Conservative candidate backs training for knife offenders


The Conservative candidate for Mayor of London has promised training for knife offenders to help them turn their lives around.

Shaun Bailey would spend a chunk of City Hall’s adult education budget on those who have served jail time for carrying a knife.

He says it will help stem the violence on London’s streets, as the number of knife offences in the capital hit record levels.

There were more than 15,000 knife crimes last year, according to government figures. Around a third of offenders will wield a knife again.

But Ministry of Justice research shows those who carry a knife are more likely to have low grades and been excluded at school.

Mr Bailey believes his Second Chances Fund could turn this around, offering A-level equivalent qualifications to ex-prisoners aged nineteen and above.

Adult education funding was fully devolved to City Hall this year, and is worth £306million.

The Conservative candidate said he would spend £15.4m a year on his programme, by cancelling grants for education outside London, and pulling funding from the Mayor’s Construction Academy.

Mr Bailey said his experience as a youth worker taught him to target the causes of crime as well as criminals.

He said: “Offenders deserve a second chance to turn their lives around.

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“The best means of achieving this requires interventions that build skills, progress educational attainment and improved employability – exactly what my Second Chances Fund will do.

“Dealing with problem kids in schools is always preferable, but for those who fall through the cracks and go through the probation and prison systems, there can sometimes never be an escape.”

But Green candidate Sian Berry said support services for prisoners have been hit by cuts from the Conservative government that Mr Bailey supports.

She said: “His campaign needs to acknowledge and apologise for these cuts, not just bring out ideas at election time to plug the holes his party is responsible for creating.”

She added: “If elected, I would do much more to expand the support offenders get, including help with housing and mental health, not just education.”

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan agreed that Mr Bailey had helped with cuts to police and youth services as an advisor to former Prime Minister David Cameron.

She said: “It’s vital that Londoners don’t give the key back to those who crashed the car in the first place.”

Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita and independent candidate Rory Stewart were approached for comment.

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