In February, there were 15 homicides in London, UK. In March, another 22 killings brought the city’s 2018 murder count up to 50. And if the trend continues, London is on pace to surpass the 130 murders it saw in 2017. These numbers reflect a drastic uptick in violent crime. In fact, they represent the first time in the modern era that London has seen a higher murder rate than NYC. In response, politicians, police and public health officials are trotting out the usual line of scapegoats, from budget cuts to rap music. But one politician says legalizing marijuana is the way to end violent crime.
Wave Of Stabbings Crashes Over London
Violent crime is on the rise in London. For the first time in modern history, London has surpassed the homicide rate of New York City. (Although it’s worth noting that New York’s homicide rate is at its lowest in decades.)
Nevertheless, for a city roughly the same size as New York and with similar socioeconomic factors, 50 killings in 2018 is cause enough for alarm.
But the situation in London is especially bloody. Unlike the United States, the UK has strict gun laws, and shootings are relatively uncommon.
But this means most of the murders in the city have been carried out with a knife. 31 of the 50 homicides, in fact, were stabbings.
Far from being randomly distributed, however, most of the violence is tied to gangs. The lethal spats between the groups, police say, are battles over turf.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, however, has keyed in on the stabbings aspect of the issue. Khan is blaming the UK’s lax knife laws for the recent spike in deadly stabbings.
In an April 8 tweet, reported by Fox, Khan wrote “No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”
In the UK, it’s legal to carry a knife with a blade no longer than 3 inches. Longer blades are banned unless the person carrying it has a “good reason.”
Backing up his tweet, Khan has pledged to create a 120-person violent crime task force. The task force will be granted expanded “stop-and-frisk” authority to conduct “targeted patrols” in areas “worst-affected by knife crime.”
Labour Party Blames Conservative Police Cuts For Violent Crime
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is a member of the UK Labour Party, along with popular Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have recently held meetings on the issue of violent crimes.
While Khan placed the blame on lax knife enforcement, Corbyn, for his part, pointed the finger at the conservative Tory party’s cuts to police.
“Ending damaging Tory cuts to police numbers and putting more officers on our streets is essential,” Corbyn told his colleagues in Parliament. According to the Guardian, a recently leaked report from London’s Home Office does indicate that cuts to police “may have encouraged” violent offenders and “likely contributed” to the rise in homicides.
But Corbyn was quick to acknowledge that police were only one part of a solution.
He pointed to Glasgow, in Scotland, where officials have had real success reducing knife crime with an integrated approach.
“Police have worked with education, health and other public services. I’m looking forward to learning more about it,” Corbyn said.
So far, however, few voices have spoken out against what many feel may be the root of London’s new violent crime problem: the illicit drug trade. But one politician says legalizing marijuana is the way to end violent crime.
Vince Cable Wants To Legalize Cannabis To Stop Gang Violence
If London’s increasing violent crime is due to gang battles over territory, then removing the incentive for gangs to control territory might be an effective solution. At least, that’s what the leader of the Liberal Democrats is arguing.
Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Dems, was in attendance at Mayor Khan’s recent summit on violent crime. At the summit, Cable suggested that legalizing “soft drugs” would lead directly to a reduction in violent crime.
The underlying problem, as Khan sees it, is the UK’s “massive drugs problem.”
In a conversation with LBC’s Theo Usherwood, Cable admitted that personally, he’s very anti-drugs. “I’m very puritanical about it. But the simple truth is that by turning over the marijuana trade to the underworld, it’s creating opportunities for them and it’s making things worse.”
The Final Hit: Politician Says Legalizing Marijuana Is The Way To End Violent Crime
Vince Cable doesn’t disagree with the Labour party’s call for an integrative approach to reducing violent crime. He accepts that weak policing, coupled with economic deprivation, lack of investment and job opportunities create the conditions in which violent crime can thrive.
But the drug problem remains the root of it, Cable insists. And that’s why he’s confident legalizing marijuana will directly address the root of violent crime in London.
“In our party’s manifesto, we looked at it very very carefully as a way of reducing crime,” Cable said.