London is 'fantastically safe,' says police chief amid drop in killings

Sir Mark Rowley also promised to root out criminal behaviour within the Met

Metropolitan Police officers at a fatal stabbing in a south London park in December. PA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

London is a “fantastically safe” city, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said as the force announced a drop in the number of killings last year.

The head of Britain’s biggest police force said London was a place to “live, work and enjoy yourself”.

But he was also pressed on plans to root out criminal behaviour within the Met after a string of high-profile convictions of officers for serious offences.

Sir Mark was appointed in July after Cressida Dick stepped down, partly due to those controversies, after five years as London’s first female police chief.

“London is a fantastically safe global city. Of course no city’s perfect, but if you look at crime rates … it’s a safe place to live and work and enjoy yourself,” he said.

“I have got tens of thousands of men and women who are fantastic people, who care and want to make a difference.

“Sadly I’ve got hundreds I need to sort out and who shouldn’t be in the organisation and as we do that you’ll hear more.

Mark Rowley was appointed in July after Cressida Dick stepped down. PA

“But I’ve got many, many more people who care about Londoners than some of those awful individuals that should never have been police officers.”

The total number of homicides recorded for 2022 is 109, 17 per cent down on 2021, the Met said.

Nine involved gun in 2022, a 25 per cent fall and the lowest figure since 2014.

A total of 69 homicides involved knives, which was a 17 per cent reduction and equal to the pre-pandemic figure for 2019.

The Met has also promised to crack down on offences targeting youngsters, releasing figures which showed the number of teenage killings halved in 2022.

On Thursday, the commissioner and London mayor Sadiq Khan visited a boxing gym in East London that helps people steer clear of crime.

“We’re the police, we can suppress violence, we focus as hard as possible on arresting the most dangerous people … but we need partners like this to work with who can grab those kids at the right moment in their life and turn it around and give them purpose,” Mr Rowley said.

Mr Khan added: “We know we cannot arrest our way out of violence and that’s why my Violence Reduction Unit is supporting young Londoners, intervening at critical stages in their lives and providing them with positive opportunities, support and mentors — particularly during this cost-of-living crisis, so they can succeed and thrive.”

They met Box Up Crime founder Stephen Addison, who set up the club to help vulnerable young people.

Among them was 18-year-old Fabian Williams, who took up horse riding after getting active at Box Up and is now a keen equestrian with ambitions to reach the Olympics.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 6:01 AM