.  Are you going to do something about that?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me give you an example, Chair, of where the Assembly Member is having selective amnesia.  The former special adviser to David Cameron [former Prime Minister] has said in an article entitled “Bailey argues for yes to change in rules to increase stop-and-search”:


“The real issue about stop and search is training the police to do it better and ensure that they stop the right people ... A lot of politicians and campaigners complain about stop-and-search, but I think the public has a different view because of the amount of knife crime.”


We are following the advice given by the special adviser to David Cameron in a previous life.  I am sorry he has changed his views.


Shaun Bailey AM:  No, you are not, Mayor, because I actually asked you if you are going to guarantee young black Londoners that they will not be targeted.  Under your current system, that seems to be the case.  That article argues my point.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  You can say yes or no, Mr Mayor.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  There is a big difference.  The big difference between the policy articulated by the special adviser to David Cameron and me is that we have body-worn video.  Body-worn video is the game changer because body-worn video gives confidence to the police and to the public about police accountability.  Whereas in the past some people were advocates ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Please ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ of industrial-scale mass stop-and-search, I am saying: target-led, intelligence-based with the body-worn video.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, I pointed out to you that your target-led system has increased the amount of times that young black people are stopped with no real serious increase in detections or convictions.  I put it to you that it is your system that is failing.  I have asked you the question four times and you have not answered.  Do you want me to ask you one more time to give you an opportunity to actually answer the question?  Can you guarantee young black Londoners they will not be inadvertently excessively targeted under your new extra stop-and-search?


Jennette Arnold OBE AM:  That is ridiculous.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I want to reassure Londoners that there will be increased police activity to target knife crime and those carrying knives ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  You are not going to answer the question? 


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  We are not making any progress on this one.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Yes, it is a ridiculous question.


Andrew Boff AM:  It is embarrassing.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  Are you going to have a different question, Assembly Member Bailey?


Shaun Bailey AM:  I will take that as a no, Mayor.  Many of us are worried.  Many of us are worried that your stop-and-search will ‑‑


Keith Prince AM:  --given a chance and you blew it, mate.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mayor, I want to ask you another question ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, we cannot have a situation where the Assembly Member answers his own question.


Shaun Bailey AM:  You will not.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  He says you are not answering his question.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is for me.  The job of the Chair is to be impartial.  My job is to answer the questions.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  No, I am telling you what is happening.  He says you are not answering his question.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  As things currently stand, Chair, I am the Mayor, not you.  It is for me to answer the questions how I want to answer them.  What I am saying is this.  The public will see increased police activity in areas of high knife crime.  I am being heckled by the Tories because it is their cuts leading to the police doing their jobs--


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, could we move on?  Mr Mayor, can we move on?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  --they may not like it, but it is the truth.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  All right.  That will do.  Have you ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, can we move on?


Andrew Boff AM:  Is it all a game to you?


Shaun Bailey AM:  I have one more.  Can you give some details on what you intend to do with this extra money around stop-and-search - sorry, let me remove stop-and-search; we are not getting along on that - around targeting knife crime in London?  You have pledged some extra money, which is very welcome.  Can you give some details on what that looks like pertaining to knife crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yesterday I was able to announce £49 million of additional police resources.  Some of it will go towards filling the pay rise which the Home Secretary authorised for the police but, as is par for the course, did not fund it.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, that is not about knife crime.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Part of the funding I gave yesterday was in relation to £15 million for police operations.  Last year we saw a number of operations from the police: Operation Sceptre, Operation Venice and other operations.  The additional money I have given to the police will lead to more operations from the police.


I am sorry if the Assembly Member thinks the only tool in the toolkit is stop-and-search.  That shows a lack of understanding ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  No, I do not.  It is ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ of the amazing work the police do.  I have tried to explain, despite interruptions, some examples of the work the police do from weapon sweeps through to targeting known knife offenders and it includes intelligence-led stop-and-search.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, time is pressing.  You have been over that before to re‑announce things.  I want to know that you have a cohesive strategy.  When did you plan to put this extra money in?  Why did you wait so long?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The budget process takes place once a year, Chair, and what happens once a year is that we set our budgets.  The police statement took place before Christmas, shortly before our recess, one day before the draft budget was made.  It beggars believe that the Conservative Police Minister [Nick Hurd, Minister of State for Policing, Fire and Criminal Justice] does not realise when           we set our budgets ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Hold on.  What ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and so the Police Minister set his budget one day before our draft budget.  During the course of Christmas, my officers worked incredibly hard to see what that would mean for the police budget and for the rest of the Greater London Authority (GLA) budget.  I am able to announce this week, in advance of the hearing next week, what we are able to do in relation to the police ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and that includes the pay lift for the police of 2% and other issues as well.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Mr Mayor, you sat in front of a Budget [and Performance] Committee yourself for over three hours and never mentioned this extra money once for knife crime.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I was there and you were not.  Let me tell you what I did say.   I said to the Budget and Performance Committee that the officers are looking at the calculations to see what we can do with the additional monies I am going to raise from council tax - £12 on the police precept and an increase of 2.99% on the non-police precept - to be used to help the fire service and the police.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Again, Mr Mayor, the question is on knife crime ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Look, it is a basic rule: do your homework before you ask the questions.


Shaun Bailey AM:  I am doing my homework.  You are not answering the questions.  Abusing me does not make you right.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I was there and you were not.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Abusing me does not save Londoners.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Listen, if you think ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  It does not.  This is actually about life and death and so you waving your hands at me does not save --


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Now we get the sanctimoniousness from this politician.


Andrew Boff AM:  Disgraceful.  Absolutely disgraceful.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Chair, I will leave it there.