This article originally appeared on Conservative Home.
In a recent article, Mark Lehain of the Centre for Policy Studies came up with the perfect description of Sadiq Khan: “a one-man gimmick factory”. This was prompted by the current Mayor’s plan to seek to reduce school exclusions in London. Please note Khan has no powers over schools. Not only does London already have the lowest rates of exclusions in England but unbelievably – and without firm evidence – he’s modelling the policy on Glasgow, where a 90% reduction in exclusions has caused massive problems in Glasgow schools.
It should be no surprise that instead of focusing on his most important day job, keeping Londoners safe from crime, Khan has leapt on this policy, because he’s never met a gimmick he doesn’t like. Take his ban on TfL advertising foods ‘High in Fats, Salt and Sugar’, which the Mayor proudly introduced in February 2019. Despite categorically failing to achieve its aim of tackling childhood obesity, the ban was most recently in the news for forcing a new play to spend thousands of pounds on replacing an advert that featured a wedding cake. The Mayor even had the temerity to try to defend this ridiculous decision at July’s Mayor’s Question Time. But now I am digressing from crime to gimmicks. You can see how Khan has got away with his conjuring trick for seven long years.
Despite Khan’s obsession with gimmicks, I doubt there is a single residents association leader, councillor, Assembly Member, or MP, who would fail to put crime as the number one issue that members of the public bring to their attention. Khan has a litany of failings as London’s Mayor, from insisting on a ULEZ expansion which the TfL-commissioned Jacobs IIA makes clear will do virtually nothing to improve London’s air quality, to manifestly failing to build the homes London needs. Given this, it is surprising that crime in London is not front-page news more often.
Crime has a more serious impact on Londoners than the vast majority of the claptrap on which London’s erstwhile Mayor spends so much of his time. As the Constituency Assembly Member for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster, every week I’m contacted by people whose lives are being blighted by criminal acts which are rarely even acknowledged, let alone seen as a priority, by Khan.
When the number of crimes in London has reached over one million a year – compared to 780,000 from July 2016 to June 2017 – it is clear that the situation is out of control.
Given detection rates have fallen year on year during his seven years in office, all Khan can do when trying to defend his record is to point to the dip during lockdown and pretend he’s been a success. The table below shows just how significant the fall in Sanction Detections Rates has been from the Mayor’s first year in power – when he could coast on his inheritance – to today.
London’s Mayor would prefer that no one shares that table, just as he would prefer to sweep under the carpet the numbers of small retailers who are facing financial ruin because of theft on an industrial scale. It is no coincidence that this coincides with the virtual decriminalisation of such theft (I refuse to use the inappropriately cosy term shoplifting) just as Khan has launched a Commission to look at decriminalising cannabis. It may be unfashionable in BBC and Guardian circles to point out the link between drug use and such criminality to feed an addict’s habit, but it remains true.
Residents who are woken up by screaming junkies and suffer aggressive begging as they walk their children to school should not have to tiptoe past the results of Khan’s failure to tackle so called “low level crime” just because they wish to venture outside their homes. Why is aggressive begging tolerated outside Tube stations? Ask the Chairman of Transport for London, one Khan.
Meanwhile WhatsApp groups across London fill up on a daily basis with links to Nextdoor and other social media showing a morning after catalogue of last night’s outrages as car owners and homeowners suffer violent and intrusive burglary and theft.
Every fortnight I take part in the London Assembly’s most important meeting, a three-hour Police and Crime Committee. What often strikes even the Labour Party’s Assembly Members, judging by their facial expressions, is the sheer complacency and lack of empathy of those sent along to answer for Khan. Worse still is the attitude of the Mayor himself at the monthly Mayor’s Question Time. Rather than actually address crime, Khan, who is London’s Police and Crime Commissioner, sticks to his student union-style slogans. We are indignantly told these failings are down to “Tory Austerity” and that “It’s the Government’s fault”.
With police funding restored in the 2019 Conservative Party Manifesto – 20,000 more Police – he has no more excuses. Only this month, Policing Minister, Chris Philp MP, wrote to the Mayor highlighting concerns that I have raised for many years; that Khan has manifestly failed to support the Met’s recruitment campaign. With record full employment in London and across the country and record funding, the Met is somehow struggling to recruit and may be more than 2,000 police officers short by next year. Despite this, there is no sense of urgency or, in fact, interest from Khan.
I’ll end on a positive: the Home Secretary “gets it” and Senior Police Officers seem to finally appreciate that the public expect action on the crimes that blight so many Londoners’ lives. The new Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, is, I hope, starting to turn around years of decline, largely by working on getting the basics right.
Now, all Londoners need to do is vote on May 2nd next year and say good riddance to the irrelevance, which is Khan and his truly appalling record on crime and gimmicks.
This article originally appeared on Conservative Home.