London Mayor Sadiq Khan has performed a U-turn on his campaign promise to end “stop and search”, stating his Metropolitan Police will “significantly increase” their use of the powers in an attempt to crackdown on the city’s surging knife crime problem.
Before being elected in 2015, Mr. Khan promised to “do everything in my power to cut stop and search” if he became Mayor. On Thursday, however, he admitted it was a “vital tool for police to keep our communities safe”.
The change of tone comes just over a week after data revealed surging levels of violent crime in London last year – homicides were up 27.1 per cent, with youth homicides up 70 per cent, and serious youth violence up 19 per cent.
Robberies also rose by 33.4 per cent and burglaries by 18.7 per cent under Mr. Khan’s watch in 2016/7.
Part of the problem stems back to 2014, when Theresa May as Home Secretary promised to slash the use of stop and search, claiming the practice undermined relations with minority communities.
The Mayor has been under added pressure since New Year’s Eve, when four young people were stabbed to death in the capital in unrelated incidents on a single night.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) January 10, 2018
Writing in the Evening Standard this Thursday, Mr. Khan acknowledged the “worrying trend of rising violent crime across Britain”, adding:
“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.”
He continued: “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.
“We must never forget that it is black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities that are suffering the most from knife crime —around six in 10 young male victims are from this background.”