The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. By that metric, Sadiq Khan is failing too many Londoners. It has been the sad duty of this newspaper to report on the epidemic of knife crime afflicting young Londoners.
The Metropolitan Police is working tirelessly, with stop-and-search alongside other intelligence-led operations. Yet the bloodshed persists.
In the 12 months to the end of March 2020, there were 15,928 knife crimes in London, compared with 9,752 for the 12 months to the start of April 2016, weeks before Khan took power.
Crime has consistently been cited by Londoners as the most important issue in this election, and it is the Mayor’s Achilles heel. Indeed, despite Khan’s 20-point poll lead, he and his Conservative rival Shaun Bailey are neck-and-neck on the issue.
As we go to the polls this week, residents will have to consider whether Khan has the grip and focus to make a difference on violent crime.
Bailey, meanwhile, has made crime central to his pitch. He has committed to increasing the size of the Met by 25 per cent — an additional 8,000 constables — and redeploying 1,000 officers to focus on violence against women and girls, as well as making a pledge to cut crime within 100 days of taking office.
Such ambition is not only welcome, but desperately needed. The number of teenagers stabbed in London this year has already reached double figures. This appalling loss of life must stop.
Our ambition is to make London the greatest city in the world. To do that, it first needs to become the safest. Yet with parents afraid to let their children out and young people facing casual, brutal violence, there is an urgent feeling that Londoners deserve better.