Knife crime in the UK is taking a toll on young black men, who are disproportionately being stabbed and killed in the capital, official statistics show.
According to police figures, knife crime rose by more than a fifth in the UK last year, with a third of the recorded 37,443 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument taking place in London.
Black and minority ethnic teenage boys and men were disproportionately affected, as both victims and perpetrators, the city mayor’s office revealed.
“I recognise that there is a disproportionate number of young black males that are getting stabbed and unfortunately being killed,” Nicholas Davies, London police chief superintendent, told Al Jazeera.
“The gangs don’t necessarily follow racial groups, some can be very multicultural, but as a rule we’re finding the biggest threat to a young black male is indeed a young black male.”
In November, 17-year-old Michael Jonas was stabbed to death in a south London park.
Four months on, the police appeal for information.
Jonas’ grieving father told Al Jazeera that “people are being tight-lipped” for fear of being labelled an informant.
“We are facing a barrier, which is people thinking to themselves that if they open their mouth and say something, they are going to be labelled as as an informant or snitch,” he said.
Meanwhile, community leaders have pointed to funding drying up for community centres and other social support structures.
“No investments for the young people, community centres being closed down, no support – it affects their mental health, depression, anxiety stress,” Lorraine Jones, a community activist, said.
Last year, budget cuts affected public services such as schools, police forces and local councils across the UK.
Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips, reporting from London, said: “The mayor, Sadiq Khan, is not responsible for those cuts, but as a high-profile politician in the capital, he is feeling the political heat of the knife crime crisis”.