Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

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The Labour Mayor of London and a Tory government minister have traded blows over crime in the capital after the stabbing of another teenager on the city’s streets.

A 15-year-old girl died during Wednesday’s rush hour after being attacked on her way to school in Croydon, leading to an outpouring of grief from the local community.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, transport minister Richard Holden described the incident as “absolutely outrageous” and called for “a real change” in society over its approach to young people carrying knives.

But, after defending the government’s own record on tackling knife crime, he accused London mayor Sadiq Khan of failing to “focus” on the issue.

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Mr Holden said there had been “some distractions” in recent months, namely “flip-flopping” over the expansion over the Ultra Low Emission Zone – an issue blamed by many in Labour for their loss in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election and touted as the inspiration for Rishi Sunak’s watering down of net zero policies.

He said: “I think what we should be focusing on is things which really affect people in the city and the Mayor of London is essentially the Police and Crime Commissioner for neighbourhood crime in London, he should really be focused on that.

“I think if it was me, one of my main, sole focuses at the moment would be very much on crime. We’ve seen some real issues in London, particularly with violent crime, particularly amongst young people. I don’t want to see that getting out of control. I want to see those numbers coming down.

“And I think if I was the mayor, that would be my sole focus at the moment, on what we can do to reduce crime in our city.”

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Mr Holden also raised the issue of sexual violence in London, before adding: “I think the new police commissioner is doing a good job at trying to turn that around.

“But I think what it requires is political support in order to do that and political focus. And I think if I was the mayor, that’s what I would be focused on.”

A spokesperson for the mayor hit back at the remarks, saying it was “very disappointing that a government minister seems to think an appalling incident like this is the time for political point scoring”.

Focusing on the incident itself, they said Mr Khan was meeting with police and members of the community in Croydon, adding: “Londoners can be reassured that there are extra police patrols in the area, and the mayor urges anyone with any further information to call the police on 101 or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously.

“Sadiq has pledged to continue working day and night to end the scourge of violence against women and girls, and knife crime in our city.”

Labour frontbencher Ellie Reeves also defended Mr Khan, telling Sky News he was “hugely focused on tackling knife crime in the capital”.

But she said the mayor “needs support from central government in order to make the progress that we need”.

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Ellie Reeves: ‘Mayor hugely focused on tackling knife crime’

Ms Reeves added: “We saw the shocking news of a 15-year-old girl being murdered in Croydon. There is an issue, though, about what the government has been doing to tackle crime because we hear stories like this time and time again, and yet the government doesn’t seem to be taking action on knife crime.

“That’s why Labour have said in government we’d make it our mission to halve violent crime across the decade, putting more police on the streets and things in terms of tackling youth violence, making sure that there are youth workers in custody, street suites in A&E departments, reaching out to those young people and stopping them from getting involved in violence in the first place. And we’re not hearing that from the government.”

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