From poor boys rolling hoops to THIS:
Britain’s largest police force has warned there has been steep increases in gun and knife crime in the capital over the past year, adding that years of budget cuts may at least be partially responsible.
The Metropolitan police said gun and knife crime rose 42% and 24% respectively and that recorded crime was up across virtually every category, in figures released two days after Cressida Dick took over as commissioner.
The biggest concern is the rise in violent crime. There was an increase in young people carrying knives, Hewitt said, with only a quarter of those carrying a blade linked to gangs. The Met suspects the increase is partly down to people increasingly believing in the need to carry a knife for self-protection. Hewitt said on a recent school visit to a class of 10-year-olds he asked who knew someone who carried a knife and three-quarters said they did.
This week alone there have been three fatal stabbings in the capital: in Northolt, in the north west, Mile End in the east and Plumsted, in the south-east.
Hewitt said: “Young people carrying knives are doing so for a variety of reasons including status, criminality and self-protection but only around a quarter are affiliated with gangs. There is a phenomenon of people feeling that you need to carry a knife to be safe … The problem comes when you then get a confrontation.”
Incidents of a gun being fired were up 28% to 306. The Met said it believed availability of guns had increased. Similar increases in violent crime were being seen nationally, and Dick’s predecessor Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe had already warned in January that that “the warning lights are flashing red”.
Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing, said: “These figures are deeply disturbing, and a stark reminder of the enormous pressure our police are under every day … The growing scale of the challenge revealed by this worrying data makes it more important than ever that the government provides the funding the Met needs to keep Londoners safe.”
Martin Hewitt, assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, said the crime rise did not have a simple “causal link” to the “significant amount” of money taken from the Met as part of cuts imposed on all forces under the government’s austerity programme.
He added that while the figures were up compared with last year, London was safer now than a decade ago.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Police reform is working, with the latest ONS figures showing crimes traditionally measured by the survey have fallen by a third since 2010 to a record low, with over 370,000 fewer violent crimes a year.
“Every violent crime is a significant concern and this government is taking action to tackle it and keep our communities safe, including through actions set out in our Modern Crime Prevention Strategy. Last year, we banned zombie knives, extended our work with retailers to prevent underage sales of knives and supported police in a week of action where they seized more than 1,200 weapons and made 300 arrests.
“We know there is more to be done. We will continue to work with the police, retailers and voluntary groups to tackle knife crime and ensure support is available for victims of gang violence and exploitation.”