News | Published February 11 2019

Johnson says knife crime takes precedence over online trolling

In his column for The Telegraph, Boris stated his belief that, in light of rising knife crime, police resources are being misallocated. As an example of this, he cites Katie Scottow, a 38-year-old mother of two from Hitchen, who was arrested for transphobic tweeting in early December 2018.

The former foreign secretary opined that, given the public expense involved in resolving Katie’s case, and given the relatively little harm it caused, resources should not be spent on cases like this.

Although denouncing Katie’s transphobia, he suggests that this should be tackled with moral opprobrium, not force of law.

Where resources should be directed instead, he adds, is toward the alarming rise in knife crime – an issue that plagued his mayoralty.

At this point, he goes into detail about the great difficulties in tackling knife crime, suggesting that a solution to this problem requires that police time and resources are used optimally.

His view on the principal cause of knife crime reads:

“I came to the conclusion that the strongest driver in the knife epidemic was really a perverted sense of fashion … [C]arrying a knife in defiance of the authorities was partly seen as a sign of status, of cool. It was intended to convey a sense of menace and machismo”

This was contrasted with the view that social and economic deprivation were the primary cause. Here he cites the often-heard complaint that, “kids don’t haven’t anything else to do”. The closure of youth centres was regarded as playing an important role in this.

Others, he continues, attribute this rise in violent crime to a lack of male role models and to a degradation of family life, which it is said prompts young lads to look for other, less wholesome ways of achieving a sense of belonging – namely, by joining gangs.

Johnson tells his readers that, while mayor, he saw merit in these views and implemented policies accordingly. However, he states that these solutions only did “some good”.

He also offers readers his view of what an effective, albeit by no means exhaustive, solution looks like: stop and search, carried out “politely”.

When he was mayor, he launched the stop and search programme ‘Operation Blunt’. The result, he reports, was that 11,000 knives were removed from the streets and there were nearly 100 fewer murders in London per year for several years.

Arresting people for transphobic tweets online, he concludes, serves only to sap resources from where it’s needed most: in tackling knife crime.

Authored by

Thomas Wilson
Political Editor
February 11 2019

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