Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey claims he has the street skills to tackle crime in London because of his upbringing and youth work experience.
He dealt with criminals working as a youth worker for 25 years, and also witnessed criminal activity such as drug use while growing up in Ladbroke Grove.
Mr Bailey said that he is committed to delivering more police officers on the street, a return to a patrolling model, knife disposal bins, a zero tolerance approach to crime and 800 new detectives by the end of his first term if he is elected Mayor of London in May 2020.
Mr Bailey said: “If you’re going to deal with crime in London, you have to say to criminals: ‘It’s me and you, bro, it is on’.
“I have a professional experience, I know where these people hide, I know what’s going on.”
The way Mr Bailey plans to tackle the crime epidemic in London, with 74 homicides this year as of 17 July, is by putting more police officers on the streets and tackling ‘low-level’ offences such as vandalism.
He said this would combat the ‘broken window effect’, where visible signs of crime, antisocial behaviour, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further criminal activity.
He said: “You’re not born a burglaring murderer are you? You work your way up the criminal scale.
“That’s why if you can nip that in the bud you do communities a real favour, particularly poor communities that suffer more from this low level crime, low level disruption.”
Anti-knife crime charity XLP work across nine boroughs with over 1,600 young people each week, working closely with individuals on estates where they are most vulnerable.
An XLP spokesperson said: “Our aim is to keep young people at risk in schools out of gangs.
“Through our one to one mentoring, programmes and our mobile youth groups, we recognise that we are not the solution, but we are part of the solution to prevent the ‘broken windows’ which Shaun Bailey refers to, from breaking in the first place.”
Mr Bailey said tackling low-level crime saves the police, local shops and individuals money but that ultimately it is not about saving money, it is about saving lives.
He said: “I come from Ladbroke Grove, we were swamped with that kind of crime and it just made the estate feel like the wild, wild west, people did mad things and things escalated.”
Mr Bailey said he grew up with boys who smoked a lot of weed and went to bed at four o’clock in the afternoon and woke up at four o’clock in the morning.
He believes in rehabilitation but believes that drug users have a level of responsibility where they should try and help themselves.
He said: “Legalisation is a bridge too far because you will grow the drug market and there will always be vulnerable people who become addicted and I don’t want to support that.”
Mr Bailey claims that he wrote to the Mayor about the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) a year before Mr Khan heard the word and begged him to get involved, but received no response.
A spokesperson for Mr Khan said that the current Mayor of London launched London’s VRU in September 2018, seven months after Bailey first wrote about it but added that work to set it up had started months before this launch date, with a public health approach already well under way in the capital.
A spokesperson for Mr Khan added: “Sadiq has taken a public health approach to tackling the scourge of violent crime since he was elected, and has funded a new Violent Crime Taskforce, taking weapons and offenders off our streets, as well as setting up the VRU to tackle the causes of crime.
“He has done so against a backdrop of huge cuts to police and youth services by this Tory Government – started when Shaun Bailey was an adviser on youth and crime in number 10.
“Even the new PM has now accepted the link between cuts and rising violent crime – but Shaun Bailey is still in denial. He is not fit to be in charge of Londoners’ security.”