Conservative Shaun Bailey will have 40,000 police on the streets of London by the end of his first term as Mayor, if elected in May.

The former youth worker today (Friday) launched the biggest policy pledge of his campaign, promising to recruit almost 9,000 extra officers over the next four years.

Mr Bailey would introduce a hotel tax in the capital, lobby the Government for extra funding, and bring in New York-style scanning surveillance to fund the rise.

He said the next Mayor must act to bring down violent crime, after 149 homicides in 2019 made it London’s deadliest year in over a decade.

Launching his policy at Stoke Newington police station this morning, Mr Bailey said tackling crime was his “number one priority”.

A few minutes later, on a weapons sweep of a housing estate near the station, officers found a knife concealed in shrubbery.

Mr Bailey told the Local Democracy Service this demonstrated the fear within communities.

He said: “It shows people are worried. It shows people think everyone else has got a weapon so they need one.

“A lot of young people are being caught for very serious weapons possession, but they have no former criminal record – and they’re legitimately telling you they’re scared.

He added: “I want people to feel like they will get caught so they feel like they don’t need to be armed – that for me is very important”

Ealing Times: Knife found during a weapons sweep on Friday (Photo: Shaun Bailey Campaign).Knife found during a weapons sweep on Friday (Photo: Shaun Bailey Campaign).

The mayoral hopeful says he’d fund over 1,500 officers by cutting budgets for marketing, staff, and union representatives at City Hall, saving £104 million.

Conservatives on the London Assembly pushed to amend the Mayor’s annual spending plans and make these savings earlier this week – but their amendment was voted down.

Mr Bailey also claims his hotel levy could raise £48 million a year, and pay for almost 750 new officers.

And he wants the Home Office to fund an extra 4,631 police for the capital – bringing the total to 6,000 new officers, in line with Met chief Cressida Dick’s demands.

This would mean London getting more than its fair share of the 20,000 officers the Prime Minister promised.

Mr Bailey would ask for a small increase to planned Government funding this year and next year, and an extra cash boost for London in 2023/24.

But the power to introduce a hotel levy or fund these extra officers ultimately lies with Ministers.

The Conservative candidate admits its “pretty early days” in his discussions with the Boris Johnson – but remains optimistic because he hasn’t “been told no at this point”.

Mr Bailey also plans to introduce  a controversial surveillance system used in New York to save the Met up to £30 million a year.

The Domain Awareness System uses artificial intelligence to spot patterns in footage from thousands of CCTV cameras, and numberplate readers.

Mr Bailey said he was not concerned about the technology, which he described as “non-invasive”.

He said: “It’s all about the way it’s deployed, so from that point of view I don’t have a worry because it’s about safety.

“You have to weigh this up against de-escalating the number of weapons on the streets.”

Ealing Times: Shaun Bailey uses a metal detector during a weapons sweep in Hackney (Photo: Shaun Bailey Campaign)Shaun Bailey uses a metal detector during a weapons sweep in Hackney (Photo: Shaun Bailey Campaign)

But rival mayoral candidates today questioned the Conservative assembly member’s focus on increasing police numbers.

Green Party co-leader and mayoral candidate Sian Berry said better community policing, not a simple increase in officer numbers, is the key to tackling crime in the capital.

She said: “Quick-fix solutions like simply putting more police on the streets, parachuting unknown officers into communities and increasing intrusive surveillance, will not solve violence.”

She said “giving officers the time to get to know their communities” is “a key part of prevention”.

And Lib Dem candidate Siobhan Benita said London needs “bold investment” in youth services and a “radical overhaul” of drugs laws to tackle crime.

She said: “The Conservative idea that you can simply arrest your way out of knife crime is proof that they have no understanding of what needs to be done.

“If we’re really going to get to grips with this crisis, we have to tackle the root causes of violent crime too.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor said Mr Bailey’s plan was “simply pie in the sky”.

He said: “As Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has shown that he is standing up for Londoners and is serious about putting more police on the streets.

“He has a plan to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime – by investing in community and sports projects to create more opportunities for young Londoners and funding 1,300 extra police by increasing council tax by 26p a week.”

Independent mayoral candidate Rory Stewart was approached for comment.