Throughout the month of February, we’re telling the story of the 21 teenagers who were murdered in 2023. Our campaign, The 21, seeks to remember every victim as a young person with a family and their whole life ahead of them. We want to change the culture of kids carrying knives and becoming involved in violence.

In 2023, 21 teenagers in London were killed as a result of violent crime - with Harry Pitman's death marking the last as he was fatally stabbed 20 minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve.

As part of our campaign, Newsquest London wanted to speak with Sadiq Khan to find out about his current and future plans to tackle violent crime among youths in London.

News Shopper contacted the Mayor’s office to invite Sadiq Khan for an interview, however the invitation was declined, and a written statement provided instead.

We asked a series of questions relating to funding, public spending and what the Mayor was doing to help schools and communities combat violent crime. 

In his statement, the Mayor acknowledged the “devastation” caused by knife crime and the profound impact it had on local communities.

He acknowledged that “every death is a tragedy” and that “one life lost to violent crime will always be one too many.”

The Mayor also wrote of falling homicide rates in London, saying the number of youth homicides killed with knives in London had fallen since 2016.

In the year to March 2023, the Metropolitan Police recorded 12,755 knife related incidents, which accounted for 12 per cent of the national total.

Going forward into 2024, Sadiq Khan outlined plans to tackle knife crime in London by expanding neighbourhood policing and funding 500 additional Community Support Officers to be placed across London.

The Mayor has also outlined additional plans to tackle knife crime extending into London schools.

On October 13, 2023 the Mayor wrote to headteachers of secondary schools across London, following the deaths of teenagers Elianne Andam in Croydon and Taye Faik in Edmonton, outlining resources and available funding to help prevent knife crime.

Currently schools in London are able to request visits from police officers to deliver knife crime prevention talks along with education toolkits.

Schools are also able to apply for grants of up to £5,000 in funding from the Violence Reductions Unit (VRU) towards prevention measures such as CCTV equipment and outreach youth work.

The Mayor has also pledged £10 million funding into providing 100,000 young people in London with a mentor by the end of 2024.

This builds on £24 million of mentoring support previously pledged to help young people in need and is part of £34 million funding in support from City Hall.

The initiative aims to provide one-to-one support for disadvantaged young people in London between the ages of 10-24.

The Mayor also pledged to “continue to put pressure on the Government” to work towards reducing violent crime rates on a national level, that he said was “clearly a national problem” that required funding and action on a larger scale.

In a statement, Sadiq Khan said: “It’s clear that violent crime remains far too high and there’s much more to do.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m devastated for the families and friends of those who have lost their lives to violence.

“As both an MP and Mayor, I've met with many bereaved families and communities and have seen first-hand the profound and long-lasting impact of violent crime.

“Every death is a tragedy and it strengthens my determination to continue leading from the front to build a safer London for everyone. 

“Due to massive Government cuts to policing and youth services, there has been a nationwide increase in violent crime over the last ten years, but thanks to record investment in the police from City Hall and the hard work of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), the first in the country, the number of homicides in London fell last year to its lowest since 2014.

“Homicides, gun crime and the number of young people being injured with knives have all fallen in London since 2016. 

“But it’s clear that violent crime remains far too high and there’s much more to do.

“One life lost to violent crime will always be one too many and I’m determined to continue making progress by being both tough on crime and tough on the complex causes of crime.

“I will also continue to put pressure on the Government to play it’s part in reducing violent crime, which is clearly a national problem that requires action and investment on a national scale on the police and criminal justice system as well as helping to address the underlying causes – like poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities.”