According to the Telegraph, Home Secretary Priti Patel warned in an article for the newspaper that a Labour government could see 52 more murders, 150 more sexual assaults and up to 4,000 more violent assaults a year.
However, when pressed on the figures on Monday morning by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, who accused Ms Patel of inventing them, Mr Johnson was unable to say where they had come from.
The figures were absent from the online version of Ms Patel’s article when Yahoo News accessed it this morning, and a reference to a “violent crime wave” under Labour also seems to have been taken out.
The prime minister said: “What Priti is getting at is the reality that unless you have a tough approach on law and order... you will find knife crime continues to be a problem, you will find that serious youth violence continues to be a problem and that gun crime is a problem.”
But when Mr Ferrari said Ms Patel’s figures were “Project Fear”, Mr Johnson said she was making a point about crime figures and the need to have “robust policing”.
The Tories have made policing one of their key policy planks, having trailed their bid to recruit 20,000 police officers before the election was called, though critics have pointed to police budget cuts under the Conservatives earlier this decade.