Sadiq Khan defended his record on tackling knife crime and mistrust in police at People’s Question Time on Wednesday.
The clash comes after two years of rising knife crime in London, with last year breaking the record for the highest number of teenage deaths to stabbings.
The event reached boiling point when Assembly Member Susan Hall discussed the Mayor’s record on crime and police numbers, where she brought up trust in police falling to 49%, having previously been 69% in March.
Hall was met with massive cheers from the audience when she said: “Just to make sure that you all do know that Mayor Khan is actually the police and crime commissioner in London.
“Now, you wouldn’t know that if you listened to him because he sits and blames the government for absolutely everything.
“Whenever something good’s happening, he’ll take credit for it. And when anything goes wrong, he blames the government.”
Khan opened the event by highlighting his successses in building more affordable homes and reducing carbon emmissions, saying: “This is a record of progress and delivery and it’s one I’m incredibly proud of.
“But I’ve also acutely aware that with inflation, saw it with rents spiralling and a vicious cost of living crisis, Life is getting harder not easier for so many Londoners.”
After a quiet section on transport, The Mayor took questions on crime and policing, where he was immediately asked by an audience member: “Why is knife crime increasing so much? Why is it not dealt with? What are you doing to reduce it?”
Khan answered by pointing out that London was bucking the national trend of knife crime, which in on the rise across the country at higher rates than in the capital.
“There’s a direct link between deprivation, poverty, alienation, lack of opportunities and an increase in youth violence, including knife crime.
“In London we’ve had to face massive cuts in our police numbers in the last twelve years, massive cuts to youth clubs, and massive cuts to council services.”
But Assembly Member Shaun Bailey, who ran against Khan as the Conservative mayoral candidate in 2020, hit back and accused him of placing all the blame on the government.
Bailey said: “I sometimes think the mayor hasn’t had a full appreciation of what drives street crime in London.
“We’ve seen no plan, no cohesive plan, on how we’re going to remove weapons from the streets of London.”
Khan responded: “When people like Mr Bailey talk about who’s to blame, they forget from the equation the consequences of those cuts.
“The reason why we’re able to have more police officers, the reason why we’re able to talk money is investment from City Hall, which simply can’t fall the massive cuts left by central government.”