The London Knife Crime Strategy 2017

Reference code: 
PCD 225
Date signed: 
11 July 2017
Authorisation name: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor made a commitment in both his manifesto and in the Police and Crime Plan (published March 2017) to develop and deliver a tough knife crime strategy. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime has met with key stakeholders, young people and partners to discuss, workshop and agree commitments which have informed the development of the knife crime strategy.

The launch of this strategy follows an increase in knife crime offences in London - In the 12 months to March 2017, over 12,000 knife crime offences were recorded in London. This is equivalent to an increase of almost 24 per cent compared to the year before. Whilst there is not currently one agreed explanation as to what may be causing this, there is a good understanding of who our victims and offenders are, the key drivers of knife crime and our most challenging locations, which has been developed following analysis and an extensive consultation programme.

The Strategy will be launched on the 27 June 2017 and will be supported initially by a’12 weeks partner response’ action plan for the three months following the Strategy launch and then subsequently by a multi-agency partnership delivery plan. The Mayor is asked to approve the launch and publication of the knife crime strategy, including the budget which supports delivery. 

£625,000 of funding has been dedicated to the delivery of new Knife Crime Strategy Commitments in the first year, 2017/18. There is an additional £6,769,193 funding which is dedicated to existing commitments that are incorporated within the Knife Crime Strategy such as Gang Exit (£500,000), Major Trauma Centres (£444,615), Information Sharing to Tackle Violence (£168,000), Victim Support  Children & Young people (£360,861), and youth projects under the London  Crime Prevention Fund (£5,325,717). 

This decision is seeking the sign off for the £625,000 required to fund the new Knife Crime Strategy Commitments in FY 2017/18.


The Mayor is asked to:
•    Approve the allocation of £625,000 for FY 2017/18 to support the implementation and delivery of the strategy action plan and key commitments detailed within the strategy;
•    The delegation of responsibility for the finalisation of planning and contractual/grant arrangements, including relevant terms and the signing of agreements, to the Chief Executive Officer for activities up to the value of £499,000 in accordance with MOPAC’s Scheme of Delegation.

Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)

1.    Introduction and background

1.1    To tackle the increasing levels of knife crime on our streets the Mayor committed to produce and implement a new Knife Crime Strategy for London that will bring together police, partners and communities to take tough action against knife crime, reduce the availability of weapons and improve the services available to victims of knife crime and their families. This has also been reflected in the Police and Crime Plan (2017-21). 

1.2    Throughout the last 12 months MOPAC have been talking and consulting with partners, stakeholders and the public – in particular young people - ahead of drafting this strategy to ensure it addresses the major concerns across the capital. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime has led this informal consultation via individual meetings with key campaigners, stakeholders and young people through our regular programme boards alongside wider stakeholder events as listed below. 

1.3    The MPS have also developed an internal knife crime activity framework which outlines its operational activity. This will sit alongside its programme of work to tackle guns, and will support the MOPAC knife crime strategy which will aim to bring together police, partners and communities to take tough action against knife crime, reduce the availability of weapons and improve the services available to victims of knife crime and their families. 

