More than one in five Londoners attacked or threatened in past five years

Young people feel more vulnerable now than they did before lockdown, report shows
Young people feel more vulnerable now than they did before lockdown, the report shows - Tom King / Alamy Stock Photo

More than one in five Londoners have been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years, a poll has found.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults found 22 per cent of people living in the city had been physically attacked or threatened. Nearly six in 10 (57 per cent) were male and a similar proportion were aged between 18 and 34, according to the Survation research commissioned by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).


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A tenth of Londoners said they knew someone who possessed, or had possessed, an illegal firearm and nine per cent believed it would be possible for them to get such a weapon for themselves.

It comes as data compiled by the centre showed knife crime had steadily increased by 30 per cent since the pandemic in 2020, while the number of stop and searches by police has fallen by more than a third from 319,490 to 179,677 in the same period.

The decline in stop and search contrasted with growing support among young people for police to use the tactic to combat the rise in violent crime. The proportion of 18 to 24 year olds supporting stop and search as a tactic had risen from 49 per cent in 2019 to 52 per cent in 2023.

The centre calculated that violence in London cost taxpayers £7 billion in 2023, more than double the £3 billion calculated in a report commissioned by Sadiq Khan’s violence reduction unit in 2019.

This includes the economic, social and NHS costs, with robbery (139,814 offences) and violence with injury (110,034 offences) accounting for £4 billion of the money.

More than half of Londoners (51 per cent) wanted the police to be on foot and accessible in the local area more often. More than a third wanted police to visit secondary schools more often and be more involved in community events.

Researcher Nikita Malik, of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “With nearly one in four Londoners attacked or threatened with violence in the last five years, it’s hardly surprising they are demanding more from the police.

“They want them to be more visible and more proactive: conducting stop and search, involved in schools and sports clubs, and part of London’s communities.”

Emily Wells, a former police officer and now a researcher at the CSJ, said: “It is often the families of victims and perpetrators who want police to be more visible on the streets, more involved in communities, and on the ground delivering preventative programmes such as sports interventions and initiatives run from schools.”

She cited one incident from her time on the beat when a single father of two tearaway teenage sons told her that he felt he could not prevent either of them ending up in prison or dead.

“He pleaded with us to stop and search his sons every time we saw them. He believed this would prevent his sons from making a tragic mistake,” she said.

The report recommended that the Government should ensure that stop and search continued to be used as a part of a toolkit for crime prevention and forces should publicly and regularly release findings of stop and search to improve trust and confidence in the police.