Tough on London crime? Green Party mayoral candidate Zoë Garbett pledges ‘community-led’ approach to policing

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The Green Party’s Zoë Garbett has criticised the “tough-on-crime consensus” saying if elected mayor she would champion a community-led approach to policing.

The Green Party’s mayoral candidate has pledged to take a “community-led” approach to policing London if elected next month.

Zoë Garbett met the Met Police Service Team in Croydon on Friday morning to signal changes she would see to police practices in the capital.

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Speaking to LondonWorld, Ms Garbett said: “We know about the decades and decades of police failings and how slow the mayor of London has been to address those.

“Doubling down on that narrative of being tough on crime, I really want to work with communities to discuss what they need. I’ve talked a lot about taking a public health approach, making sure that we’re investing in youth services but also creating spaces where the community can hold the police to account.”

The Hackney councillor has pledged to de-prioritise the policing of cannabis, as “young Black people are overpoliced” and to redistribute police resources.

“The tough-on-crime consensus fixes nothing. The annual number of stop and searches in London has doubled under the current mayor and that’s done nothing to bring down crime. Whilst Tory and Labour politicians play whack-a-mole with a sledgehammer, Londoners can plainly see that it’s just not working,” she said.

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Green Party mayoral candidate Zoe Garbett Green Party mayoral candidate Zoe Garbett
Green Party mayoral candidate Zoe Garbett | Lynn Rusk

In Wimbledon on Friday, Liberal Democrats candidate Rob Blackie was also meeting with frontline officers to discuss how to make London’s streets safer.

Mr Blackie has focused his mayoral campaign around “fixing the Met”, pledging to make the force City Hall’s number one budgeting priority and to divert the majority of any surplus funds to the force.

He has promised to strengthen local policing teams and get hundreds more officers back on frontline duty, as well as to ensure there is a focus on serious crime instead of spending a “disproportionate amount of time on low-level drug offences”.

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Rob Blackie, Liberal Democrat mayoral candidateRob Blackie, Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate
Rob Blackie, Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate | Liberal Democrats

“It’s the first responsibility of the mayor to protect Londoners. Under Sadiq Khan the Metropolitan Police Service has deteriorated into an unacceptable state,” said Mr Blackie.

 “After eight years with Sadiq Khan in charge, the police are catching rapists half as often as they did and trust in the Met is at an all-time low. ​​I want Londoners to be safe walking on our streets.

 “As Liberal Democrat mayor my top priority will be to fix the Met.”

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said: “Tough policing will always be a key part of the solution to bear down on crime, which is why Sadiq is investing an additional £151m in this year’s budget for policing and crime prevention. He has doubled the amount of mayoral funding for policing and crime prevention since becoming mayor. But we know we’ll never simply be able to arrest our way out of the problem. The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems like poverty, inequality, and a lack of opportunities for young people, which have been made worse by years of government cuts to youth services.“

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Mr Khan says the upcoming election is a close two-horse race between him and his Conservative opponent Susan Hall “who doesn’t believe in the causes of crime and thinks the problems of the Met police should be dealt with “behind closed doors’”.

Ms Hall has pledged to bring back borough-based policing and put £200m into the Met Police.

A spokesperson for Ms Hall said: “No one has been softer on crime than Sadiq Khan, who has been in office for eight years. Susan is listening to Londoners who do not feel safe. She will recruit more police and bring back borough-based policing.”

The London mayoral election is on May 2, along with elections to the London Assembly. Voters are reminded they need photo ID following the introduction of new legislation.