Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has defended his record on crime, denying claims that London is less safe now than when he took office.

The Mayor was grilled by London Assembly Conservative leader Gareth Bacon at yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time over crime levels in the capital.

Their exchange follows a spate of violent crime, which saw five deaths in six days across the city.

Mr Khan said he had promised a long-term public health approach to crime, and was delivering with a violence reduction police unit and a £45m fund for underprivileged young Londoners.

The Mayor said: “I’m quite clear that as far as London is concerned we are a safe city. Of course I’m concerned by any incident of personal injury to a Londoner, but we’re doing all we can to keep our city safe.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

(Gareth Bacon)

“There are some metrics where we’re doing less well, some metrics where we’re doing better. It’s also about the context nationally."

Mr Bacon pointed to police statistics showing a 54 per cent increase in knife crime since the Mayor took office, from 9,704 offences in 2015/16 to 15,003 in 2018/19.

Rape and gun crime are also higher than when Sadiq Khan became mayor, he said.

However, burglary was at its highest in January 2011 when Boris Johnson was mayor, with more than 9,063 offences compared to 6,360 last month.

Drug crime and robbery have also decreased from peaks under Mr Johnson’s mayoralty.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

(Crime in London 2010-2019)

But Mr Bacon later expressed incredulity at the Mayor’s claims of safety, describing his response to crime “slow and lacklustre”.

He said: “The Mayor clearly has started to believe in his own spin if he thinks London is safer now than it was three years ago. It takes a special kind of arrogance and complacency to deny that our city is now less safe.

“Sadiq Khan claims to understand the fears of many Londoners who worry about their own safety or their children’s wellbeing on our streets. They will be astonished to hear him claim our city is safer.”