London could face a surge in crime when lockdown is lifted, Sadiq Khan has warned.
The Mayor said the possible spike in offending was “a big concern” for police and youth workers.
Crime in the capital has fallen sharply during lockdown, with fewer than 50,000 crimes recorded last month – down a third on the monthly average for the last year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Brits to stay home on 23 March – and almost every type of crime shot down in April.
Thefts fell from 15,803 offences in March to 7,332 in April – down almost two thirds on the monthly average for the last year.
And violent crime fell 18% on the monthly average, to 15,409 offences – down from 17,647 attacks in March.
Drug crimes were the only category to rise last month, spiking by a third to a yearlong high of more than 5,000 offences.
But speaking at a virtual Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan warned that lockdown could be storing up problems for the future.
“Without excusing criminality, the underlying conditions which lead to crime – deprivation, poverty, lack of opportunity – aren’t just still there, they’ve been compounded by eight weeks of lockdown,” he explained.
The Mayor said his City Hall funded Violence Reduction Unit is working with young people online, using WhatsApp and social media to keep communication going.
And the Met has moved more than 620 officers into new violence suppression units across the city.
These specialist groups will target 250 micro-hotspots where street crime is expected to surge.
But the Mayor said Government help will also be essential to tackle the problem.
“I’m lobbying the Prime Minister to give us support to deal with the causes of crime – to make sure we don’t have a big spike when we come out of lockdown,” he warned.