James Cleverly claims National Service would cut knife crime in London


The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has suggested that the Conservatives' national service plan would cut knife crime in London as young people are currently 'not comfortable mixing with neighbouring postcodes'. The former London Assembly Member added during an interview whilst campaigning in Cheam on Thursday, May 30, that he expects the scheme to have a 'high take up' as he 'finds it hard to believe' that 18-year-olds would not want to do one of the options.

Young people will be able to choose either to join the military or help out in community roles. Mr Cleverly also reaffirmed that there would not be any criminal sanctions for those who refuse to take part. He added that he did not want to pre-empt a royal commission into what the sanctions would be.

The Home Secretary said when asked if the policy would get knife crime and gang violence down: "It's really sad that when you hear sometimes that young people don't know, or [are] not comfortable in the company of other young people from the next door postcode.

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"And I'm absolutely convinced that people coming together from different communities, different backgrounds, learning more about each other, recognising there is so much more that makes us similar than makes us different. I think that will have a positive effect on loads of things - unemployment, on crime, on community tension, on all these kind of things."

In addition, the Home Secretary admitted to MyLondon that he was ‘out slightly’ when he claimed on Sunday, May 26, that discounting London stats would result in figures suggesting an overall decrease in knife crime nationally. Mr Cleverly now says there would actually be a ‘modest upturn’ across the country after a MyLondon analysis found that there would be a 2.6 per cent increase in knife crime offences in England and Wales (without Metropolitan Police data), compared to a 7.2 per cent increase in England and Wales (with the Met data).

'Modest upturn' in knife crime nationwide

Home Secretary James Cleverly gets into car after canvassing during the election campaign in Cheam
The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, canvassed in Cheam in South London today -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Mr Cleverly said: "The point remains true that London is a negative outlier. Across the whole of the UK, crime figures had been coming down fairly significantly, there had been a, as you say, a modest upturn across the country. But the national figures are heavily distorted by London where knife crime has seen a very significant upturn."

Asked whether his party was a bit too obsessed with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and his record, the Home Secretary said: "One of the reasons why we talk about Sadiq Khan is because London is our capital city, London matters, and London has been run by Labour now for over eight years, and what we've seen is police numbers reducing, crime increasing."

James Cleverly stroking Conservative campaigners' dogs
Mr Cleverly seemed besotted with campaigners' dogs in Cheam -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

When asked on Wednesday, May 29, if his record on knife crime - which increased by 20 per cent over the past year in London - were a black mark on Labour’s record, Mr Khan told MyLondon that his party's shadow cabinet members came out to support him during the mayoral campaign.

These included Sir Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves, Ed Miliband and Angela Rayner. The mayor added: “How many did my Tory opponent have from her side? So I think we’re in good shape.”

Labour promises more police

Labour has promised to put 13,000 neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat in communities across the country, who will be 'visible and present in local areas, deterring crime and catching criminals, with guaranteed neighbourhood patrols'.

Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, has lambasted what she called a 'laissez-faire' Conservative approach to crime over successive governments.

She said: “On Rishi Sunak’s watch, 90 per cent of crimes are going unsolved and knife-wielding muggers, phone thieves and pickpockets can get away with menacing our town centres and neighbourhoods. Ministers have done nothing to tackle the new organised crime wave that is hitting local shops and streets. That is the Tory legacy on law and order, and our communities are paying the price.

Sadiq Khan speaking to people with a hand on his face
Sadiq Khan says the Met is underfunded by the Government, and that there is a £200m 'black hole' -Credit:Adam Toms/MyLondon

“Enough is enough. Labour will rebuild safety on Britain’s streets and take back our town centres from thugs and thieves, with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat in our communities, tough new powers to crack down on those who cause havoc on our high streets, and a mission to reverse the collapse in the number of crimes being solved.

“Labour will put an end to Tory chaos and be a government of law and order, putting the safety and security of our communities at its heart and taking back our streets”.

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