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Policing minister claims Sadiq Khan 'doesn't give police enough encouragement' on stop and search
25 January 2024, 09:19 | Updated: 25 January 2024, 21:25
Policing minister Chris Philp has criticised Sadiq Khan for not encouraging the police on the controversial issue of stop and search.
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Stop and search is controversial because some argue that black people and members of other minority groups are targeted unfairly.
In the year to April 2022, police made 27 stop and searches for every 1,000 black people, compared with six for every 1,000 white people. Some 40% of all stop and searches took place in London over the same period.
Others point to London's high level of knife crime, and say that stop and search is effective at getting weapons off the streets.
Mr Khan has previously said that he supports the police deploying stop and search powers "provided they are used lawfully, proportionately and with professionalism".
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He also said he recognised "the disproportionate impact stop and search can have on some communities", adding that it was "vital" that the Met had "the trust and confidence of all Londoners."
Asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari if police lacked confidence in stop and search, Mr Philp said "I think sometimes there is."
He added: "Labour politicians, like Sadiq Khan in particular, don’t give the police the encouragement that they need.
"Stop and search takes knives off the streets, it protects all communities actually".
Mr Philp was announcing a further government crack-down on so-called 'zombie knives' - the third such attempt in recent years. Actor Idris Elba has also recently called for zombie knives to be banned, while Labour has announced its own clamp-down on knife crime.
Mr Philp said that "people carrying knives are more likely to be victims of knife crime.
"There is, particularly among some Labour politicians like Sadiq Khan, a reticence about the tactic.
"When done respectfully - it’s got to be done respectfully - and lawfully, when done in that way it is effective at taking knives off the streets."
LBC has contacted Mr Khan for comment. A spokesperson for the Met declined to comment.
Fresh legislation on zombie knives will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, which James Cleverly said seeks to "close that loophole" on outlawing the weapons.
Zombie knives were first banned in 2016 but ministers hope tighter measures will stop some retailers being able to sell dangerous knives and machetes without breaking the law.
Mr Philp said that the new legislation would "completely ban a whole series of zombie style knives and machetes that we think are unnecessarily, have got no legitimate use and are dangerous.
"And when I say banned, what that means is, it'll become illegal to import them, manufacture them or sell them, or to possess them even in private, even in your own, even in your own home.
"And associated with that in a separate bit of legislation, we're increasing the penalty if you do any of those things, if you import them or sell them or whatever, then there'll be up to two years in prison."
Labour has also said it would crack down on knife crime with strict punishments and helping young people get mired in knife crime.
The party's leader Sir Keir Starmer said a Labour government would launch a £100 million youth programme to tackle knife crime.
He added: "Too many young people are being drawn into squandering their life chances by getting involved in crime.
"Labour will turn this around. We will give young people real support to achieve their potential and stay on track but flout that chance, and they'll feel the full force of the law."
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor has always been clear that he fully supports the Met police around the use of intelligence-led stop and search.
"Stop and search is a key operational policing tool and has an important role to play in keeping Londoners safe and tackling violence on our streets.
“Stop and Search must be intelligence-led, carried out fairly and with respect, and all officers have body-worn video cameras so they can be held to account.
"Sadiq’s Action Plan is working to improve confidence and trust in policing and has introduced stricter oversight of the use of stop and search in our city – including the introduction of body worn video screening for community monitoring groups to address concerns about the disproportionality in the use of these police powers affecting Black Londoners.
“It is absolutely vital that our police service retains the trust and confidence of the communities it serves so that every Londoner, regardless of background or postcode can feel safe, protected and served as we build a better and safer London for everyone.”