London gun crime up by 42% while knife crime also soars

Tareq Haddad
Medal for firearms officer in near-death shootout with armed gangster on streets of Tottenham

Gun and knife crime in London have soared by double digits in the last year, official figures show.

Statistics from London's Metropolitan Police showed that gun offences went up by 42% between April 2016 and April 2017, while knife offences rose by 24% during the same period.

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There were a total of 2,544 gun offences last year compared to 1,793 the year before, while knife crime was up from 9,742 to 12,074.

Weapons use also went up. The number of times guns were fired last year went up from 239 cases to 306. Stabbing victims went up by 20% with 4,415 victims last year compared to 3,663 the year before.

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In a statement released on Wednesday (12 April), Martin Hewitt, London Met's assistant commissioner, said: "We are concerned about the rise of gun crime and rise of knife crime offences committed by young people and the changing nature of the offenders.

"Young people carrying knives are doing so for a variety of reasons including status, criminality and self-protection but only around a quarter are affiliated with gangs.

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"Whilst we continue to focus on reducing stabbings by taking weapons and dangerous offenders off the streets, prevention and diversion from knife crime is key.

"There are complex social reasons why more young people are carrying knives and this cannot be solved by the police alone. We must work with communities to help combat knife crime."

'Still a safe city'

In spite of the numbers, Hewitt insisted that London remained a safe city and that the force was policing efficiently despite being faced with budget cuts. Since the Conservatives took power in 2010, the Met has made roughly £600m in savings and must find another £400m by 2020.

"London is one of the safest global cities in the world," Hewitt said. "There are few others with such low rates of serious crime such as murder and gun crime.

"Similar to the rest of England and Wales, crime rates in London are rising, but many of these are still at a much lower level than five years ago and are against the backdrop of significant reductions in resources."

Despite decreases in offences of drug and burglary, London's overall crime rate increased by 4.5% with a total of 774,737 offences last year compared to 740,933 the year before.

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