LONDON: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has revealed that police will “significantly” increase the use of stop and search to tackle soaring knife crime on London’s streets. The Mayor promised a “tougher crackdown” this year with the Met “ramping up” the fight against violent crime. It comes on the day that an 18-year-old died in hospital after being beaten in a fight in Chislehurst last night. New figures also showed that the number of violent acid attacks in London has soared by more than 78 per cent over the last two years with a huge increase in the number of victims.
Mr Khan said more intelligence-led stop and search was a “vital tool” to keeping the capital’s communities safe. The Mayor has been under intense pressure over his record on knife crime since New Year, when four young Londoners were stabbed to death in unrelated incidents. The pledge to step up stop and search represents a shift in position from Mr Khan who promised before he was elected to “do all in my power” to drive down the controversial tactic. City Hall insiders said he still had concerns about its dramatic effect on communities, with public confidence in the police undermined if Londoners are stopped and searched for no good reason. Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has said that more stop and search could help reduce knife crime while many frontline officers believe its decline has been a factor in the recent knife crime epidemic. Senior officers and City Hall also hope that the rollout of body-worn cameras will give the public more confidence that the tactic is being used properly and protect against accusations of racism and unfairness.
Writing in the Standard, Mr Khan said: “The Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, and I are in full agreement that the Met must continue to ramp up their fight against violent crime. “Londoners will see a tougher crackdown throughout 2018. This will include a significant increase in the use of targeted stop and search by the police across our city”. The Mayor, who was stopped and searched himself as a teenager growing up in South London, added: “I know from personal experience that when done badly, stop and search can cause community tensions.
“But when based on real intelligence, geographically focused and performed professionally, it is a vital tool for the police to keep our communities safe. “It will allow the police to target and arrest offenders, take the weapons they carry off our streets and stop these attacks from happening.” The Met dramatically reduced the number of random stop and searches in 2012 in an effort to improve relations with black and ethnic minority communities. The Home Office is still putting pressure on police chiefs to reform the practice after the latest figures showed that nationwide black people were dramatically more likely to be targeted by officers than white people.