London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has made crime a key component in his campaign to defeat incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan, warning that London risks “going from the Covid pandemic to a crime epidemic.” Reflecting this concern, the latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that almost half (47%) of Londoners feel the capital is currently becoming more unsafe. 28% conversely believe London is becoming more safe, results that have not changed meaningfully since we last asked Londoners about crime in March 2021.
Still, 49% of respondents agree that, thinking about the policing situation in London, their local area is a safe place. While remaining consistent with results from March 2021, this figure has decreased from 56% in August and 53% in October 2020, revealing that Londoners seem to feel increasingly less safe in their local areas.
But while Shaun Bailey is right to note that rising crime levels are a major concern for many residents of the capital, most Londoners do not share his view that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is to blame: when asked who is most at blame for the level of violent crime in London, 30% say the Metropolitan Police, 28% say the UK Government, and 20% say the London Government.
Those who voted Conservative in the 2019 General Election are divided between putting the most blame on the Metropolitan Police (29%) and the London Government (28%), whereas Labour voters are divided between the Metropolitan Police (33%) and the UK Government (32%). Voters therefore appear more prone to blaming a Government not led by the Party for which they voted in 2019, though both also put considerable blame on the Metropolitan Police.
Furthermore, when asked about recent reductions in the number of police officers and police stations in London, almost half (46%) of respondents recognized that these cuts were primarily a result of decisions by the UKGovernment, rather than by the London Government (28%).
Reiterating this point, a plurality (47%) of respondents think the Prime Minister and Westminster currently have the most power and responsibility with respect to policing in London. Meanwhile, just over a third (36%) think the London Mayor and London Assembly have more power and responsibility in this area.
However, when asked who they think should have the most power and responsibility, a plurality (46%) of respondents say the London Mayor and London Assembly should have the most power and responsibility with respect to policing in London. Nevertheless, a close 41% say the Prime Minister and Westminster should have the most power and responsibility regarding policing in the capital.
49% of 2019 Labour voters say the London Mayor and London Assembly should have the most power and responsibility with respect to policing, whereas 52% of 2019 Conservative voters say the Prime Minister and Westminster should have the most power and responsibility, again revealing a partisan divergence on the matter.
On the whole, a plurality (43%) of Londoners say they are satisfied with Sadiq Khan’s policies regarding policing, while 23% are dissatisfied. Respondents who intend to vote for Sadiq Khan in the upcoming Mayoral Election (58%) are significantly more satisfied with his policing policies than likely Shaun Bailey voters (33%), with a plurality of the latter group saying they are dissatisfied (38%).
Although fears of a post-pandemic surge in crime may be warranted, it seems many Londoners believe policing most falls under the jurisdiction of Westminster rather than the London Government, and thus relatively few think Sadiq Khan and the London Assembly are most at blame for the capital’s crime levels. In fact, a plurality of Londoners are satisfied with Sadiq Khan’s policing policies and think the London Mayor and Assembly should have the most power in this area. With almost half of the city’s population feeling London is becoming more unsafe, this tussle will no doubt be one of the Mayor’s biggest challenges in the coming years, regardless of who wins in the 6 May Election.