London 2020 mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey of Harold Hill calls for more scan and searches to tackle youth violence after Stratford stabbing
- Credit: Archant
A candidate for the 2020 London mayoral election has called for more scan and searches to help halt knife crime.
Shaun Bailey was speaking one week after the fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Baptista Adjei outside the Stratford Centre in the Broadway on October 10.
The Conservative Party's candidate described the death of the St Bonaventure's pupil and charging of two other 15-year-olds in connection as "utterly devastating".
A former youth worker, Mr Bailey recalled his own experience of meeting a mother whose son was killed by two youngsters.
"His mother said to me her life has been destroyed, but she went on to say so has the mother of those two boys. I was quite taken aback that from her grief she had identified it wasn't just her son.
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"That other mother lost her sons as well," Mr Bailey said.
The 48-year-old father, who lives in Harold Hill, said he was praying work was under way to make sure there were no recriminations following Baptista's death.
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He put the capital's knife crime epidemic down to gang rivalry, poor parental supervision, youth culture encouraging a lack of empathy, school exclusions and drugs.
Asked if cuts had anything to do with it, he said there was "an element of truth" in the idea, but was on record as saying when the government began slashing public spending that they ran the risk of going too deep.
On solutions, he said: "Twenty years of youth work has shown me a soft response does not work without a hard response. By hard response I mean a record number of police on the streets.
"Scan and search as well as stop and search," he said.
British Transport Police (BTP) trialled body scanners, which can highlight weapons and explosives, at Stratford Station for five days last month.
The BTP and Home Office, which sponsored the trial, are now reviewing the results.
Mr Bailey said telling gang members they will get all the support society can provide if they cease criminal activity should be coupled with the threat to pursue them "to the ends of the earth" if they don't.
"You have to say as mayor, we will pursue if you do the wrong thing. We will support you if you do the right thing," Mr Bailey said.
Administration of the government's apprenticeship levy, further education spending, providing safe places for young people that don't just provide "biscuits and table tennis" besides an overhaul of careers advice are among the candidate's ideas to cut youth crime.
Highlighting for parents the pressures young people are growing up under and asking children if they feel all right matter too.
He said: "Young people don't think we care about them. [Youth work] builds the idea you are part of this society. That's important because you will not attack something you feel part of."
Challenging internet "giants" to put more resources into removing negative content posted by youngsters online which is aimed at taunting rivals and can spark violence has an important part to play too.
"We are literally talking about life and death. We have the right to ask them to do more," he said.
On what assurances he can give young people that as mayor he would make streets safer, the co-founder of youth charity My Generation said: "I don't think you can give young people assurances.
"But you can say I assure you I care. One of the really horrific things is young people say no one cares about them."
Mr Bailey said he wanted to develop five OnSide Youth Zones youth centres in the capital including one in Newham - subject to negotiations with the council - with the aim of seeing 20 up and running and paid for from City Hall's £18.5billion budget. And run by locals.
"What makes a community poor is when you keep parachuting people in. You need that community to build its own strength. People want to do that. You've just got to make sure you provide the environment for that to happen," he said.