Five years on from London 2012, newly released figures suggest that the crime-cutting dividend will never show up as promised.
Along with loudly-trumpeted affordable housing (‘affordable’ for whom?), it was said that the Olympics Effect would take youth into sport and off the street, where idle hands are all too readily occupied with devilish work.
In 2008, (then) London Mayor Boris Johnson declared that “we have the chance of helping some of these young kids who might otherwise go wrong in their lives into that Olympics team in 2012”. And the wider, ripple effect was meant to work outwards, far beyond the composition of Team GB.
So what has been the legacy of the Games that were going to “inspire a generation”.
For the duration of the Games themselves, crime in London reportedly fell by five percent. For a brief period it seemed like a gold-medal winning performance, but unfortunately the positive effect was short-lived.
In the 12 months ending in August 2016, three East London boroughs (Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets) were listed among the top 10 “London boroughs with the most knife crime for under 24s”. The Borough of Newham has experienced a decrease in overall crime rates across recent years, but crimes of violence against another person are up by 222% (that’s two and a quarter times up), and gun crime has also risen by 43%.
Away from the Queen Elizabeth (Olympic) Park and the investment which has poured into it, youth crime is still rising and young people are still hanging around the streets; meanwhile budgets for local government youth services have been cut by a third or more.
Five years on, those Olympic promises now seem as far removed from reality as the Elysian Fields.