The Conservatives have always been strong on crime and I will make sure that by working alongside the local police we will drive down the crime figures here in Lewisham.
Clearly the police take the leading role in the detection of crime but there is plenty that the Mayor and council can do to help stop crime at source. “Designing out” means creating a local environment that deters crime and helps people feel safe and secure.
A zero tolerance of graffiti, abandoned cars and fly tipping will help to create the feeling that crime and antisocial behaviour is not accepted. Broken windows, empty houses and boarded up shops gives the opposite impression and I will ensure that the number of failed streetlights in the borough is dramatically cut, and that poorly lit areas get extra lighting.
I applaud the “I love Lewisham” campaign and will continue to push for even speedier responses to graffiti cleaning. I will expand the scheme to cover abandoned cars and acts of vandalism. While supporting the use of Community Support Officers I will continue to push for greater numbers of real police officers out on the beat interacting with their local communities and helping to prevent crime.
People often tell me that they feel threatened by the “gangs” of young people hanging around. I make a point of speaking to these “gangs” whenever I can and in the vast majority of cases they are good kids, if a little noisy. Treating these kids like criminals will actually help turn them into criminals.
What I propose is that by working with community groups, faith groups, charities and schools we find more activities for these kids and ensure that they stay out of trouble. This will allow us to focus on the much smaller number really badly behaved youngsters and turn them around.
The police, the Mayor, the council and the community working together can beat crime. Under the last Conservative government crime rates fell and we can do the same here in Lewisham.