1.4    The Knife Crime Challenge in London

Category FY 2014/15 FY 2015-16 FY 2016-17 Change vs. 14/15 % Change vs. 14/15 Change vs. 15/16 % Change vs 15/16
Knife Crime                9,691                9,744              12,122   2,431 25%   2,378 24%
Knife Crime With Injury                3,581                3,663                4,428      847 24%      765 21%
Knife Crime Injury Victims under 25 (non DA)                1,632                1,626                2,025      393 24%      399 25%
Knife Possession                2,956                3,277                4,152   1,196 40%      875 27%
  • Total knife crime has increased by 24% in the last year (an increase of 2,332 on 2015/16);
  • There has been an increase in the number of victims of Knife crime resulting in injury of 20.5% (752 more victims);
  • Of the 4,415 total victims of knife crime with injury, 2,028 were aged under 25 and were not domestic abuse related. This is equivalent to 46% of all victims of knife crime with injury. The number of victims of knife crime with injury under 25 had also increased by 24.7% compared to the preceding year; 
  • When considering the rate of youth related knife crime with injury compared to the population estimate, there is less than one victim per 1,000 population of 1-24 year olds in London. This varies by borough, with Lambeth recording the highest rate relative to population of 1.5 per 1,000 youth population in the last year;
  •  Possession offending has also increased, with 4,021 recorded in the last year. This is an increase of 746 representing 22.8% more than in the preceding year.
  • There were a total of 105 victims of homicide across London in 2016/17/. 56 of these were victims of fatal knife crime, with 49 of these victims of non-domestic abuse related offences;
  • Of the victims of non-domestic abuse knife homicide, almost all were male. Just over half of these were aged under 25 years of age.

1.5    Having already had feedback from the wider public via Talk London and through the PCP Consultation, the knife crime engagement concentrated on convening delivery partners, stakeholders and young people. Our aim was to “stress test” current thinking on direction and vision within the strategy, and to ensure that delivery partners agreed their part in tackling knife crime. Consultation mechanisms included:

  • Workshops – We held three workshops – one on prevention, one on intervention and one on enforcement – and asked stakeholders and delivery partners to come and feed into each topic. 
  • Focused roundtables – Additionally, we had several roundtables with our gangs panel, schools, young people under the care of the criminal justice service and within our secure estates; health professionals, voluntary and community sector. 
  • Youth engagement – We have had a particular focus on ensuring the strategy is informed by the ‘youth voice’ as such we hosted specific events to target young people, including a youth roundtable event which included 35 young people, youth ambassadors, police cadets, youth mentors from the GLA peer outreach team, Redthread service users and MPS Youth Council members. We hosted an interactive Big Talk event was hosted to engage with up to 40 young people from our communities across London. We surveyed 700 16-24 year olds in the Talk London survey in the development of the Police and Crime Plan and have conducted face to face interviews with over 400 young people from our most disproportionately affected boroughs with regards to knife crime and stop and search. Additionally we have consulted young people both within our secure estate, HMP & YOI ISIS, and young people under the supervision of the Youth Offending Service (YOS).
  • Community engagement - This is where we met and shared the key points of the strategy with key stakeholders within our community including the stop and search network and SNBs. This is also where the Deputy Mayor has individually met with Borough Leaders and Commanders of our most affected boroughs, community champions/leaders and charitable trusts/organisations on an ad-hoc basis to discuss the proposed strategy. This also includes a meeting with the Police and Crime Committee. MOPAC officials have also consulted directly with stakeholders within the licencing/business sector including stakeholders from KFC, McDonalds, Trading Standards and Google.
  • Participants in the consultation included: The MPS, The Crown Prosecution Service, HM Prisons and Probation Service, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, the London Community Rehabilitation Company, London Councils, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, NHS England, the London Fire Brigade, Victim Support, London Heads of Community Safety, Trading Standards, the Youth Justice Board, London Head teachers, Violence Commission, Ofsted, the London Assembly, the London Stop and Search Community Network, Stopwatch, Safer Neighbourhood Boards, City Safe Havens, New Beginnings, Ganglines, Chance UK, Growing Against Violence, London Youth, the Godwin Lawson Foundation, Groundwork, St Matthew’s Project Brixton, Hackney Quest, Bankside Residents Forum, Football Beyond Borders, Coin Street Community Builders, the Crib, Barnardos, Leaders in Community, Rugby Portobello Trust, the Safer London Foundation, the Oasis Trust, Gang Conflict Mediation, Young Lambeth, Gascoyne and Morningside Youth Clubs,  the Damilola Taylor Foundation, South Central Youth, Epic Learning, Edukit, Educational Excellence, Leap Confronting Conflict, Redthread, St. Giles Trust, Catch 22, LVSC, Box Up Crime, the SOLA Foundation, the Prince’s Trust, Hyde Housing, Spark 2 Life, Hoxton Hall, Misunderstood, Lewisham Council, Transport for London, Southwark Council,  Camden Council, Shout Out UK, Kiyan Prince Foundation, Ofsted, Ben Kinsella Trust, ChildLine, Word 4 Weapons, Josh Hanson Trust, MAC UK, Parent Voice, Evolve Housing, Fight for Peace, The Flavasum Trust,   
  • Rise Empowerment, Cherry Tree Foundation, Working Chance, Gangs Line, Mother, Jags Foundation, Anti Knife UK, Inspired Futures, Lambeth Council, Enfield County School.

