QUESTION: Everyone agrees that knife crime has spiralled out of control and we need more police and resources, but what would you do with the current level of officers and resources to tackle the problem on your first days in office?
Labour candidate – Sadiq Khan
“I have a clear plan for being tough on crime, but also on the complex causes of crime and this includes taking action to reduce school exclusions and giving young people constructive things to do.
I have invested more than £1bn in policing and more than £70 million in youth services through the Young Londoners Fund, benefitting over 110,000 young people across our city.
If re-elected I have also pledged to ensure every young Londoner in need has access to a mentor. This is a deeply personal pledge as my life was changed by the one I had growing up.”
NOTE: That in the printed version of the Southwark News on Thursday April 29th Sadiq Khan did not provide any answers to our questions in time so we based his responses on his manifesto.
Conservative party candidate – Shaun Bailey
“I’ve got a ready-to-go strategy for my first 100 days in office.
Before lockdown homicides were at their highest in 11 years and knife crime up 60%. We cannot go from the pandemic into a crime epidemic.
I’ll implement Operation Blunt 3.
We will have a massive surge of police presence across our streets and rollout CCTV on all of the Tube lines and bus stops to tackle sexual harassment.
I’ll implement scan-and-search and stop-and-search across London in public spaces to get knives off the streets all in 100 days, we don’t have any time to waste.”
Liberal Democrat party candidate – Luisa Porritt
“Liberal Democrats want a return to proper community policing, where police officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people.
The Met Police has a multi-billion-pound budget so this is about priorities.
A ward team used to have four officers in it and we commit to returning to those levels by 2024.
We will also establish a London Youth Service to help coordinate and improve access to activities for young people after school.
The services that do exist are often not joined up and we want the best work to be showcased and learnt from.”
Green Party candidate – Sian Berry
“I have set a target for zero murders in London within ten years.
Real leadership means taking a truly preventive approach to violence, where you have to work to make the whole of society a place where violence cannot thrive, and that includes things like fixing the housing crisis so that people facing danger at home know they have options.
In the London Assembly I have exposed cuts that have closed over 100 youth centres, and won new funding, but we must go further.
I also believe police need to be diverted from mass stop and search to being part of this mission, working within local communities.”
UKIP Party candidate – Peter Gammons
“I will restore community police on the beat and open up sub-stations in every community.
So much crime goes unreported because the police are now so inaccessible.
Both the current mayor and the Police Commissioner need to go.
We must end two-tier policing in London. At one rally they take the knee and at another they take the baton. The double standards just serves to cause greater division in communities.”
London Real Party candidate – Brian Rose
“I’ve heard a lot of ambitious pledges about tackling knife crime but the brutal truth is that countless ‘solutions’ have been proposed over the years and yet the stabbings continue in Southwark and elsewhere.
Faced with depleted police numbers and damaged communities, the first thing I will do is listen to those on the front line – community organisations that have been wrestling with the knife problem for years, and police who have been left to pick up the pieces by political leaders who really don’t give a damn, to agree a short-term plan of action.
When it comes to knife crime, it’s clear that no one ‘knows best’, least of all politicians – we all need to work together to deal with the roots of the problem, not just the tragic outcomes.
Trust is central, and the slashing of community policing resources has been a disaster – this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
I will also work with police, the Home Office and community bodies to launch a huge weapons amnesty. And I’ll start recruiting 10,000 more officers, from the communities which they are supposed to serve.
Unlike my Mayoral opponents, I have a costed plan to pay for these police and their training – plus improved training for all officers.”
The Reclaim Party candidate – Laurence Fox
“I have promised parents that if their sons are foolish enough to be caught with a knife, they will have a simple choice offered to them at the police station.
I will bring the full might of the law to send them to jail or I will support them back into the community to make the most of their lives.
I will cull the Mayor’s bloated administration by a third and support 10 new police apprenticeships for every City Hall administrator removed. That’s 3,000 new police constables.”
Women’s Equality Party candidate – Mandu Reid
“Everyone agrees that violence against women has spiralled out of control too, and more bobbies on the beat won’t fix either.
We need to stop managing these crimes and start preventing them from happening in the first place. That means taking a whole-society public health approach based on trauma-informed practice, to join the dots between schools, health, housing, youth and other specialist services, as well as workplaces and communities.”
Let London Live Party candidate – Piers Corbyn
“I will end police enforcement of Lockdown and Corona Virus “guidance” destruction of businesses activity and harassment of public standing-up for their rights; and turn them over to civil policing and combating knife crime.
