Zac Goldsmith attacks Theresa May over knife crime deaths

The home secretary Theresa May's crackdown on the police use of stop and search could have caused more people to die from knife attacks, the Conservative frontrunner to be London mayor suggested today.

Zac Goldsmith told LBC that Theresa May's decision to reduce stop and search by an "arbitrary figure" may have contributed to a "spike" in knife crime.

A 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death in a suspected gang fight this week, the tenth person to die from knife crime in London this year.

"People from the left and the right in the police think we have gone too far and I wonder whether that might be one of the reasons why we're seeing an increase in knife crime," Goldsmith told Nick Ferrari.

"It is a valuable tool. Any copper is going to tell you it is a valuable tool. I wouldn't want to restrict that tool."

He added that the government needed to take a "more grown up approach" to the issue.

Goldsmith, who is the bookies favourite to emerge as the Tory candidate, has been a repeated critic of May's more liberal policing policies.

Earlier this year he attacked the home secretary for refusing to licence the use of water cannon in London, describing her decision as "odd".

If selected, he will face Labour's candidate Sadiq Khan. Khan, who is a former human rights lawyer, has insisted he would do "everything in my power" as mayor to reduce the use of stop and search.

He has also ruled out using water cannon in London.

Yesterday, the Liberal Democrats announced that their London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon would be their mayoral candidate. She will be joined by former mayoral candidate Sian Berry for the Greens. Ukip have yet to select their candidate.