1.6    Following from the data picture and the consultation, the strategy is therefore focussed primarily on knife crime with injury, under 25 year olds and non-domestic abuse related (KIV <25, non-DA).

1.7    Success will be measured by a reduction in knife crime, with a focus on KIV <25, non-DA. Broader measures are outlined here.

2 Issues for consideration

2.1    There are a number of policy considerations following from the data analysis and consultation which have informed the strategy. 2    Issues for consideration

2.2    The knife crime strategy will address inequality by standing with communities against knife crime and supporting victims while protecting young people and offering early intervention and ways out of crime. These targeted interventions will benefit BAME communities and those most affected by knife crime. Knife crime disproportionately affects some specific groups of Londoners and targeting lawbreakers may in turn give rise to some unavoidable disproportionality in enforcement. There may also be some similar effect from more effective sentencing; however better sentencing decisions and improved rehabilitation may have a positive effect on many offenders. In addition, the Strategy aims to reduce the number of victims of knife crime with injury and increase support to them – again, young BAME males are disproportionately represented in this cohort.

2.3    The strategy acknowledges that there are a number of other subsets of knife related offending such as Domestic Abuse knife offences, the link with women and girls / and Child Sexual Exploitation offences and offences linked to the late night economy. These are referenced within the strategy with further detail on how MOPAC with ensure these areas also receive the required focus and resource allocation. 

2.4    The strategy is specifically focussed on knife related offending this is despite a recorded increase in gun discharges. This decision was made because currently knife crime, whilst not a volume crime, have significantly higher volumes than gun crime. We are also aware of the use of acid in some areas which has been identified as increasing. This is something we will continue to monitor and review alongside the PCP annual review. 

2.5    Historically knife related offending has been viewed as a ‘gang issue’. Recent data suggests that the majority of knife crime is not gang-related. Gang-flagged crime accounted for 5% of all knife crime with injury during 2016 – down from almost 9% in the preceding year.  However, gang-related knife crimes are usually of a more violent nature to other knife related offending and young black and ethnic minority males are disproportionately affected by more serious and violent forms of knife crime, where an injury has resulted from the offence. 

2.6    Statistics show that the victims of serious, gang motivated knife crime are predominantly male (92 per cent), young (80 per cent under 25 years of age) and from a BAME background. As such, when considering our responses to knife crime in London, this strategy responds to the fact that knife crime is much more than just gang related activity; focusing exclusively on gangs is not going to solve or adequately impact on our knife crime challenges in London. This Strategy also recognises that there has been a shift in offending patterns with a renewed emergence of group related offending, a group of individuals who cannot be classified as being part of an organised group or gang. These changing trends in offending behaviour and patterns will continue to be monitored and responded to, whilst never losing sight of gang related offending which continues to be a key priority.

3    Financial Comments

3.1    £625,000 of funding has been dedicated to the delivery of new Knife Crime Strategy Commitments in the first year, 2017/18. There is an additional £6,769,193 funding which is dedicated to existing commitments that are incorporated within the Knife Crime Strategy such as Gang Exit (£500,000), Major Trauma Centres (£444,615), Information Sharing to Tackle Violence (£168,000), Victim Support Children & Young people (£360,861), and youth projects under the London  Crime Prevention Fund (£5,295,717). 

