Sadiq Khan unveils £250K to combat hate in London's transport network

Mayor vows support for Jewish community ahead of mayoral elections


Sadiq Khan has announced £250,000 to help combat hate crime on London’s transport network. The London Mayor made the pledge in the lead up to the mayoral elections amidst an alarming uptick in antisemitic incidents across London.

City Hall will establish a new “Transport Hate Crime Taskforce” and a “rapid response team” to deal with antisemitism and other hate crimes in London.

Khan spoke of the “grief” he felt to know that Londoners are the victims of antisemitism: “It’s heartbreaking.” He said there had been increased police presence at every synagogue and Jewish school in London.

After eight years in office and just over a month until the mayoral election, Khan pledged £250,000 for organisations combating hate, in addition to the £14.8 million already invested in helping victims of hate crime.

Khan made the announcement at a London Jewish Forum breakfast at JW3 on Tuesday.

In his opening remarks, he said, “I can say quite frankly and unequivocally it is possible to be somebody who is passionate about the rights of the Palestinians and to condemn unequivocally the atrocities committed by the terrorist group Hamas.”

When asked about potential “no-go areas” in London, Khan said: “I don’t think any part of London is ‘no go’ but I accept that there are some Saturdays when there is protesting in central London when Jewish people don’t feel welcome in the heart of our city [and] I recognize if somebody is in a provocative way flying a flag it can make you feel unwelcome.”

Khan criticised some of those attending anti-Israel rallies who used banners or chants that, while not illegal, caused “anxiety and distress to neighbours and colleagues.”

“Whether it’s projecting things onto the side of Big Ben, these kind of things, you may not be breaking the law, but why do that when you are causing distress, anxiety and fear to your friends, neighbours and colleagues.”

“Just because you may not be breaking the law, doesn’t mean what you’re saying or doing is right,” he said.

Khan emphasised the importance of the “operational independence” of the police and assured the audience that arrests were being made at the anti-Israel rallies when offences were committed.

Part of the mayor’s plan is a “Transport Hate Crime Taskforce” with Jewish representatives which aims to prevent hate crime before it occurs through dialogue between community organisations and transport chiefs.

A rapid response team will also be created to ensure that “inciteful and hateful graffiti is going to come down within moments, not days.”

The mayor said: “There has been a deeply worrying rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime in London and across the country since October 7, and we need to do everything we possibly can to address this.”

Khan noted, “It was only when I became minister for communities that I understood the link between events in the Middle East and the rise of antisemitism [in the UK].”

Addressing the need for preventative action, the mayor went on: “We need to be even more proactive in preventing incidents happening in the first place and targeting the worst hotspots.”

“This new taskforce will work directly with London's public bodies, helping them bear down hard on violence, hate and intimidation, particularly against women and girls,” said the mayor.

Improvements suggested by the task force might include CCTV or lighting, streamlined responses to racist vandalism, and a more visible presence from transport staff or police.

The announcement comes after a dramatic Community Security Trust (CST) report which showed 4,103 instances of anti-Jewish hate recorded in the UK in 2023, with more than 170 incidents reported on London tubes and buses.

Khan said work was underway to deal with Jewish safety concerns when travelling between Stamford Hill and Golders Green via Finsbury Park. Several JW3 audience members asked him about the 210 bus route between the two Jewish areas. Khan said: “It breaks my heart that I’ve got Jewish friends who hide their Magen David.”

In December, a Jewish man was allegedly attacked at a Finsbury Park bus stop in an “unprovoked antisemitic attack.” According to Khan, extra patrols have been arranged in the area and additional CCTV cameras have been fitted at Finsbury Park Station for routes to Stamford Hill.

Khan said: “No part of London should feel unsafe or unwelcoming to any Londoner, especially our busy transport network.”

“There are some people who are unhappy with what I say”, the mayor noted, referring to members of the Muslim community who are unhappy with the support he has shown the Jewish community.

“I didn’t ask to be somebody who is listened to because of my faith, but I've got a responsibility,” he affirmed, and stated: “Our diversity is our strength not our weakness.”

"There aren’t any hierarchies when it comes to racism,” Khan went on, and acknowledged “antisemitism is probably the oldest form of hatred known to mankind.”

He said that education about antisemitism should be in mainstream schools: “Holocaust Memorial Day is really important to educate people about what can happen as a consequence of having prejudice views in your head, name calling, and ultimately genocide.”

Khan was asked about the women of faith communities and noted: “most extremists and terrorists are also misogynists.” 

He expressed solidarity with the president of the Union of Jewish Students, Edward Isaacs, who spoke of the lack of allyship at British universities towards Jewish students. 

Separately, Khan confirmed he had been due to visit Israel and the West Bank during his term as mayor, but the trip had been postponed due to Covid and he was “keen to go, as soon as we possibly can.”

Khan said he was optimistic about the prospect of representing London in City Hall with a Labour government in Westminster: “The idea of having the wind of a Labour government at my back is so exciting.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive