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Mayor Khan: ‘I Can’t Solve London Knife Crime,’ Blames Right Wingers

Sadiq Khan
John Phillips/Getty

The London mayor has said he “can not solve knife crime by myself” when pressed on the issue in the London Assembly, blaming Conservative government cuts and implying right-wing opponents are lying.

“The public will see increased police activity in areas of high knife crime. We’re being heckled by the Tories because it’s their cuts,” he claimed during the exchange following a question from Tory Assembly Member (AM) Sean Baily.

Mr. Khan appeared angry and frustrated throughout, calling right-wing members “annoying” and “sanctimonious” as well as blasting: “Heaven forbid we have facts at Assembly when asked by Tory members.”

When he was accused of avoiding questions, he replied: “As things stand, I’m the mayor, not you. Its for me to answer the questions not ask them.”

“As good as some people think I am, I can not solve knife crime by myself. Neither can the police. It’s important to have a teamwork approach,” he said later to laughs and jeers.

London Assembly Member Mr. Baily also asked how the mayor’s record could be judged on the issues of knife crime. “Our effectiveness will be judged by knife crime going down. It is going up,” Mr. Khan replied, whilst insisting that knife and violent crime was going up across the country, not just in London.

Steve O’Connell, a Tory member, shot back: “Mayor, you are responsible for London and you must be held accountable. How will we judge you? Will it be a five per cent reduction?” he asked.

The mayor refused to name a target for reducing knife crime and began talking about cuts to the NHS. Mr. O’Connell accused the Mayor of “deflecting” from the issue.

The grilling comes after shocking statistics revealed surging levels of violent crime in London last year – homicides were up 27.1 per cent, with youth homicides up 70 per cent, and serious youth violence up 19 per cent.

Robberies rose by 33.4 per cent and burglaries by 18.7 per cent under Mr. Khan’s watch in 2016/7. There were also more than 4,000 additional knife crime incidents under Mr. Khan than under his predecessor, a rise of 31.3 per cent.

In his scripted response to the knife crime question, the mayor said there had also been rises in knife crime in “Bristol, Sheffield, Oxford, and Birmingham”, and insisted the problem in London is “not new” as there had been a five per cent rise in knife crime in capital in 2014/5.

He also repeatedly blamed “massive” and “unprecedented” cuts by the Tory government to the police for the crime wave.

“In the context of those cuts, we’re doing all that we can to address the evil of knife crime,” he told the Assembly, promising £15 million in extra funds to police after announcing a maximum council tax rise at the end of last year.

However, the mayor’s office also admitted earlier this month that the 70 per cent of the Metropolitan force’s budget that is controlled by central government has, in fact, remained frozen, and has not been directly cut.

The £600 million in police savings that have allegedly been needed is due to “the costs associated with rising demands faced by the police”, the office said, largely due to inflation and the direct and indirect effects of mass migration including a rising population, and an increased terror threat.

report published at the end of last year found that migrants have headed 90 per cent of new households in England over the past decade, and more than a third of babies born in the UK last year had at least one parent was born outside the UK.

“The pressures of London’s rising population” are in part the cause of the policing crisis, Khan’s office said on the January 9th. However, the Mayor has also been pushing for continued open borders with the EU and more mass migration after Brexit.

Before his election, Mr. Khan claimed police stop and search tactics unfairly targeted minority ethnic groups and promised to “do everything in my power to cut” the practice, before reversing his stance as crime surged over the summer.

Mr. Baily said Thursday that Mr. Khan’s approach was, in fact, even more discriminatory than previous approaches.

He claimed: “[Young black men] were six times more likely [to be targeted for stop and searched]. That’s risen to eight times more likely under your watch.”

“Your ‘target led system’ has increased the amount [of searches] with no real serious increase in detections and convictions: so I put it to you, that it’s your system that is failing not other’s,” he added.

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