I’ve campaigned to cut crime in London since the early 2000s. Back then I first saw the damage that the crack epidemic was doing to my community in Vauxhall. So I got involved with a campaign to get a drugs treatment centre near my then-home in central Brixton. Local Labour councillors tried to stop us. But we successfully mobilised hundreds of people, including recovering addicts, to get it through.
Tackling crime is complex but here are some policies that can reduce crime in London.
Better mental health and addiction treatment.
Within a month of the Lib Dems leaving government in 2015, the Conservatives cut £200m from public health budgets. Some of this was used for treating people with drug and alcohol problems. If we treat these problems better, we divert many people from crime. We also save many children from being taken into care, which is often a fast track to dropping out of school and getting involved in crime.
Former Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor, Brian Paddick, often talks of the crucial role of soft intelligence in stopping crime. Recent police cuts have weakened the link between the police and our communities. This makes it harder for them to prevent crimes in the first place.
This is also why our campaigns to save police stations are so important. This isn’t about the precise size and location of buildings. The police need to be based in the community, accessible, visible and connected to the people they serve.
One simple policy we have championed in London is to make sure that Accident & Emergency departments have youth workers. They can work to divert injured young people from crime, at a time when they are often ready to listen.
Better use of data to stop crime
Lib Dems have championed the ‘Cardiff Model’ for over 10 years. In Cardiff hospitals shared anonymised data about victims of violence with the police. Two thirds of violent crime is never reported to the police, especially crimes involving gangs or domestic violence. This data allows the police to understand hotspots of crime and has dramatically cut violent crime in Cardiff.
When I was a London Assembly candidate seven years ago in 2011, I campaigned for full implementation of the Cardiff model in South London. I discovered local hospitals had not implemented the Cardiff model.
Focusing on the most prolific criminals
4,000 prolific criminals in London are responsible for £2.2bn of costs in London. They average 57 arrests over their lives. Focusing on diverting these criminals from crime could hugely cut crime.