3.2     This PCD therefore requests the approval of £625,000 additional MOPAC funding to support the delivery of the strategy commitments, with a particular focus on funding for community initiatives, media campaign and associated materials, and partnership activities.  

4    Legal Comments

4.1    Decision form PCD 168: Issuing the Police and Crime Plan 2017 – 2021 approved the Police and Crime Plan including all of its commitments which included the implantation of a tough knife crime strategy. The legal comments in the aforementioned decision apply to this decision.

4.2    Under MOPAC’s Scheme of Consent and Delegation (the “Scheme”), the deputy mayor for policing and crime has delegated authority to approve expenditure, requirement, procurements and other matters for a value for £500,000 and above.  This decision form requests a delegation to the chief executive of authority to make all future decisions in relation to the knife crime strategy.  Such a delegation to the chief executive is in accordance with the general power of delegation in paragraph 1.7 of the Scheme.

5    Equality Comments

5.1    MOPAC is required to comply with the public sector equality duty set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010.  This requires MOPAC to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations by reference to people with protected characteristics.  The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The equality comments in the aforementioned decision PCD 168: Issuing the Police and Crime Plan 2017 – 2021 apply to this decision.

5.2    All providers who deliver or services under the auspices of the knife crime strategy will or already have been asked to provide details of their Equalities processes as part of their tender.

5.3    An Integrated Impact Assessment (IIA) for the knife crime strategy is attached in appendix C:

6    Background/supporting papers

APPENDIX A - Key strategy commitments
APPENDIX B - PCD 168: Issuing the Police and Crime Plan 2017 – 2021
APPENDIX C - Integrated Impact Assessment
APPENDIX D - The London Knife Crime Strategy
APPENDIX E - Knife Crime Data Profile


Key strategy commitments

This strategy encompasses prevention, intervention and enforcement and will provide targeted responses to address the key challenges which our communities, young people and stakeholders have expressed to us regarding knife crime. The strategy will drive forward a new and refreshed strategic focus on priority areas which will aim to provide demonstrable and long lasting impact for our most disproportionately affected communities and young people.

Knife crime is much more than just gang related activity. In 2016 just 2.4% of all knife crime was flagged by the MPS as gang related. Focusing exclusively on our gang matrixes or gang related offending will not solve or adequately impact on our knife crime challenges in London. The focus of the strategy will be on young Londoners under the age of 25 and on non-domestic abuse related knife crime. We will also provide enhanced targeted responses to our most disproportionally affected victims and offenders, young BAME males, and our most vulnerable locations, which sit within the top 10 most deprived wards in London. 

We are targeting lawbreakers by:
•    Ensuring that all Borough Commanders work with their Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) to have in place local knife crime plans that will drive activity using Borough resources and to ensure that focused work is undertaken with communities and partnerships to ensure a coordinated response.
•    Supporting the police in using all of their powers and increasing the frequency of Operation Sceptre weeks of action, providing concerted enforcement activity in knife crime hot spots, using tactics including visible patrolling; plain clothes officers; intelligence-led stop and search; and targeting known prolific knife offenders;
•    Establishing a specialist MPS team of 80 officers, plain clothes and uniform, to carry out targeted crime prevention and enforcement in knife crime hot spots;
•    Reviewing the MPS Gangs Matrix, which identifies the most violent gang members in London, and strengthen the identification of young people who are involved in serious violence, whether perpetrators or victims;
•    Continuing to support the delivery of training for police officers and the use of  intelligence-led use of stop and search which is responsive to the challenges on our streets, keeping people safe whilst also maintaining the trust and confidence of our communities;
•    Strengthening the work of the MPS Trident and Area Crime Command to identify and address issues of particular vulnerability amongst young Londoners, including work on ‘County Lines’ drug dealing, where vulnerable people are exploited by criminals to deliver drugs to and from other areas;
•    Working with the London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), National Probation Service (NPS), Youth Justice Board (YJB), Youth Offending Services (YOS), courts and others to develop a new, targeted community sentence requirement for those convicted of knife possession which offer support to the offender to exit offending behavior.
•    Making more use of electronic monitoring (where appropriate) and lobbying for GPS technology to be used on offenders serving community sentences, or released on license following a knife related offence;
•    Working with the Youth Justice Board to establish how many young people under the supervision of youth offending services in London are there as a result of an offence involving a weapon, and who might be attending the Knife Crime Prevention Programme, to establish how effective this programme is at addressing young people’s use of knives and if necessary, work with partners to replace it with something better.
•    Working with the MPS to ensure that simple police cautions are not considered suitable for knife crime possession offences, utilising instead conditional cautions. To support this, we will review the available enforcement measures. 
•    Pushing for  a commitment by all relevant Criminal Justice Service partners to ensure that on the day Pre-Sentence Reports (PSR’s) are completed for at least 90% of knife related offences which go through our courts;
•    Pushing for a commitment by all relevant Criminal Justice Service partners to ensure that Victim Personal Statements (VPS) are included for at least 90% of knife related offences which go through the courts;
•    Working with the Sentencing Council and National Police Chiefs Council to ensure appropriate sentences and sentence guidance for knife crime offences ;
•    Publishing data on the commission and sentencing of knife crime offences;

