Cost of living could influence violent crime, London mayor Sadiq Khan warns

The cost of living crisis could lead to more violent crime, London mayor Sadiq Khan warned.

Mr Khan spoke of his fears that progress in the fight against violent crime could be jeopardized as figures show that London’s knife and gun crimes and murders of teenagers have declined.

He said: “we need to recognize that the rising cost of living can make things even more challenging and even risk putting us backwards”.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (Liam McBurney/PA)

City hall pointed to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that knife crime fell by 7% in 2021 and gun crime fell by 18%.

The number of murdered teenagers in London has decreased by 64% in the first five months of 2022 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to ONS figures covering the year to December 2021.

Mr Khan said that “the level of violence is still far too high” despite the fact that the number of incidents has decreased since before the pandemic.

He says the impact of the cost of living crisis could jeopardize progress in fighting violent crime.

The cost of living crisis, which affects huge numbers of Londoners and some of the most vulnerable groups, could jeopardize progress made in fighting violent crime and its root causes, Mr Khan said.

He fears that rising costs will exacerbate deprivation and poverty, which, along with a lack of positive opportunities for young Londoners, could be a driver of violent crime.

City hall analysis of the causes of violence establishes links between deprivation, poverty and vulnerability to crime, with six of the 10 municipalities with the highest rise in unemployment during the pandemic represented in the top 10 municipalities for serious violence.

A November 2021 document from the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime, which provides information on crime priorities and police performance, found that there are very different patterns of deprivation across the 32 London boroughs, with Barking and Dagenham ranking in the 10 most deprived along with Hackney. authorities in England.

It added that there are three more boroughs, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets, which are among the top 10% of most disadvantaged authorities.

The document states: “London also exhibits relatively high and much more widespread levels of crime deprivation (as measured by high levels of crime categorized as violence, burglary, theft or criminal damage).”

Police Race Action Plan
Metropolitan Police Commander Alex Murray said challenges lie ahead (Nick Potts/PA)

Commander Alex Murray, the Met’s leader for tackling violent crime, said: “Agents across London did everything they could to get through it, while working with partners to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“Officers do this with such passion because seeing firsthand how violence ruins the lives of victims and their families is what motivates them.

“We know there are challenges ahead as we head into the summer months and there is more we can all do.”

Ben Lindsay, the chief executive and founder of Power the Fight, a charity that aims to help communities end youth violence, said: “We’ve seen the impact that poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunity has had on communities, and more needs to be done across the board to mitigate the impact of the cost of living on the most vulnerable in society.”

The charity works with the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in London and they have a focus on families, the importance of education, youth work and funding in an effort to help communities.

Mr Khan says he is supporting officers to try and get guns off the streets by providing a £1bn investment in policing.

It has helped fund an additional 1,300 police officers.

The number of police officers is at a high of 34,542 and the Met’s Violent Crime Taskforce, which focuses on the most dangerous offenders, has also been established.

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