Mayor answers to London

Knife arches

Question number2497/2008
Meeting date12/11/2008

Question by Steve O'Connell

How successful has the implementation of knife arches and the use of wands into high risk schools been at:

· Reducing the number of knives in and around schools?

· Reducing the number of knife related offences after school hours and on home to school transport routes?

· Increasing pupil perception of safety during school hours?

Answer by Boris Johnson (1st Term)

I ensured that Operation Blunt 2, which includes the use of knife arches and wands, has all the support it needs to run effectively across London. It is an assertive, and sometimes controversial, operation but one that I believe has been worth the substantial effort made so far. More than 4,000 arrests for possession of weapons and crimes involving the use of knives and over 2,600 knives have been recovered. However, whilst enforcement activity is essential in tackling this issue, the most important focus for us is a preventative approach that provides real opportunities to young people.

It will always remain difficult to assess the impact of such deployments given that their preventative impact is largely hidden. The MPS informs me that feedback to police officers engaged in operations suggest that they are broadly welcomed and act to reassure many young people who are concerned about knife crime. The presence of police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) in and around schools and transport hubs will in any event reassure most young people.

I am confident that pupils feel safer when knife arches and wands are deployed tactfully and sensitively in schools. Recent responses to surveys about the deployment of knife arches and screening equipment have provided a figure of 79% of pupils feeling more reassured through the use of knife arches at key locations on routes to schools.

Main question

Steve O'Connell