We are offering ways out of crime by:
•    Continuing and developing the work of the London Gang Exit Service to focus work on people involved in gangs who use weapons, including work to develop offenders’ skills to improve their employability and increase their access to job opportunities.
•    Extending the work of Project Chrysalis to include weapon related violence in HMP Isis and HMP YOI Feltham;
•    Working with MoJ and partners to use Chrysalis as a foundation to build a violence reduction programme for London’s secure estate; 
•    Supporting a trauma informed approach to our interventions when commissioning rehabilitation services. 
•    Supporting alignment with existing child and adolescent mental health services and work closely with the Greater London Authority and health partners  to jointly commission better provision and lobby for more powers and budget to do so from central government 
•    Building on the Government’s ‘Through the Gate’ reforms; we will look to explore opportunities presented by devolution to develop a ‘prison pathfinder’ to better reintegrate offenders back into society.
We are keeping deadly weapons off our streets by: 

•    Reviewing the adoption of the Responsible Retailers Agreement by London businesses, and reconvening national Trading Standards,  local Business Crime Reduction Partnerships and regional partners and agencies to continue partnership working and information sharing on best practice on tackling the challenges around both online and instore illegal sale of knives at a pan-London level;
•    Working to ensure knife retailers and their couriers/delivery companies have access to training and guidance on the law on underage sales and target enforcement efforts against those who choose not to participate in this training;
•    Extending the MPS use of test purchases to include online sales, holding online retailers to account for illegal sale of knives to children;
•    ‘Naming and Shaming’ those retailers who continue to refuse training provisions and repeatedly are identified by the police and trading standards as selling illegally to underage customers;
•    Support the use of Restorative Justice with retailers to help them understand the impact of their actions/inaction;
•    Working with HMCTS to raise awareness amongst Magistrates on the impact of retailers illegally selling knives;
•    Evaluating the feasibility of the introduction of a Licensing Scheme for knives in England;
•    Calling on Government to introduce legislation to extend the Primary Authority scheme to knives as soon as possible.
We are preventing young people in London being involved in knife crime by:
•    Increasing the number of Safer Schools Officers, and ensuring that every school has access to one. 
•    Supporting the prevention work of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) in primary schools and ensuring that information on projects which are proven to work are shared with partners.
•    Working with partners to explore how we can collectively bring more resources and support into youth provision services, Pupil Referral Units (PRU’s) and schools within our most challenging boroughs;
•    Lobbying the Department for Education and Ofsted to develop and include mandatory requirements for schools to take effective safeguarding measures against knife crime supporting both students and parents;
•    Working with schools and education partners  to develop a Mayoral ‘Safer Schools’ standard – allowing schools to evidence that they meet best practice around student safety. 
•    Hosting an event with Academy chains and Governmental bodies to better understand their needs and agree a plan of action to help tackle knife crime;
•    Supporting the MPS to build on the success of its Cadets scheme and encourage more young Londoners to take part;
•    Working with the CitySafe scheme and retailers to cover the top 20 fast food outlets in London that are linked to serious youth violence, as well as exploring  with TfL extending this to transport hubs; 
•    Developing a media campaign targeted towards young people and their parents, raising awareness on the dangers and consequences of knife crime; and providing reassurance and advice on what they can do if they have concerns about an individual’s involvement or risk of involvement in knife crime;
•    Providing prevention materials linked to the media campaign, supporting the integration of the message into the activities of schools and alternative educational providers; 
•    Encouraging the Law Commission to undertake a review into offensive material published online, arguing that videos that glorify knife crime and violence are harmful;
•    Working with social media organisations ensure online videos which glorify knife crime are quickly taken down, including working with companies to put an end to the profits made from advertising linked to their videos;
•    Working with the MPS and partners to build greater evidence on the times and places at which young people are at greatest risk of harm, such as transport hubs at school closing time, and ensuring that the police are on hand at those places;
•    Establishing an ongoing youth engagement and consultative mechanism, ensuring young people continue to be consulted and involved in the delivery of this Strategy;
•    We will support schools to provide a safe space for students by offering them the use of knife wands and arches in areas where knife crime is most prevalent.

