Cost of living crisis could cause violent crime spike, Sadiq Khan warns

“One death is one too many, with every death leaving lives destroyed, communities hurting and families heartbroken.”

London could see a spike in violent crime due to the impact of the cost of living crisis, Sadiq Khan has claimed.

The stark warning came as figures showed a significant drop in knife crime, gun crime and teenage murders in the capital.

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But the mayor of London has now warned the spiralling cost of living will exacerbate poverty, deprivation and lack of positive opportunities - leading to an uptick in violent crime.

London could see a spike in violent crime due to the impact of the cost of living crisis, Sadiq Khan has claimed. Photo: Adobe

He said: “Tackling violence and making our city safer is my number one priority.

“One death is one too many, with every death leaving lives destroyed, communities hurting and families heartbroken.

“We must acknowledge the spiralling cost of living could make things even more challenging and even risk taking us backwards.”

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found:

  • Knife crime in London fell by 7% in 2021;
  • Gun crime reduced by 18% in the capital in 2021;
  • Teenage murders in London dropped by 64% in the first five months of 2022;
  • And total homicides in the first half of 2022 have also declined by 26%.

It comes as violent crime rose across England and Wales at more than double the rate in London in 2021.

City Hall analysis on the causes of violence highlighted links between deprivation, poverty and vulnerability to crime.

Six of the 10 boroughs with the highest increases in unemployment over the pandemic were also among the top 10 boroughs for serious violence.

Relationships between food insecurity and crime are also key, with seven of the boroughs with the largest increase in demand for food parcels also in the top 10 for serious violence.

While the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) found a relationship between increasing unemployment rates and rises in crime, especially property crime.

London mayor Sadiq Khan. Photo: Getty

The mayor added: “In London, we’ve been tackling violent crime head on by being both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.

“This has resulted in violent crime falling since before the pandemic.

“But the level of violence remains far too high.

“That’s why I’m working closely with the police and community groups across London to provide them with the resources they need; investing record amounts in initiatives to support young Londoners at critical stages in their lives; and doing all I can to support Londoners through the cost of living crisis, while calling on the government to take much bolder action.

“As with poverty, violence is not inevitable.

“The progress we have seen in London proves that by working together to tackle crime and addressing its complex causes, we can help save lives and make our communities safer.”

Commander Alex Murray, violent crime lead at the Met Police, said: “Tackling violent crime and what drives it is the top priority for us all in the Met.

“Officers across London have been doing all they can to bear down on it while working with partners to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“Officers do this with such passion because they see first-hand how violence ruins the lives of victims and their families – it’s what motivates them.

“We know there may be challenges ahead of us as we head into the summer months and there is more we can all do.

“We will continue to build on the successes and inroads we have made to drive violence levels down.

“Protecting Londoners and keeping communities safe is at the very forefront of our focus.”

And Ben Lindsay, CEO and founder of Power the Fight, said: “We continue to work closely with London’s violence reduction unit (VRU) in our shared ambition to tackle violence affecting young people through support for families and our communities.

“The VRU’s focus on families, the importance of education, youth work and funding so that communities can enact change in their neighbourhoods, is the right approach if we are to tackle an issue that has blighted London for too long.

“We have seen the impact poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunity has had on communities, and more needs to be done across the board to cushion the impact of cost of living on those most vulnerable in society.”

The VRU was founded by Mr Khan in 2019 and led the way on tackling violence rooted in prevention and early intervention.

It invests in activities, guidance and opportunities for over 70,000 young people, families and communities, while tackling school exclusions and championing youth work.