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London’s knife crime ‘epidemic’: Experts tell Sky News where they think the blame lies | UK News

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US President Donald Trump hit out at London mayor Sadiq Khan at the weekend, calling him a “disaster” and a “national disgrace” over knife crime in the capital.

Mr Trump retweeted right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins who called the city “Londonistan”, in an apparent swipe that linked Mr Khan’s heritage, the capital’s ethnic make-up, and the mayor’s perceived poor record on knife crime – despite fatal crime falling in London, according to official statistics.

The issue was brought to a head on Monday morning, when some Conservative leadership candidates refused to disagree with Mr Trump, with some even calling for Mr Khan to go.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 04: US President Donald Trump attends a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office during the second day of his State Visit on June 4, 2019 in London, England. President Trump's three-day state visit began with lunch with the Queen, followed by a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, whilst today he will attend business meetings with the Prime Minister and the Duke of York, before travelling to Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
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Donald Trump attacked Khan over his handling of crime

The most vocal leadership contender was Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said that he “150% agreed” with Mr Trump’s summary of Sadiq Khan, saying: “We have a Mayor of London who has completely failed to tackle knife crime and has spent more time on politics than the actual business of making Londoners safer and in that I 150% agree with the president.”

However, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, whose department is responsible for crime, disagreed with Mr Trump, saying he should stick to domestic problems instead.

With Mr Khan constantly coming under pressure from his opponents over his record on knife crime, Sky News spoke to people with no political connections, to ask them who should shoulder the blame.

This is what they had to say.

:: Jermaine Lawlor, former gang member and now head of youth mentoring organisation Voice 4 Youth Against Violence

“It’s a government issue,” he said.

“Most definitely it’s a political issue and an issue that our politicians are responsible for. It’s been happening for decades and it so happens to be peaking now. It’s clear that the rich don’t care about the poor or those affected by crime in a self-centred society.”

:: Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust

“In April 2008 Ben Kinsella, a 16-year-old schoolboy wrote to the PM Gordon Brown to ask him to intervene and do more to protect young people from the epidemic of violence that was gripping our country in 2008. Three months later Ben was murdered in an unprovoked knife attack,” he said.

“Since then we have had three prime ministers, five home secretaries and two London mayors. We have had a Labour, Conservative-Liberal and a Conservative government. We have had a Conservative mayor followed by a Labour mayor.

“They have all made reactive efforts to tackle this issue but none had of these responses have been impactful in the long-term.

“As a result, our knife crime problem persists.”

Knife crime has fallen in the capital
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Homicides in London have actually fallen

:: John Sutherland, former Camden Borough Commander

“We are facing a humanitarian crisis on the streets of London and beyond,” he said. “And the easiest thing in the world is to look for someone to blame: politicians, police officers, parents, perpetrators and so it goes on.

“The much harder thing is to try to understand what’s actually happening out there – and what we need to do in response to it.

“We need a long-term plan for dealing with knife crime – at least 10 years, preferably 20. We need to re-frame our understanding of violence, recognising that it is at least as much a public health issue as it is a crime problem.

“We need to involve young in designing and delivering every single aspect of the response to knife crime and the response to knife crime needs to remain completely independent from any form of political control.

“When politicians are in charge, experience suggests that the response to any pressing concern remains vulnerable to partisan priorities and shifting political winds.”







London mayor Sadiq Khan attacks police cuts after four murders in four days

:: Graham Wettone, Sky News police analyst and former Metropolitan Police officer

“In my opinion, the knife crime crisis rests initially and primarily with government and specifically Theresa May as home secretary and then prime minister,” he said.

“Her austerity measures and personal attacks on the police service in respect of funding and resources has contributed to the epidemic of violent offences we are now experiencing.

“Numbers really do matter despite what Mrs May said and Policing has not only lost around 20,000 front line staff but a similar number of support or backroom staff.

“She has continually refused to acknowledge her mistakes or responsibility for these issues and has declined several requests and pleas from those in policing to reconsider her measures.This has been a deliberate and considered policy by Mrs May and she has steadfastly refused requests from within her own party to review and reconsider.”

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