Continuing our series where shortlisted Conservative candidates for Mayor of London give their views on key issues. Today it’s how they would cut crime.
Over the past seven years has seen the Met Police deal with an unprecedented increase in demand alongside reductions in their budget – while still achieving record levels of public satisfaction and reductions in crime. However it continues to be too bureaucratic, top-heavy and delivering inconsistent coverage. More services will be provided at a local ward level – paid for by abolishing Borough commands. The Commissioner must have the freedom to precinct London in the most effective way to fight crime – making it easier to establish London-wide standards while also increasing provision in local communities.
There will be a more ambitious use of technology in crime fighting: body-worn video cameras, panic buttons and new ways of reporting incidents need to become the norm. Police will also get better at tackling new and often technology-based crimes too.
London needs to have a conversation about how to deal with drugs: MOPAC will host an international conference to discuss alternate options – including the decriminalisation of cannabis or consumption rooms.
Tackling human trafficking will be a priority with specialist police training introduced to help them spot the signs of trafficking and provide support. A London wide protocol for the policing of sex-work will be introduced – current practices are making some very vulnerable people even more unsafe.
Neighbourhood crime has fallen under Boris by a fifth ; and murder and burglary rates are at record lows. But there are signs that some of that progress is slipping, and that successes have been uneven across the boroughs . Violent crime and hate crime is increasing across London . Retail crime is a significant problem and likely under-reported. And, whilst youth reoffending rates are falling, three quarters of adult criminals are re-offenders .
In addition to this, the police face financial constraints. Much of that can be accommodated through efficiencies, but not all. I will lobby government to ensure London gets a fair deal in police funding to ensure the Met is properly financed to continue making our communities safer.
Sentencing can play a big role, and I was pleased to support my friend and colleague Nick de Bois’s campaign to beef up sentencing in relation to knife crime. But we also need a focus on early intervention. I have spent time with a number of organisations who succeed – on tiny budgets – in steering children away from crime. We need to identify the best grassroots organisations and back them.
We also need to continue to crack down on the low-level nuisance crime, such as graffiti and anti-social behaviour, which can blight communities and neighbourhoods.
During my time as Boris’ Deputy Mayor for Policing & Crime, I have ensured that Police strength is back to 32,000 officers and that crime levels have fallen.
As Mayor I will ensure that police strength is maintained and that crime continues to fall. There is also more whcih needs to be done to make the criminal justice system more efficient at dealing with criminals and the victims of crime. Justice delayed can mean justice denied and as Mayor I will work with government to ensure that our systems of criminal justice in London become fit for purpose and effective.
I am delighted that crime figures continue to fall but one victim is still one too many. We all know crime can not be tackled by the police alone but I am concerned about the level of cooperation between police and the community. For many people their only interaction with the police is when they report a crime. This leads to a vacuum where no one thinks to report anything or offer help. We need to make sure that community engagement isn’t just seen as a tool but is a something where the whole community becomes involved in cutting crime. There are lots of community-led schemes in London and we need to be rolling these out across our city. Where trust is an issue, if the trial of body worn cameras is a success, then I hope they will also act as a way to stop the small minority of officers who may be tempted to overstep the mark, while making sure that unfair accusations made against the police are not allowed to stick either. We also need to get the balance right on CCTV between the rights to security and privacy.