Today Livingstone launched his crime manifesto, see PDF here. It was rather overshadowed by his gaffe-prone performance on the BBC London television news last night. Follow this link and move the slider to 5:29 to hear Livingstone complain about the media seeming to labour under the motto “if it bleeds, it leads”. Unfortunately for him, and the families of the boys murdered last night, this appearance on TV was sandwiched between the deaths of two teenagers.
In his document the Mayor acknowledges London’s teen murder problem:
The murders of young people are a critical issue we have to bear down upon by a combination of tough policing targeting the possession of knives, in particular, and policies to get young people off the streets by providing them with safe places, like youth facilities, to go outside school hours.
He uses much more space for spurious graphs showing falling crime. The Mayor relies on recorded crime to kid us that London is getting safer. Recorded crime is only a measure of how many crimes the public bother to report AND the police bother to record. I had £996.58 skimmed out of my bank account last April. The bank replaced it without complaint but they didn’t get their cash back from the Sri Lankan petrol forecourt crew that videoed my PIN. This incident didn’t appear in the Mayor’s crime statistics but it is still a crime – it is simply one that the police don’t want to record. Similarly, when it took 2 hours 10 minutes to report my girlfriend’s stolen car in October 2004 the only reason I stuck it out was because I need a crime number for insurance purposes – incidentally the police did find the car in the end. The four people who gave up whilst I was waiting may have decided that their crimes weren’t worth the wait.
Teenage killings are a specific London problem and one that the Mayor has offered no concrete response to because discussing it undermines his “I have licked crime” rhetoric.
According to Channel 4 Dispatches:
27 out of the 52 teenagers who died last year were murdered in London with Lambeth having one of the highest levels of violent crime in the capital.
According to these numbers London, with 12% of the whole UK’s population, has over half the problem. And it is getting worse. 11 kids in less than three months, or one a week in London alone. The Mayor can rail at the media but there is an underlying truth that they are revealing.