Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Boris Johnson minds the gap between fear and fact

Boris Johnson came to power promising to reverse the 'steady and undisputed rise in robbery' on London's streets and transport networks. But new figures out today show that the previous administration managed to halve the number of robberies on the Underground and substantially reduce almost all forms of Tube crime.

The figures published by the British Transport Police show that despite fearmongering by the Boris Johnson and his team, crime on the underground has dramatically decreased, with robberies down 51% in the last year alone.

And from listening to Boris Johnson's and Brian Paddick's campaign speeches, you would have thought City Hall had squandered all the capital's police money on advertising and PR, but these new figures confirm that there has been a 65% increase in the number of British Transport Police officers on the Tube and DLR.

However, as actual crime decreases, our new Mayor's fear of crime increases. Reacting to the new figures Boris Johnson said today:

"The reported cut in crime on the Tube and Docklands Light Railway is very encouraging, and is a trend that I fully intend to build upon as Mayor. Unfortunately many Londoners do not feel as safe as they should do when using the network, which is why we have made tackling transport crime one of our number one priorities. The transport network plays an important role in the lives of millions of Londoners, and it is essential that the tubes and trains are places where we can all go without the fear of crime."

But it is precisely that 'important role' that the network plays in people's lives that is the reason why fears should not be unnecessarily raised by politicians seeking power. 

Because the vast majority of people using the tube do so because they have no choice, and to deliberately frighten them as Boris did, despite the evidence that crime was falling, was as irresponsible as it was cynical.

So now you are Mayor Boris, I suggest you take the advice of your new pal Michael Bloomberg. Speaking to the BBC after meeting him, the Mayor of New York said:

"Boris has got to be seen out there with the average person. Be in the (places) that some people think are dangerous so he can show that they are not... if you can get more people in the parks you will have less crime. Crime goes to places where there aren't people."

As law-abiding Londoners desert an area, crime and disorder fills its place. And our Mayor it is now Boris Johnson's duty to make us feel as safe on London's Transport as these figures show we should be. 

Because unnecessarily heightening our fears may have got him into power, and posing as the man of law and order may keep him there for now. But if Boris Johnson is really going to help this city, as he says he wants to, then he should stop trading on our fears and start trading on the facts.
Thanks to Tom for the heads-up


Chris said...

It's worth noting that while you're writing about Mayor Johnson saying this and that, he is actually saying it from the comfort of his yacht in Turkey!

He's working flat out that man.

angelneptunestar said...

Instead of getting all partisan, can't we just be delighted if the figures are truly down, and hope that something major is done soon to reduce knife crime?

asquith said...

Usual shit. I don't see how law and order became a Tory issue anyway. Their "policy" of being punitive & authoritarian, while totally ignoring issues like poor education, worklessness and the other causes of crime, has been proven to be a failure. Crime rose dramatically on Thatcher's watch, didn't it? The fucker treated people like scum, and brutalised them, then acted surprised when they behaved like scum and brutes.

A liberal society would be a low-crime society. The statistics prove that Daily Hell readers are totally wrong.

The Tory Troll said...

The point is Angela, that Boris made it partisan. A large part of his campaign was based on persuading the public that Ken didn't give a shit about crime when in reality his administration and the police had actually done a lot to bring it down.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

I only just caught a glimpse of the headine on the front of London Lite on the way home - but I'm sure the paper was trying to claim Johnson was responsible for the drop.


The Tory Troll said...

5cc- The Evening Standard spun it as 'knife crime goes down after scanners installed' which makes it sound like Boris is responsible as he went on about scanners throughout the campaign. It also kind of makes it sound like Boris has been in power for the last year. We have always been at war with Eurasia Londoners...