The shocking level of violence on our streets is not only painful to see, it is traumatising for the family and friends of the victims.
Believe me, I know. It is nearly 26 years since my friend Steve Lawrence was killed in front of me. And I can tell you that it still hurts – as if it were yesterday.
Today’s epidemic of knife crime, and the fear it generates, is having a terrible impact on the mental health of our young people. The killing must stop.
‘Today’s epidemic of knife crime, and the fear it generates, is having a terrible impact on the mental health of our young people. The killing must stop. Yet what is the publicity-hungry Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, doing about this?’
Khan, after all, is the Police and Crime Commissioner for London – but the answer is almost nothing.
He has refused to take responsibility or show real leadership. It is all very well for him to roll his eyes and lose his temper when questioned, as he did last week on TV.
The fact is he is failing abysmally – and his failure is costing the lives of our valuable young people on a weekly basis. It is true that in July 2017, the Mayor produced a Knife Crime Strategy – amid much fanfare.
Yet, at the same time, he was cutting the funding for frontline police in the capital – blaming the Government in the process.
Yes, these are tough times financially, but a leader has to know how to put their resources to the best use.
And Khan’s true priorities were shown only last week when it emerged that he is spending a vast £57 million on City Hall staff – £21 million more than his predecessor Boris Johnson – with a 27 per cent increase in the number of posts.
He has previously been attacked for spending £1.7 million on water fountains and £30,000 on a Twitter campaign to boost tourism.
All Khan thinks about is self-promotion in my view – and, in particular, his political career.
‘So here we are, 20 months later, with record numbers of stabbings, yet none the wiser to how the Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy is actually working, what has been implemented or what is to happen next’
It is no secret that his ambition is to become Labour leader in the post-Corbyn era, and then Prime Minister.
I believe that this is what consumes his energies, not the crisis on the streets.
So here we are, 20 months later, with record numbers of stabbings, yet none the wiser to how the Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy is actually working, what has been implemented or what is to happen next.
We don’t even have ‘knife amnesty’ bins in the worst-affected areas, where people are being stabbed.
His latest trick – blaming the violence on our streets on schools and teachers – is a new low even for him. Khan is without a doubt the worst mayor London has ever seen.
What is he doing to help those who have been traumatised and are struggling to recover?
I know from hard experience how hard this is to tackle, and how important.
Or what is he doing to improve the life chances of young Londoners – to support young entrepreneurs who require start-up funding, for example?
More job opportunities would give our young people a real sense of hope.
We need more police, to be sure. And stronger tactics, but only with better cooperation between our communities and the police. Greater use of stop and search might help – but that by itself will not stem the level of knife crime on our streets.
The ultimate fix demands that we heal our young people and our communities. Too many of our teenagers and young adults are suffering from untreated trauma. We must get to them before they get caught up in the drama.
We must cut the pipeline that takes youngsters from school exclusion to pupil referral units then gangs and then to prison.
Londoners will need to realise this is a problem for all of us. It demands resources and real leadership if we want to give our young people hope.
We are fed up with Khan’s excuses.