Sadiq Khan could be doing more to tackle knife crime, says Boris Johnson as he urges Mayor to act

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Boris Johnson is interviewed by LBC's Nick Ferrari - LBC
Boris Johnson is interviewed by LBC's Nick Ferrari - LBC

Boris Johnson has said "more could be done to fight knife crime" as he urged the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to do better to tackle the issue in the capital.

While the pandemic curbed stabbings in London over the past 18 months, it remains an issue especially among younger people and drug-related gangs.

Before lockdowns, London's knife crime was at its highest rate in a decade, as was the number of murders in the capital.

The Prime Minister said: "For me it's about taking responsibility. If you remember in 2008 when I came in as mayor it was a grim scene. There was nobody taking responsibility for it.

"I think I would like to work with the London mayoralty to fight this problem. It can be fixed by being tough on gangs, tough on the kids carrying knives. I believe stop and search is a big part of that."

But outside of London, the number of knife crime offences is also at its highest recorded level in the past 10 years.

In the year ending March 2020, there were around 46,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales.

PM would not 'weep any hot tears' over 'chain gangs'

The Prime Minister said he would not "weep any hot tears" for people guilty of anti-social behaviour being made to join "chain gangs".

Offenders taking part in "community payback" schemes are already required to wear a hi-vis vest while carrying out the unpaid work, but Mr Johnson has called for wider use of the punishments.

Mr Johnson told LBC Radio: "What I want to see is those who are guilty of anti-social behaviour actually paying their debt to society.

"If that means that they are visibly part of some yellow fluorescent-jacketed chain gang then I am not going to weep any hot tears about that, I think that's a good thing."

Mr Johnson also backed his Home Secretary Priti Patel in her row with the Police Federation over the pay freeze for all but the lowest-paid officers.

The Prime Minister said: "I have got absolutely every confidence in the Home Secretary."

He told LBC Radio: "No one would want to pay our fantastic police more than I would. We are just going through a tough time financially for the Government, I think most people do understand that.

"I just ask people to recognise that but also that the Government is doing what it can to expand police numbers as fast as we can, also to give them things that they need - more body-worn cameras, greater ability to use Tasers, more powers for instance over stop and search, and protections against unreasonable behaviour by members of the public, assaults that all too often they face."

The Prime Minister said police are an "indispensable" part of society, and said it was right they were being afforded a national memorial.

Speaking to LBC radio, the Prime Minister said: "You know that, obviously, at the Peel Centre in Hendon, the Met have a memorial.

"There's another memorial in London, but so far there's been no proper national memorial for police officers at the National Arboretum in the way that there are commemorations for so many other services, particularly the armed services, and I think it's the right thing to do and so that's why I'm there tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Asked how important it was that the police were getting a memorial in Staffordshire, Mr Johnson replied: "The police matter hugely to me, but also to our society.

"I think that they are indispensable as part of a society that can be fair and just and equal.

"Fighting crime is something that is, for me, the basic number one job, the hygiene of government. We've got to make sure that our streets are safe and getting safer and that depends on having a, supporting our police, loving them, showing that we're looking after them."

Boris Johnson refuses to comment on Dominic Cummings' remarks

Boris Johnson said he will not be commenting on remarks made by his former senior aide, Dominic Cummings.

The Vote Leave mastermind has claimed the Prime Minister's wife, Carrie Johnson, "pulls the strings" in Downing Street and, in an interview with the BBC last week, said she makes suggestions for who should be hired and fired in Government.

Mr Johnson told LBC: "I don't wish to comment on any of the sayings of any of my former advisers, who are now many."

He added: "Number 10 Downing Street - I looked at this the other day - just in the last year I think we've had about 220 people arrive in Number 10.

"I don't know how many have left - quite a few, and I'm sure they've all got something interesting to say, but I have no intention of commenting on it.

"I'm all in favour of people having their views."

Prime Minister fails to back Cressida Dick

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has failed twice to back Britain's most senior police officer as the right person to fight county lines drugs gangs.

In an interview with LBC on Wednesday, the premier was asked if Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick should lead the battle against the criminal networks.

But twice Mr Johnson avoided answering the question, instead saying he regards her as a "formidable police officer".

Referring to efforts to stop the drugs gangs, considered to be one factor behind record levels of teen violence in London, host Nick Ferrari asked: "Is Dame Cressida Dick the woman to push this through?"

