Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly.
I grew up on the streets of London – I’ve spent my adult life volunteering and helping young people improve their life chances. Many vulnerable people I have worked with feel afraid that they could become victims of knife crime or know somebody who already has. Things have got to change – Sadiq Khan’s record of failure on policing knife crime is appalling.
Under Khan’s leadership, London is undergoing a surge in violent crime. Since the beginning of his mayoralty, acid attacks are up 65 per cent, knife crime is up 44 per cent, homicide is up 16 per cent, GBH is up 7.9 per cent and rape is up 36 per cent. Statistically, New York is now a safer place to live than London.
This is very much a problem of leadership. The Mayor’s response so far has been severely inadequate. Whenever he receives bad publicity in the media regarding his knife crime epidemic, his standard response is to issue a press release re-announcing old initiatives that have so far, failed to reverse the trend. A good example of this was the Mayor’s response to the five new year stabbings, when he issued a press release re-asking more schools to take up his knife wand policy – which only had a take rate of 2.4 per cent of all London schools.
There are lots of things the Mayor can do to tackle knife crime – better community engagement, better use of stop and search, and providing preventative initiatives. But one area that has not been explored is the use of emerging technologies – the world is changing, we now have voice-activated smart homes run by Alexa, augmented reality and 3D printers. I want to see how we can take advantage of this changing world, how the police can innovate to tackle all sorts of crime, in particular, high harm crime such as violence and knife crime.
In my recent report on knife crime, Londoners Lives Matter, I have made a number of recommendations: one of the most innovative of which is the use of ‘Smart CCTV’.
The Metropolitan Police Service should be a world leader in embracing innovative technology, but sadly, it’s often years behind other law enforcement agencies – it’s still using Windows XP.
Smart CCTV is an example where the Metropolitan Police Service should be taking a leading role – it polices one of the most heavily-surveilled cities in the world. The problem is, it’s often not used until a major crime has taken place. What if it could be monitored, all the time without the need for huge numbers of staff?
Emerging artificial intelligence technology can be used to aid the fight against crime by detecting it as it takes place. Algorithms now exist that can monitor CCTV and look for suspicious and criminal behaviour in a way that does not infringe on civil liberties. This can also be used to identify objects, therefore can be used to detect knives when shown in a public place. Smart CCTV will help in times of tight budgets as it can free police officers and staff from searching through video footage for evidence. This can also detect crime that may otherwise go unreported or get reported when the perpetrators have left the scene.
The Mayor needs to take an innovative approach to fighting knife crime – indeed, all crime. My report does this. Its recommendations set out a series of modern and upcoming ideas that can be embraced by the Mayor and Metropolitan Police Service. Smart CCTV is an example where London can lead the world in fighting crime – detecting crime as it happens, allowing for an immediate response before a criminal flees the scene, or worst, someone dies. This is an issue for all Londoners’ and all races. We, as the Conservative Party need to solve this issue, otherwise we risk being an irrelevant force in London.