Putting police officers in schools when they fully reopen could help prevent a surge in violent crime in the capital, the mayor of London has said.
Sadiq Khan said the Metropolitan Police will use school safety officers and targeted policing in areas of high violent crime in a bid to avoid a spike when the Covid-19 lockdown lifts.
He was speaking on Tuesday after going on patrol in Bethnal Green, east London, with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and violence suppression unit officers.
“One of the things that we’ve been looking at, in those parts of the world where they’ve come out of lockdown sooner than us, is there has been, I’m afraid, a surge in violent crime,” he said.
“Actually, in some cities around the world – Chicago, New York have been two examples – even during lockdown there have been big increases in violent crime.
“We in London, because of the hard work of the police and others, have not had that.
“The key challenge now is to make sure that, working together, we avoid a surge in violent crime when the lockdown is lifted.
“So for example, making sure when schools fully reopen, school safety officers are there, making sure that police are properly targeted in those areas in London where there’s a concern.
“We have the violent crime taskforce going to those boroughs of high violent crime, but also working with the violence suppression unit as well.
“We need to make sure we do what we can in relation to both prevention – tough on the causes of crime – and enforcement – tough on crime as well.”
Mr Khan announced a plan to invest another £38 million in policing raised from London council taxpayers.
There will be £30 million to pay for more than 1,000 City Hall-funded police officers over the next four years and £8 million towards violence prevention measures, such as electronic tagging of violent offenders and funding for youth workers in A&E and trauma centres, the mayor said.
“Violent crime had been increasing across the country and in London since 2014, while serious youth violence had been going up since 2013,” he said.
“We’ve worked hard to tackle violence in our city, and it started to fall well before the pandemic hit and has continued to do so. But I am not content or complacent, we still have a long way to go.
“If we are to see the long-term reductions in violence that we all want to see in our city, we must continue to tackle the underlying causes of crime, such as poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunities for young Londoners.
“I’m doing everything I can from City Hall to reduce violence, but it’s clear we still have huge financial challenges ahead because the Government has implemented a new era of austerity on public services in London.
“Ministers must now match my commitment to tackling this issue and fully refund City Hall and the Met for all the lost income and money spent tackling the pandemic.”