'Sadiq Khan has lost control on knife crime', says Tory mayoral hopeful

JOE MURPHY
Quadruple stabbing: Forensics officers inspect the scene of a knife attack in Camberwell last week: PA

Plans for 1,000 more police officers to fight London’s wave of knife crime were unveiled today by a Tory challenger to Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Shaun Bailey said Mr Khan had “lost control of the streets” and wasted money on a “bloated” bureaucracy.

After four knife deaths in four days in the capital, Mr Bailey called for resources to be shifted to the frontline and pledged that he would invest in cutting-edge technology to track down gang lords if he was elected.

In a stinging attack, Mr Bailey said Mr Khan had shown a “lack of leadership” by blaming government cuts instead of taking the fight to criminals. “Before Khan gets the begging bowl out and complains about the lack of Government funding, he should first cut his own bureaucracy,” he writes exclusively in the Evening Standard.

“Too much of the overall police budget is spent on backroom bureaucrats and not police officers.”

Critic: London Assembly member Shaun Bailey (Matt Writtle)

Mr Khan hit back, accusing Mr Bailey of failing to understand how police funding works in London. Mr Khan argued the rival plan would reduce money for measures aimed at preventing crime, and blamed the Government for a financial squeeze on the Met.

The row puts crime levels at the forefront of the battle for City Hall when Mr Khan stands for re-election in 2020.

It follows months of rising concern about a surge in violence linked to drugs gangs in the capital. At least 58 people have been fatally stabbed since the beginning of the year. There were 1,438 stabbings in London in the first four months of 2018, according to Metropolitan Police figures.

The monthly total of knife crime incidents was 1,030 in July 2016, shortly after the Mayor took power, but the figure rose to a peak of 1,371 in June this year.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan (PA)

Mr Bailey’s plan to shift resources from desks to the frontline is the first policy announcement by the former youth worker, one of three Conservatives vying for the chance to be the official challenger to Mr Khan.

He vowed to bring in ultra-efficient artificial intelligence used by New York Police Department, in which gang leaders are targeted using a database combining records from 9,000 CCTV cameras, 500 car numberplate readers and callouts from citizens. The mass of information is then analysed by intelligent software to spot links between criminals and incidents.

Mr Bailey said the NYPD’s database, called Domain Awareness System, “drastically” cut crime in the Big Apple, producing savings there of £37 million a year. He estimates it would cost £7.5 million a year to set up and run a similar system for the Met but would generate savings of £32 million a year — the equivalent cost of 540 extra officers.

Secondly, he would slash spending on the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime [Mopac], which he said had become too big and wasteful.

Mr Bailey said he would cut Mopac’s budget to be in line with other policing bureaucracies, a drop of £32 million a year which could fund 587 officers.

Controversially, Mr Bailey argues that cuts cannot be blamed for problems in a capital where £337 was spent per Londoner on policing compared with £222 in Merseyside and £186 in the West Midlands. Critics of Mr Bailey will point to London’s special policing headaches such as protecting Parliament and the royal family.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “The cuts outlined by Shaun Bailey today would mean slashing Mopac investment in the preventative services that stop young Londoners turning to crime in the first place.” He claimed this would mean less funding for community groups and charities, as well as “cutting all funding to tackle violence against women and girls”.

The spokesman added: “That is not at all surprising when you look at Shaun Bailey’s record of cutting police and preventative services as an adviser to David Cameron on youth and crime.” Mr Bailey’s aides denied this claim as he was not at the Home Office.