The Prime Minister replied: "You'll have known Cress for a very long time. I think she's a formidable police officer."

Mr Ferrari asked again: "Is she the woman to deliver on this?"

Mr Johnson replied: "All that is a matter for the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary."

The awkward exchange comes after a similar discussion, also on LBC, in February, in which Home Secretary Priti Patel repeatedly refused to back the commissioner.

Dame Cressida, whose term in her job is due to end in the spring, has faced questions over her leadership in recent months, against a background of a reportedly rocky relationship with the Home Secretary.

This comes at a time when London is on course for the highest number of teenage murders in more than a decade, fuelled by drugs related violence, gangs and feuds on social media.

The Met has also face a number of controversies, including the security farce at Wembley Stadium where thousands of ticketless fans were able to storm the venue during the UEFA Euro 2020 final.

In June a damning report on the unsolved 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan accused the force of institutional corruption, sparking bullish denials from the Met leadership.

Baroness Nuala O'Loan, chairwoman of the panel that authored the report, called their reaction "most disappointing".

Public confidence was also shaken when one of the force's armed officers Wayne Couzens murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard, days after he had indecently exposed himself in a fast food restaurant.

The Met was heavily criticised for its handling of a vigil held in Miss Everard's memory and to raise awareness of the dangers faced by women on the streets.

It has faced ongoing accusations of racial bias in its use of stop and search, with a number of incidents attracting scrutiny.

Three officers are under investigation for potential gross misconduct after athlete Bianca Williams was stopped with her partner and baby.

And in August 2020, Labour MP Dawn Butler accused police of racially profiling her after a vehicle she was travelling in was pulled over in error for questioning.

Since becoming Commissioner in 2017, Dame Cressida has also had to deal with the fall out from the disastrous Operation Midland.

The multi-million pound investigation saw detectives duped by false claims of a VIP sex abuse ring made by fantasist Carl Beech.

Boris Johnson 'disappointed' at Wembley Euro 2020 final scenes

The Prime Minister said he was "disappointed" with scenes at Wembley during the Euro 2020 final earlier this month, when England lost in the final on penalties to Italy.

Ticketless fans stormed the ground before kick-off and there were reports of disorder within the ground during the match.

Speaking on LBC, Boris Johnson said: "I was disappointed with that.

"I think that the UK has a fantastic case to the world to host great football championships. I think we looked great (as a Euros host) in many ways but this was unquestionably letting the side down."

Asked whether the police had questions to answer, Mr Johnson replied: "I know there is a full review and inquiry going on into what went wrong.

"What I might say perhaps in way of mitigation is this was the first time they'd had to mount something like that in lockdown conditions, Covid conditions, where you had to have quite long queues for people to observe social distancing, get tested and so on.

"But I don't want to make any excuses for it, we need to get to the bottom of what happened."

PM: Vaccines 'going to be one of those things that help you not hinder you'

Boris Johnson rejected Cabinet minister Michael Gove's claim that people who refuse to get a vaccine are "selfish".

Asked if they were "selfish", the Prime Minister told LBC Radio: "No, I think that I would put it the other way round and say that if you get one you are doing something massively positive for yourself, for your family."

Mr Johnson was challenged over his plan to require a vaccine certificate to visit nightclubs from the end of September.

"It's a very positive thing to do to get a vaccine," he said.

The Prime Minister added: "People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, it's going to be one of those things that will help you not hinder you."

Mr Johnson also said the UK would see a "steady" economic recovery but warned there would be "bumps on the road" following the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expects UK economic output to grow by 7% this year, a major upgrade from the 5.3% growth that the body's economists had predicted in April.

The Prime Minister told LBC Radio: "You are seeing the job numbers increasing and I think that the rest of this year - there will still be bumps on the road - but I think you will see a story of steady economic recovery."

Boris Johnson stressed the need for caution despite recent falls in the number of coronavirus cases.

The Prime Minister told LBC Radio: "We've seen some encouraging recent data, there's no question about that, but it is far, far too early to draw any general conclusions."

He added: "The most important thing is for people to recognise that the current situation still calls for a lot of caution and for people just to remember that the virus is still out there, that a lot of people have got it, it still presents a significant risk."

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