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Working to solve the violent crime epidemic

PICTURED: Conservative London Assembly member Shaun Bailey

IT IS shameful that violence on our streets has become far too common under Sadiq Khan’s leadership.

There has been a 44 per cent rise in the victims of knife crime since 2015. All violence is up 10 per cent.

There have already been 62 murders this year, 39 from knives.

It is clear, too many of our boys and young men are dying.

I want to see a London that’s safe for us to walk down the street, use the Tube and go about our general business.

I welcome the launch of the new violence taskforce by the Metropolitan Police Service. There’s more money for community groups and preventative work.

The Mayor has also changed his stance on stop and search. Before he came to power he pledged to do everything in his power to cut stop and search, then in January this year he promised “a significant increase”.

As someone who has grown up in London, the disproportionate use of stop and search has always been an issue of concern for me.

The impression that many of us in the black community have is that this tactic is sometimes used as a means to unfairly target our young men.

This is not to say that this policing tool is not needed, but stop and search should be used to protect us, not target us.

Official statistics demonstrate the unfairness of stop and search. Young black males are more than 10 times more likely than white males to be arrested for drug offences, and eight times more likely to be stopped and searched. This is despite the fact that the most recent Crime Survey of England and Wales shows drug usage among white people is almost twice that of black people. Indeed, it is probably the case that most Londoners would prefer the police to prioritise stop and search so that it targets knife crime and saves lives.

Yet, until recently, only 15.5 per cent of stop and searches were related to knife crime, compared with 60 per cent that were related to drugs.

Bearing in mind the unfairness around the pursuit of drug offenders, this partly explains why young black men and boys are disproportionately more likely to be stopped by the police.

I have previously called for reform of stop and search to help address this imbalance.

It is positive that the Mayor and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are not showing the first signs of shifting their official stance.

Figures out this month show the number of searches for knives has increased by a staggering 61 per cent.

This demonstrates that the police are finally starting to listen and are now using stop and search more to save lives.

However, there is more to good policing than improving stop and search.

The primary task of the Mayor and the police is to ensure that Londoners feel safe, particularly those living in communities most affected by violent crime.

But improving current community safety would require the MPS to be better at catching those violent criminal acts.

The Metropolitan Police's own figures show that, under this Mayor, the number of perpetrators caught for using a knife when committing violence or robbery has fallen.

What this means is that the data that I have obtained clearly demonstrates that perpetrators are now more likely to get away with committing crimes when using a knife than in 2015.

This does not help us get justice for all of those young lives that we have recently lost to violence in our communities.

One key problem with this trend is that it sends the message to London that those who commit knife crime are now less likely to face the consequences of their actions. If Mr Khan and Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick are serious about solving knife crime, they must apply more pressure to bring more criminals to justice.

It is paramount that the safety of all Londoners must come first. I want to see a crime, in particular violent crime start to fall and then stay down.

To do this, Mayor Khan needs ensure that the violence taskforce needs to make sure those who are using knives to commit crime are brought to justice. Finally, he needs to build trust within our community, so people feel safe coming forward to report crimes.

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and is currently deputy leader
of the Conservative Greater London Authority Group.

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