Page last updated at 20:51 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 21:51 UK

Blair says murder rate is falling

Sir Ian Blair
Sir Ian said most attacks on young people were not gang-related

London police chief Sir Ian Blair has said murder is not "out of control" - despite the killing of 70 young people in the city in the past 18 months.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said the number of murders in London had fallen over the past five years.

"But the proportion of young people (killed) has risen," he said. "That's why we're doing something about it."

He said 150 scanners installed in Tube stations and extended stop-and-search powers would reduce youth crime.

His comments came in the week that Jimmy Mizen, 16, suffered a fatal neck injury from a shard of glass in Lee, south-east London, and Steven Bigby, 22, was stabbed to death in Oxford Street.

'Knife capital'

Sir Ian said such attacks were "occasionally" gang-related but most were random.

He told BBC London that he did not agree that London had become the "knife capital of the world".

"There are many cities around the world where knives would be pretty common," Sir Ian said.

"Our problem remains always that knives are in the kitchen drawer."

stop and search
Police started using extended stop-and-search powers this week

He said that if you want to reduce youth crime "you've got to start at home".

"You've got to start, as a parent, asking your children what they are carrying."

Sir Ian added: "Every single death is too many. What we have got to try to do is find every method we possibly can to stop this happening."

Sir Ian was joined by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and mayor Boris Johnson as he demonstrated weapon detectors and hand-held scanners at Elephant and Castle Tube station in south London.

This week, police in London began to exercise the power to search people for weapons without reasonable suspicion.

Ms Smith said the extension of search measures provided "a very important public and visible deterrent".

But London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones said stop-and-search "disproportionately targets young people from ethnic minority communities".

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