I will set up youth activity centres (often in currently empty commercial spaces) for social meetings, sport and all manner of things including creating alternative media – helping youth GET THEIR LIVES BACK.
I support decriminalisation of cannabis to end the violent conflict over it. This way I will COMBAT THE CAUSES OF KNIFE CRIME.”
Burning Pink Party candidate – Valerie Brown
“We must use a holistic approach to reduce knife crime on the streets.
Youth need to re-engage within communities with mutual respect.
Youth need to be confident they are safe.
We will use the wisdom of young and old to bring about new, caring communities.
Within the first days I will start discussions and planning for Youth Assemblies.”
Rejoin EU party candidate – Richard Hewison
“So far all 3 mayors of London have failed to make an impact on this appalling situation, not I feel for lack of trying.
I believe we need new thinking on this, and an experienced deputy mayor to focus ENTIRELY on this issue in partnership with the Metropolitan Police.
I don’t claim to have any magic solutions myself.”
Social Democrat Party candidate – Steven Kelleher
“Crime destroys lives. Stop and search is controversial but it works.
I will immediately meet Cressida Dick to redeploy officers away from low priority stuff like internet hate crime observation towards community beat officers.
The top 4000 criminals in London cost the community £2.2B per year according to the Met. 10,000 extra police deployed to the right hot spots can make London the peaceful, community city it once was.”
Independent – Farah London
“We need to empower our youth away from gang grooming, and fracture gang culture.
Our youth have been let down and we need to invest back into youth.
I will be introducing free youth academies from the age of 8 – 21yrs of age, that will focus on performing arts, creative and sporting academies.
I will also ensure the fractured relationship between communities and police is addressed, so we can work together to address rising violence.”
Renew Party candidate – Kam Balayev
“I will employ more officers according to each local boroughs’ needs to tackle the spiralling crime under the current Mayor.
I will empower them to pursue the 250 professional gangs operating across the city, who are responsible for at least half of London’s recorded crime.
On day one, I will form a taskforce, working with Interpol, to break up these gangs and rid them from our streets.”
Animal Welfare Party candidate – Vanessa Hudson
“I’d invite the Ben Kinsella Trust to partner with us.
They’re working on halting knife crime through education which, in my opinion, is sorely needed and would tackle the problem before it makes it to the streets, requiring police intervention.
Yet, doing this vital work, they and organisations like them, are funded by charitable donations.
If we genuinely want to stop knife crime we have to get serious with the allocation of funding and resources to addressing the root causes.”
Nims Obunge, independent
“As a co-founder of the peace alliance, I understand how complex and varied the issue of knife crime has become.
Within my first few days in office, I intend to rebuild the relationship between the community, the family and the police. I believe stop and search is first a parents or carers responsibility before it is a policing concern.
I will strengthen the links between families and community led policing, allowing family members and parents to be supported in addressing any suspicious significant activity to our community coaches whose responsibility will be to assist the young person and family make informed decisions.
By employing and empowering local community coaches we will empower parents to check in on any suspect activities of their children and take knives or weapons off their children. These coaches will work closely trusted Community Support Officers and Special Constables towards ensuring we achieve early detection and intervention rates.
Local Police intervention will act when families and communities fail to appropriately intervene.
I intend to reopen the 104 closed youth clubs, meaning that young people would be occupied. Introducing innovation hubs that champion enterprise , the arts and are avenues for education will also contribute to a reduction in knife crime.
My policies on crime is early detection and community-led intervention. Our local Special constables will be representative of the community they serve and will further improve the way the current police service works to ensure a more locally responsive and intuitive service.”
NOTE: That in the printed version of the Southwark News on Thursday April 29th Nims Obunge did not provide any answers to our questions in time so we based his responses on his manifesto.
On Thursday May 6 you will be voting for the next Mayor of London and an assembly member to represent you at a local level.
This election, which was postponed for a year because of the pandemic, has seen more mayoral candidates than ever before. Twenty have stood, including the current Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Voters will be given a pink ballot paper on May 6 with the option of selecting two of their preferred candidates.
Different to General Elections, the London Mayor election uses a proportional representation voting system called the supplementary vote. This involves putting an X in column A for your first choice and an X in column B for your second.
This does not reduce the chances of your first choice being successful, but rather ensures all votes matter as they are counted.
We posed the same five questions on housing, crime, environment, transport and the economy, to ensure that you can see in a balanced way where each candidate stands on these key issues.
Here are the answers on: