Boris Johnson has accused the police of “wasting time” arresting women accused of being anti-transgender, when he suggests the manpower could be used to tackle knife crime.
The former foreign secretary told the story of Kate Scottow who was arrested by three police officers after she called a transgender woman a man on twitter.
Writing in his Sunday Telegraph column, Mr Johnson asked: “Is this really the right way to fight crime? Is this what our brave police officers signed up to do?
“Are you really telling me that it is a sensible ordering of priorities to round up Twitter-borne transphobes and chuck them in the clink, when violence on the streets would seem to be getting out of control?”
Mr Johnson described the incident as a “peculiar abuse of manpower”, as the NHS reported a 54% increase in stabbings in the year ending March 2018.
'Perverted sense of fashion'
Mr Johnson said that teenagers were not motivated to carry a knife by “fear”, but by “fashion.
He said that he had paid for “ping-pong parlours” and mentoring programmes to tackle knife crime while he was Mayor of London, but that teenagers were really motivated by a “perverted sense of fashion”.
“I am sure that all these interventions did at least some good, but as we wrestled with the crisis I remember coming suddenly to a cynical conclusion about knife crime, and what it was that really motivated a kid to carry a knife,” he said.
“It wasn’t fear; it wasn’t necessity. I am afraid that after talking to endless gang leaders and members I came to the conclusion that the strongest driver in the knife epidemic was really a perverted sense of fashion.
“I decided that carrying a knife in defiance of the authorities was partly seen as a sign of status, of cool.
“It was intended to convey a sense of menace and machismo, and it seemed to us that young people who were carrying a bladed weapon were making a cynical calculation that they would get away with it – because the police would never catch them.”