The Conservative party candidate for London Mayor, Shaun Bailey, has condemned what he calls an “upward trend of crime” in the capital.
Bailey accused incumbent mayor Sadiq Khan of a fundamental misunderstanding of what drives crime, ahead of May’s mayoral elections.
It comes amid the release of new data from Scotland Yard, which revealed there were 288 incidents where a lethal firearm was discharged in 2020.
Bailey, 49, said: “The natural response to a lockdown would be to believe that crime had gone down.
“But lockdown has demonstrated that the way in which Khan has dealt with crime over the proceeding four years has meant it is just rolling along like a juggernaut.”
Bailey, who was elected to the London Assembly in 2016, also took aim at Labour candidate Khan’s approach towards the causes of crime.
He said: “The Mayor has always spoken as if it’s just poor people committing crime. If he knew anything about poor people then he’d realise that the vast majority have nothing to do with it.
“What needs to be remembered is that crime has a fraternity: a group of people who are professionals at many different levels, and at the lowest level, they suck vulnerable people in.”
In 2019, an analysis published by City Hall revealed a strong link between youth violence and Londoners affected by deprivation, poor mental health and poverty.
As part of his campaign, Bailey recently pledged to hire 40,000 police officers to send a “clear message” to criminals.
He added: “We have to find a way to buck the trend of rising crime that Sadiq Khan has let roll, and the first part of that is to get the number of police officers up.
“The figure of 40,000 police officers is not random, it’s about giving the police the man and woman power – the boots on the ground – for follow up.
“When I’ve talked about Sadiq Khan’s failing on crime, one thing that is misunderstood is that if the police don’t follow up, it’s sending a message to criminals that they will not get caught.”
There are questions over how Bailey would fund the recruitment of 40,000 police officers with a £1billion gap in the Metropolitan Police budget, and he admitted he doesn’t believe it to be all Khan’s fault.
Bailey said: “It would be easy for me to sit here and say the Government is innocent, but they aren’t.
“Of course it would be easier to take Sadiq Khan seriously, if he hadn’t, as one of his first acts as Mayor, removed £38million from the police salary budgets.
“The minute he did that the police were on a downward trend.”
But for the Conservative candidate, it is not all about law and order.
Bailey said: “This is more than just crime and we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.
“We have a number of young people on a carousel in and out trouble. What I want to do with the adult education budget is start a second child’s fund to give those young people access to proper training, proper skills that they can use in the job market.
“There’s also an emotional element to this, and it is backing the police. Often if you speak to police officers privately they’ll tell you that they’re nervous about enforcing a law because they think they’ll be tried in the press and that’s terrible.
“If we have a police service that’s nervous then we are in trouble.”
Bailey also made headlines last year with a promise to provide 100,000 shared-ownership homes in which buyers would be able to purchase a share for £100,000.
He said: “I spent nearly 10 years homeless: sofa surfing, going from aunts to uncles and good friends at university just moving around.
“That process was broken because of shared ownership. But the shared ownership scheme wasn’t as good as the one we have now.
“What I am trying to do is give people an opportunity to get on a much lower rung of the housing ladder.”
However, Bailey sparked controversy after suggesting in an interview with Inside Housing that homeless families could save up for a £5,000 deposit to buy a share in one the new affordable homes.
Asked whether he stood by this, the mayoral candidate said: “I was widely misquoted on that. What I said was that this scheme would be open to everybody.
“My own journey through homelessness taught me that lots of Londoners work hard to remain poor, quite frankly.
“Most people in London with housing needs are not eligible for social housing. Yet they have massive housing needs.
“And there’s some people who are eligible for social housing who are in social housing, if they had another route they could do other things as well.
“What I want to do is to provide the broadest housing opportunities for everyone. We’ll always need social housing, it’s one of the great marks of British civility, and we’ll build more and more of it.
“But we also have to provide intermediate housing, because it stops people slipping back and increasing the need for social housing.”