Criticism as crime on London transport rises 58% in eight years

Lib Dem mayoral contender says increase represents a “worrying trend” over Sadiq Khan’s tenure, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Lib Dem mayoral contender Rob Blackie (credit Andrew King Photography)
Lib Dem mayoral contender Rob Blackie (credit Andrew King Photography)

Sadiq Khan is facing criticism for a 58% rise in crime on London’s transport network since 2016, the year in which he took office.

Figures obtained by Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Rob Blackie reveal that there were 46,531 reported offences on public transport in the capital in 2023, up from 29,413 in 2016.

Blackie said the increase was a “worrying trend” across over the Labour mayor’s tenure, but Khan claimed the rise was due to government austerity, of which the Lib Dems were “co-architects”.

The statistics, released to Blackie in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that reported offences rose over Khan’s first three years in office to reach 40,544 in 2019, before falling during the pandemic, and surging in 2023.

Blackie said: “Sadiq Khan has claimed that sharp rises in violent crime are due to increased numbers of passengers returning to the network after the pandemic, but these figures clearly show a worrying trend across his eight years as mayor.

“Too many Londoners suffer from the fear of crime, and the reality of violent crime. We are seeing crime rising across the capital with trust in the police falling. This is why I am standing for mayor.

“I would make fixing the Met my top priority, putting 500 more officers back on the streets by diverting funding from election gimmicks like the phony fares freeze and ensuring that the police spend more time on tackling serious crime, rather than wasting their time carrying out stop and searches for cannabis.”

The offences covered by Blackie’s data include all types of crime and every mode of transport, from the tube and buses, through to the London Overground, trams, DLR, Elizabeth Line and East London’s cable car.

Responding, Khan said: “We’ve seen, across the country, big increases not just in crime but on public transport. When you consider the people that use public transport, the numbers are huge – five million journeys a day on buses, four million journeys a day on the Tube.

“Public transport is a low crime environment. It’s still too high though, which is why we’re investing [in] 2,500 police officers on public transport, [and] 500 enforcement officers. We’re lobbying the government though for more investment.

“You can’t have 14 years of cuts in relation to the police, but also a situation where TfL [Transport for London] received not a penny in relation to operating revenue since 2015 and expect things to be as fantastic as they should be.”

Khan’s mention of 2015 appeared to be a reference to the fact that the Government decided that year to remove TfL’s annual operating grant from 2018 onwards. The government has however provided TfL with more than £6billion in funding since the onset of the pandemic.

The mayor added: “We are investing huge amounts in TfL. We’re investing huge amounts in public safety, but we could do a lot more with government support. What I’d hope the Lib Dems would do, is join me in lobbying the government.

“I appreciate their embarrassment, because they’re the co-architects of austerity. I appreciate the Lib Dems are embarrassed because for five years of the Conservative government they were inside the room making those decisions. [They should] park their embarrassment – join me, lobby the government.”

Blackie’s attack on Khan comes in the same week that Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall announced she would appoint a “women’s commissioner” and target sexual harassment on the tube if she becomes mayor.

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