We are standing with communities, neighbourhoods& families against knife crime by:
•    Providing seed funding to community groups and anti-knife crime initiatives in priority areas in London, supporting a grass-roots response to knife crime;
•    Provide a toolkit alongside the knife crime media campaign which supports schools, community organisations, faith groups and others to participate in anti-knife crime activity locally and take ownership of local solutions. We will support them to deliver this by offering workshops and training sessions; 
•    Making adult offenders make amends to the communities they have harmed, working with communities and the London CRC to link tougher Community Payback sanctions for those convicted of knife possession with projects based in communities most affected by knife crime. 
•    Pushing for a commitment by all relevant Criminal Justice Service partners for the greater use of Community Impact Statements when considering responses to knife related incidents;
•    Work in partnership with the NHS and Local Authorities to continue with the Information Sharing to Tackle Violence (ISTV) programme;
•    Continuing to fund local services in London Boroughs through the LCPF to support interventions to reduce serious youth offending and knife crime
•    Delivering positive messages though up to 5,000 Police cadets who live within and are part of our diverse range of communities across London;
•    Developing a plan for working with our partners and communities following serious knife related incidents, assessing the impact on the families and communities to strengthen community engagement facilitating a two dialogue for information sharing between the communities and authorities, providing assurances and positive messages across the community and appropriate signposting to local support services.
•    Support anonymised reporting mechanisms between the communities and the police, such as Crimestoppers.

We are supporting victims of knife crime by:
•    Improving the services available to victims of knife crime through our victims’ services commissioning work and extending the support for young victims of knife crime with injury – broadening support to families. 
•    Increasing investment from £360,000 per annum to £1m next year, providing an up-lift in services for victims of serious crime,  and allocating a further £2m to develop a new Children’s and Young Persons Victims Service from 2018-2020.
•    Working with partners to produce a toolkit with information and advice on what to do in the aftermath of a knife crime, aimed to help front line workers such as teachers and doctors, faith groups and community groups to recognise the signs of trauma in family members and friends affected by a knife crime and to take appropriate steps to support them.
•    Ensuring that victims are aware of their rights to access a restorative justice provision;
•    Continuing to fund the youth support to victims of knife and gang crime in London Major Trauma Centres, ensuring that victims of knife crime are supported at a most critical time;
•    Extending this programme to key A&E departments in Boroughs that have high levels of knife crime to maximise the power and value of this ‘teachable moment’.

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