Met chief says London is ‘fantastically safe’ as homicide rate falls

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  • January 6, 2023
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The Metropolitan police commissioner has described London as a “fantastically safe” city as the force announced a drop in homicide rates last year.

Sir Mark Rowley said the capital was a place to “live, work and enjoy yourself” as he visited a boxing gym in Ilford, east London, on Thursday.

Alongside the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the commissioner met the Box Up Crime founder, Stephen Addison, who set up the club to provide vulnerable young people with a community and a path away from crime.

It came as the force promised it was cracking down on offences targeting youngsters, releasing figures that showed the number of teenage killings halved in 2022.

Rowley said: “London is a fantastically safe global city. Of course no city’s perfect, but if you look at crime rates … it’s a safe place to live and work and enjoy yourself.”

He was pressed on his plan to root out criminal behaviour within the Met after a string of high-profile convictions of officers for serious offences. Asked about his plans to rebuild public trust in Britain’s biggest police force, he said: “I have got tens of thousands of men and women who are fantastic people, who care and want to make a difference.

“Sadly I’ve got hundreds I need to sort out and who shouldn’t be in the organisation and as we do that you’ll hear more. But I’ve got many, many more people who care about Londoners than some of those awful individuals that should never have been police officers.”

The Met has vowed to increase high-visibility patrols and boost community policing focused on preventing robbery after recent figures from Ilford showed 36% of mugging victims were aged 18 or younger. It said there had been 71 arrests for robbery since November.

The total number of homicides recorded under Home Office counting rules for 2022 was 109, which was 17% down on 2021, the Met said. Nine homicides were gun enabled in 2022, a 25% fall and the lowest figure since 2014. Sixty-nine homicides were knife enabled, a 17% reduction and equal to the pre-pandemic figure for 2019.

Rowley and Khan – alongside the Redbridge council leader, Jas Athwal, who helped launch Box Up Crime – heard success stories from a number of young people who have been supported by the gym. Among them was 18-year-old Fabian Williams, who took up horse riding after getting active at Box Up and is now a keen equestrian with ambitions to reach the Olympics.

Others included 25-year-old Reno Turner, who was encouraged by mentors to pursue music under the name Txrner, and the 24-year-old dancer Elvire Mavusi Matu, who now teaches her own classes after setting up the group Konverse Dance Crews.

Rowley said: “They were inspirational stories about young people having their lives turned round by this boxing club. We’re the police, we can suppress violence, we focus as hard as possible on arresting the most dangerous people … but we need partners like this to work with who can grab those kids at the right moment in their life and turn it around and give them purpose.”

Khan said: “We know we cannot arrest our way out of violence and that’s why my violence reduction unit is supporting young Londoners, intervening at critical stages in their lives and providing them with positive opportunities, support and mentors – particularly during this cost of living crisis, so they can succeed and thrive.”

Athwal said: “This visit was a great opportunity to show the new Met commissioner and the mayor of London around Ilford and share the work we are doing to make the town centre safer for our neighbours.”