Find out how much knife crime is in your area using our searchable tool
Knife crime in London is rising at its fastest rate in five years with more than 40 incidents reported to the police every day, the Telegraph can disclose.
Warfare between rival drug gangs combined with spiralling street robbery rates are contributing to the surge in violent offences.
Gun crime in the capital is also on the increase with shootings up more than six per cent on the same period in 2022.
Despite Scotland Yard’s express determination to bear down on violent crime there have been more than 90 homicides in the capital this year, 20 of them teenagers.
Data analysed by The Telegraph shows an average 43 knife-related incidents reported to the police in London every day.
One front-line officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the level of violence on the streetswas the worst he had experienced in more than two decades.
“It really does feel like things are getting out of control,” he said. “The volume and the ferocity of the violence that we are seeing is off the charts. I have been on the job for almost 25-years and I have never known it as bad as this.
“Almost every day we are seeing stabbings and shootings and it feels like the public are oblivious to the scale of it.”
The officer, who works in the Met’s murder squad, said the vast majority of stabbings and shootings were gang-related with rival factions fighting over the lucrative drugs trade.
He said: “Ultimately it is all about money, but violence can explode for the smallest of reasons and before you know it you have gang members, many of them very young, carrying out tit-for-tat attacks.
“Drill music and the use of social media have made things so much worse. You have online squabbles that escalate so quickly into violence.”
Knife crime is on the rise
Number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, year ending June, England and Wales
The gang network in London is vast with more than 200 separate organisations boasting an estimated 46,000 members, some as young as 10.
While some of the smaller gangs might operate out of a single block on an estate, others can control entire London postcodes, even branching out of the city with so-called county lines operating into towns and villages many miles away.
In 2022 the Met was forced to overhaul its controversial Gangs Matrix database amid accusations it was racist.
Scotland Yard’s use of stop and search has also declined during a time when knife crime with injury has been on the increase.
While the recent uplift programme saw 30,000 new police officers recruited throughout England and Wales, the Met was the only force that failed to hit its target and many within the rank and file believe they remain under-resourced.
The issue of crime in London is likely to be one of the key battlegrounds in the next mayoral election. Susan Hall, the Tory candidate who will be challenging Labour’s Sadiq Khan, said the structure of the Met needed reforming in order to meet the growing challenge.
She told the Telegraph: “This is a complex issue and clearly there is not one single reason why it is happening and not one single solution that can resolve it. But I would agree that things are very serious at the moment.
“Crime has absolutely spiralled since Sadiq Khan came in but there are also structural issues within the Met that need addressing.
“For the police to get on top of this problem we need to have proper neighbourhood teams embedded in the community. Far too often these officers are being abstracted from their neighbourhood role and dragged onto response teams to fill gaps there.
“I have never been a fan of the big BCUs [basic command Units]. I think borough-based policing is absolutely essential.”
Ms Hall, a former member of the London Assembly police and crime committee, also believes there needs to be more police presence in the communities where these crimes are taking place.
‘We need more bases’
“Many people in London want and need to see their local police stations opened again. Given that we are increasing the number of police officers, we absolutely need to increase the number of bases.”
But she said the problem of violence was a matter for society generally.
“There has been a massive reduction in respect for anyone in authority and unless we get that back we are going to be in for a hell of a time.
“How have we got to this situation where kids are running through the streets with machetes? It’s an absolute disgrace. The most difficult job in the world is to be a parent, but it is also the most rewarding. You have to teach your kids right from wrong.”
Knife murders hit a record high
Number of homicides committed with a knife or sharp instrument
Sheldon Thomas, a former gang member who is the founder and chief executive of Gangsline, agreed that the failure of proper parenting was making it easier for gangs to groom and recruit new members.
He said: “Young people are being influenced by what they see on social media rather than by their parents. Lots of parents are not at home because they are out at work all week trying to make a living.
“I remember a member of a gang once saying to me, ‘If you are not going to raise your children, we will raise them for you’.
“Social media and street gangs are raising our children while parents are trying to make ends meet.
“Parents are not at home, young people are bored and they get sucked into Snapchat and other social media accounts.
“The average parents in the UK do not know what their children are getting involved in on social media, the average parent is even scared to go into their children’s room. Parents don’t know who their children are friends with,” he added.