Through this Strategy, we set out a comprehensive plan of partnership action to tackle the immediate threat to safety posed by knife crime in London. But, important as it is, tackling the immediate problem is not enough. Over the last decade, we have seen knife crime peak, trough and peak again in London. I refuse to accept that this is the norm. If we are to make a lasting difference, we must do more to get to grips with the deeper issues fuelling violence and knife crime in our city.
We value all of our citizens and the contributions they make as a whole in making London the best city in the world. Our young citizens play a huge part in everything that is great about London, they are vibrant and dynamic, innovative and inspirational. We must ensure they have every opportunity to flourish and make the most out of the wealth of opportunities which London provides.
We must not accept that crime and violence is a foregone conclusion for any young person in London, regardless of their circumstances. We will redouble partnership efforts to divert young people at highest risk of offending and victimisation away from a life ruined by crime and onto a better path.
Our communities are sick and tired of the damage being done by knife crime. We hear their voices. In this Strategy we set out how we will support communities as they stand up against knife crime, with new funding for grass-roots community activities to protect their children and drive out crime. We recognise that knife crime hurts more than just the person physically injured, and that support services must reach further. We are making greater investment in support for the victims of knife crime, their families and wider communities.
We support determined, targeted enforcement by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and partners like Trading Standards to get dangerous individuals and dangerous weapons off our streets. This includes greater Borough-led activity to catch knife offenders and to deter anyone thinking of carrying a knife. It includes new activity to target the online sale of knives to young people, which must be addressed.
But we must not submit to a counsel of despair that some of our most troubled young people are beyond help. We will not give up on them. We will expand our work to reach out to those caught up in crime and give them the skills, the resources and the confidence to get out.
No one person or organisation has all the answers to knife crime, and we embarked on producing this strategy with a clear ambition to involve as many organisations, groups, communities and individuals as possible – bringing together the expertise and passion of people doing excellent work every day to keep young people safe. The tough funding situation for all organisations underlines the need for us to work together, making the most of what we have at our disposal to make the biggest difference we can for our children and young people. The Met have already reduced costs by nearly £600m since 2012-13 and the government’s current funding settlement requires them to reduce costs by roughly a further £400m by 2020-21. I am working hard with the Met to deliver this through greater efficiency and minimise the impact on front line officer numbers. But this is becoming increasingly difficult. The police service in London needs to be properly funded and I am making this case to Government.
The Met are just one of many public services in this city that have suffered massive cuts, and we recognise the challenges also faced by local authorities, criminal justice partners, health services and charitable sector partners. We know we cannot rely on police, or even statutory services alone, to respond to knife crime. Communities, families, faith groups, the media and cultural sectors; we all have a responsibility to encourage young people to fulfil their potential and not to carry and use weapons.
I am grateful to everyone who has taken part in the development of the Strategy, and I look forward to working together to deliver it.
We must drive knife crime out of London. Together, we can do it.