BY JAMIE FOSTER
A quick scan of Sadiq Khan’s Twitter account turns up the usual expected content. World women’s history month appears alongside several tweets boasting about the London Mayor opening the latest artwork to go on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. There are attacks on the Tories for perceived misdemeanours and buy-ins to hashtags like #visitthetheatre.
In amongst all of this there is a tweet that recognises that part of Sadiq’s job is to be concerned with levels of crime in London. It says that it is the Mayor’s job to keep all Londoners safe and, in his role overseeing the police in the capital, this is exactly right. What is very odd in the context of this tweet is that there is nothing said whatsoever about the fact that 10 Londoners have been murdered in the last two weeks.
The latest victim, 26 year old Abraham Badru was shot dead when he got out of his car near his family home in Hackney at 11pm last Sunday. Mr Badru was the son of a Nigerian MP who had previously received an award from the police for his part in fighting off sex attackers from a girl in his local estate. While Sadiq Khan tweets that he is taking steps to keep all Londonders safe, he clearly didn’t manage to keep Mr Badru safe, or any of the other 9 victims over the past fortnight. 10 murders in 2 weeks is not a safety record Mr Khan can be proud of. It is a terrible state of affairs.
This spate of murders across the capital raises the question, is Sadiq Khan doing his job? He is always on hand when a quote about identity politics is needed or where there is a twitter spat on the cards with Donald Trump, but is he doing his job, the job he was elected to do? It is a good question.
In January Sadiq announced a raft of measures to deal with knife crime. This included £15M to be devoted to knife crime and a ramping up of stop and searches across the capital. Despite this we are still in a situation where 10 murders occur in a period of two weeks. Does part of this have to do with the fact that Sadiq Khan is trying to ride two horses simultaneously? Firstly he wishes us to take him seriously as a hard line law and order mayor leading a ramping up in stop and search. This is against his career as a politician who wishes to appeal to voters on the street by standing against stop and search due to its supposed effects on community cohesion. Is the problem that Sadiq has found it hard to decide which side he is on in this debate?
Sadiq has tried unsuccessfully to put the blame on government cuts. In reality tackling violent crime was an election promise that he made which he has failed to deliver on. Announcing new spending and policing initiatives is not going to provide an answer to what is an intractable problem. As long as young people feel that their lives are in danger they will carry knives. Long prison sentences will not deter them as they make the reasonable decision that they would rather be in prison than killed. Not all young people are potential victims carrying knives in order to defend themselves. Some are perpetrators carrying knives in order to kill. Some carry guns to achieve the same ends. Policing needs to deal with this terrible rise in violent criminality. In order to do so the police need support from the top, from the mayor. The Mayor needs to champion a zero tolerance approach to gun and knife crime. It is impossible to see an alternative to tackling violent crime head on. London needs to become a safer place for people to live in. Gangs need to be tackled and police need to be supported to do so.
In the end we need more than tweets from Sadiq Khan. While his views on identity politics and green issues are no doubt fascinating, he has a real crisis going on with violence on the streets of London. Time he put down his twitter and got on with the job he promised to do when he was elected. Otherwise more lives will be lost while we wait for him to act.