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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

London Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate says Sadiq Khan “has not made any significant progress”.

The Liberal Democrats’ candidate for London mayor has promised to reduce the “completely unacceptable” levels of crime suffered by black Londoners.

Unveiling his ‘Race Equality Plan for Policing’ on Thursday, the party’s City Hall contender Rob Blackie pointed out that black Londoners are six times more likely to be murdered and twice as likely to be raped than white Londoners.

He also argued that Labour mayor Sadiq Khan “has not made any significant progress” on addressing the issue.

Mr Khan’s team said the election was a “two horse race” between him and Tory candidate Susan Hall, and that the mayor was working to tackle the issue by “addressing the underlying causes of violence such as poverty, alienation and lack of opportunity”.

Rob Blackie, London Liberal Democrats Mayoral candidate. Image: Andrew King Photography

Mr Blackie pledged to build “stronger relationships” between the police and London’s black communities, while implementing measures to recruit, retain, and promote black police officers, with “regular reviews by the mayor to ensure accountability and progress”.

He said: “Black people are six times more likely to be murdered in London [than their white counterparts], twice as likely to be raped, 66 per cent more likely to suffer domestic abuse, and over 2.5 times more likely to be a victim of a hate crime.

“This is completely unacceptable, and the current mayor, Sadiq Khan, has not made any significant progress.

“Since he has been in charge of the Met, the proportion of black police officers has only increased from 3 per cent in 2016 to 3.6 per cent in 2023.”

According to the 2021 census, 13.5 per cent of Londoners are black. In her damning review of the Met’s culture last year, Baroness Casey said that the organisation “has failed to significantly improve the recruitment and retention of black officers at all levels”, adding that this was “particularly true of black and ethnic minority women”.

Mr Blackie’s team said that he would boost the recruitment of black officers, PCSOs and staff by adopting the model used during the initial period after the Macpherson Report’s publication, “when this focus was successful, before a loss of political will”.

The candidate has also pledged to improve and accelerate the vetting process for new recruits, starting with automated social media audits “as manual searches are drastically slowing recruitment”, and to introduce a police survey with the aim of capturing at least 10 per cent of all interactions between the police and public.

He added: “I will also conduct a comprehensive analysis of stop and search practices using bodycam footage to assess efficacy and minimise negative impacts on community relations.

“The mayor has promised to do this work for years, but has not succeeded”.

Mr Blackie revealed in November last year that a study into how officers are using their power to stop and search, first announced by the mayor in 2020, had still not been delivered more than three years on.

Responding, a spokesman for Mr Khan said: “This election is a close two-horse race between Sadiq and the Tory candidate who doesn’t believe in the causes of crime and thinks the problems of the Met Police should be dealt with ‘behind closed doors’.

“It is a sad truth that young black Londoners are over-represented as both victims and offenders and this is something we have worked to highlight in the past…

“It’s not skin colour that determines your chances of being a victim or a perpetrator, but many other environmental factors such as disproportionate rates of poverty, unemployment and school exclusions.

“We’re tackling this by addressing the underlying causes of violence such as poverty, alienation and lack of opportunity. These are crucial and require everyone – from Government, national policy makers, those in health, education, the criminal justice system and the police, to all work together to prevent violence happening in the first place.”

The London mayoral election will take place on 2 May, along with elections for the London Assembly.

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