Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.
In stark contrast to national trends, crime is rising in London and has been for the past four years. Take the example of homicide: the BBC reported in January that homicides were down “for [the] first time in five years across [the] UK” despite rising in London. Beyond statistics, there are individual stories – each one shocking in their own right, but worryingly, people are becoming desensitised to the almost daily reports of more stabbings on the streets of London. But I refuse to sit back and let this continue.
Of all the issues and roles the Mayor of London is ultimately responsible for, policing is the most important. As per the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime, “Sadiq Khan, is the equivalent of the Police and Crime Commissioner and is responsible for the totality of policing in the capital.”
Therefore the Mayor must step up, make tough decisions, and accept that they are accountable for policing and keeping Londoners safe. The buck stops with the Mayor if crime is rising on their watch.
Sadly, Sadiq Khan refuses to take responsibility for soaring crime on his watch. Knife crime is at record levels in London, the murder rate has hit an 11-year high, burglaries are up 38% on his watch. But this Mayor refuses to step up, do his job and take action.
I am leading the fightback against the inaction of the Mayor and a few days ago, I announced my plan to get 40,000 police officers on the streets of London. This is what I meant when I previously stated that London requires ‘New York levels of policing’ in order to restore law and order. This number is more than symbolic: it would make London safer for residents and more attractive for tourists and businesses.
40,000 officers alone will not solve the capital’s unique crime issues but it sends a clear message to criminals – that the police will be rolling deep and have the requisite numbers to actively pursue criminals until their successful prosecution. This will force a change of culture in the city, reset the conversation on crime, and make criminals question when – not if – they are going to be caught by law enforcement.
It is an ambitious pledge but I make no apologies for that. It would require some tough decisions to pay for it, decisions I am ready to take. I would enact an Emergency Crime Budget in City Hall, cutting budgets on marketing, staff ,and union reps and releasing £104 milion for the police.. I would lobby the government for the power to introduce a ‘hotel levy’ – a one per cent charge on hotel bills which would raise almost £50m annually. London is one of the only major tourist destination cities in Europe that doesn’t levy such a charge. And I would embrace technological advancements such as the NYPD Domain Awareness System to save the Met money.
Unlike the current Mayor, I am not simply approaching government with a begging bowl asking for more. I am showing I can take measures myself to fund more officers out of City Hall’s budgets and embracing technology.
As a youth worker of 20 years and someone who grew up in a council house with a single mum, I know the importance of police presence. I know we also have to focus on tackling the causes of crime, which is why I have also announced measures such as my Second Chances Fund, a scheme to divert young Londoners away from crime.
It is because I understand the complex factors that lead to crime that I am best placed to tackle them.
After four years as Mayor, Khan has delivered next to nothing. London simply cannot afford another four years of broken promises and inaction.
So much is at stake on May 7th 2020 for London’s future. I will hope you will join me over the next 10 weeks in doing all we can to deliver victory in London, so we can regain control of crime and make London safe.