Sadiq Khan has been slammed for staying silent on knife and gun crime in London, and instead “declaring a war on motorists”, as the number of teenagers murdered in the capital reaches 14 this year.
This means that as many teenagers have been murdered in 2023 so far as were in the whole of 2022 in the capital.
The mayor recently announced a £3.4million investment into supporting community groups and grassroots schemes to help reduce youth crime – but critics maintain his focus remains incorrectly on his controversial ULEZ scheme.
GB News presenter Andrew Pierce took aim at the mayor, writing on X: “After 14th teenage murder in London nothing from Mayor Sadiq Khan who’s too busy with his war on motorists to declare war on knife/gun crime”.
City Hall says it has invested in several local partnership programmes and is supporting dedicated neighbourhood police officers to help tackle youth violence.
However, teenager violence persists in the capital.
On May 5, two teenagers lost their lives within a seven-hour period.
More than 150 teenagers have now been murdered in the capital since Khan first took office seven years ago.
2021 was the worst year for teenage killings in London on record, with 30 young victims losing their lives.
According to a 2021 report nearly half of London’s 300 youth centres have closed down.
And last year, analysis by YMCA England found that Britain has cut money for youth services by almost £1bn in the last decade.
Figures show 10 to 16-year-olds are most likely to be attacked between 3pm and 10pm Monday to Friday, while for 18 to 24-year-olds it’s the weekends.
Meanwhile the mayor’s rolling out of the ULEZ scheme across London, which charges residents for driving in more heavily polluting vehicles, has sparked a vigilante group dedicated to removing the cameras used to enforce the policy and sparked concerns over the impact on tradespeople.
But a new investment seeks to improve community groups and after-school activities aims to tackle youth violence.
London’s Violence Reduction Unit, set up by the mayor, aims to more than triple the number of children supported with activities after school.
It will provide projects include training on county lines and gang exploitation, sexual violence, literacy, numeracy and business.
Speaking to MyLondon on issue of youth crime, Mr Khan said: “In London, because of investment from City Hall, we’ve invested in more police officers – crucial as we’ve lost twenty-odd thousand across the country over the last 13 years.
“Investing in more police community support officers, because they help keep us safe.
“But, also, we need to make sure we give young people who get involved in criminality – I’m not excusing criminality – constructive, safe things to do, the alternative.
“And, so, the good news – no complacency at all – violent crime is going down, knife crime is going down, knife crime with injury is going down, homicides are going down […] unlike the rest of the country.”
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: “Each and every homicide is devastating – these victims are not just statistics and not just numbers. They all have families, and they all should have had their lives ahead of them.
“Tackling violence is front and centre of our focus. Officers see first-hand how violent crime destroys the lives of victims and their families. This is exactly what motivates officers to remain dedicated to stopping these crimes from happening in the first place.
“Officers have been deploying into known hotspot locations where violence takes place, using innovative tactics and high visibility patrols to keep communities safe. They have also been focussing on prevention and diversion, to help young people turn away from a life of crime.
“There are also bespoke operations taking place across London, tailored to the local concerns of the community. In response to the high level of teen homicides last year, the Met’s Violent Crime Taskforce launched Operation Denali where officers carry out a range of proactive activity in Croydon, Haringey, Greenwich and Newham – areas identified as having high volumes of serious youth violence.
“We will not stop using all the tactics available to us to keep our young people safe, while also working with partners to target the root causes of these devastating crimes.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the Mayor’s office for comment.