London’s leftist mayor, Sadiq Khan, suffered an embarrassing fact check from the non-partisan Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) after his office falsely attempted to claim that the wave of knife crime had reduced since coming into power when in fact it has soared by 40 per cent.
Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority and Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) Ed Humpherson has accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office of spreading “incorrect” information about knife crime in a statement published in July, which the officially politically-neutral statistician said had the “potential to mislead the public”.
In the July press release, the mayor’s office claimed that “knife and gun crime, homicides and burglary have all fallen since 2016” when Sadiq Khan was first elected to the post. The statement went on to assert that knife crime had fallen “as a result of the mayor’s relentless focus on tackling violent crime,” the Daily Mail reported.
However, according to statistics from the Office for National Statistics, there has, in fact, been a 40 per cent rise in knife crimes since Khan took office, with 9,086 knife-related offences being recorded in the year up to March of 2016 compared to 12,786 knife crimes during the same period in 2023.
Humpherson said that the figures demonstrated that knife crime had “significantly increased across the relevant period” and said that he would actively engage with the mayor’s office to “encourage” officials to correct the record.
“Part of the statement is incorrect and has the potential to mislead the public,” Mr Humpherson said in a letter.
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Khan’s office attempted to claim that the press release wasn’t a lie by maintaining that they were referencing a decline of knife injuries involving people under the age of 25, which according to the Metropolitan Police has declined since 2016.
However, the OSR director said that the July statement was not “clear on the source of the claims” about knife crime, given that it did not make such clarifications in the text and therefore was “not in line with best practice”.
Following the objections from Humpherson, a spokesman for Khan said that the original press release has been changed to provide “further detail has been added to a press release issued in July 2023 around the specific reductions achieved with knife crime in the capital”.
Knife crime will likely be a major political issue in 2024 when Mr Khan will seek a historic third term in office. Khan’s chief opponent in the upcoming race, Tory London Assembly Member Susan Hall, has vowed to invest £200 million into policing to get reduce crime in the capital.
“We will stop at nothing until criminals are locked up and our streets are safer again,” Hall said, pledging to set up specialist police units to tackle burglaries, robberies, and theft, which she said have “been ignored too often”.
Hall has also vowed to “take the scourge of knife crime” and said that she would invest in knife detection wands for police officers to be able to conduct “searches faster and less intrusively.”
Editor’s Note 07-12-23: An earlier version of this article inadvertently conflated the Office of National Statistics and the Office for Statistics Regulation, both bodies based in the same building in London and both arms of the UK Statistics Authority. This has been corrected for clarity.
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