Conservative Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has pledged to launch an initiative called ‘Operation London Ceasefire’ to halt violent crime and knife deaths in the capital.
During a major crime policy speech at the Centre for Social Justice in London last week, Shaun said he would use his 20 years’ experience as a youth worker to make the programme work and save lives.
More police and youth services will go into London’s violent crime and gang hotspots and create Safer Street Zones to divert at-risk young people away from crime on day one as his tenure as Mayor.
The 48-year-old also explained he would offer a hands-on approach and use the successful American ‘Call In’ programme that has cut gang deaths across a host of US cities to tackle knife crime across London boroughs.
The initiative ‘calls in’ young gang members on probation or parole and police and social services, plus the parents of dead gang victims, give those present a stark choice: stop or go to prison or worse. Those who respond are given help to turn their lives around.
“We need hands-on experience and tried and tested solutions to halt these needless deaths on our capital’s streets, Shaun said.
“I know first-hand that, to turn young lives around, we must target both criminals and the underlying causes of crime with innovative approaches using youth services plus traditional solutions such as more police and the carrot and stick approach fostered by the US Call-In system.”
Shaun told the audience that the present London Mayor’s approach was failing.
“What we need is a complete rethink about how we address this issue and leadership to get the job done,” he explained. “Firstly, we need a hard response to the lawlessness, which means we need more police, and more police activity to stop the bleeding.
“However, we also need to reinvest significant sums in youth and social work. This is the only way to ensure young people, who are forced out of school, run into a youth worker like me before they run into hardened criminals in jail.
“And City Hall has the money available to do a better job. The old cry that there’s no enough resources does not ring true.
The Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has been given £6.8m and a further £7m has come from the Home Office to tackle violent crime.
“The bulk of this should be directed towards gang reduction initiatives instead of funding bureaucrats or six-figure salaries of the Mayor’s friends.
“London has also just been devolved an additional £300m for its Adult Education Budget. I will allocate a large portion of this to boosting social mobility in London’s poorest communities and providing training opportunities to young adults in gangs.”
Shaun’s targeted approach through Operation London Ceasefire would take best practice from existing projects like Divert, a programme run by Metropolitan Police volunteers who meet young people in jail to steer them towards training and work opportunities. To date, Divert has reduced re-offending rates by 20%.
However, he told the audience, the current Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund will end if he gets the keys to City Hall.
“This PR-led approach to youth programming funds mostly small grants for short term work, thereby limiting their long-term effectiveness. Much has been spent on it, but it’s had next to no impact on serious violent crime or youth violence, as rates of both have continued to rise.
“And the facts speak for themselves. This Mayor has presided over a 30% increase in gun crime; a 55% increase in knife crime and a 65% increase in robbery. These statistics do not do the present situation justice. That’s lives lost, lives ruined, innocent people injured and scared to walk our streets. It’s completely unacceptable, and Sadiq Khan has overseen it all.”