The race to become Lewisham's next directly-elected mayor is hotting up. Over the coming weeks News Shopper will be grilling the major candidates on important issues. GLENN EBREY starts by asking the mayoral hopefuls what they intend to do about crime and anti-social behaviour.

Steve Bullock

CURRENT Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock wants to see a more "visible police presence" on the streets:

I know from talking to people over the past four years they are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour.

Serious crime makes people afraid to use public transport or walk the streets, particularly in the evenings.

But low-level crime graffiti, vandalism and flytipping also play their part.

I'm making changes to our community warden scheme so they can work effectively with the Metropolitan Police's Safer Neighbourhood teams, who will be covering the whole of Lewisham by April.

I am giving £250,000 to the Met to pay for additional community support officers, to increase the visible presence on our streets which can make a real difference in reducing crime and reassuring people.

The vast majority of our young people are a credit to their parents and make a real contribution to their community.

However, a small minority cause a lot of problems.

We need to support the majority but act firmly to deal with the minority of troublemakers.

James Cleverly

CONSERVATIVE hopeful James Cleverly says he will set up a dedicated social justice team to tackle anti-social behaviour:

Street crime in Lewisham has increased by 18 per cent in under a year and for many people it is their top concern.

As mayor I would work closely with the police and I applaud recent moves to get more beat officers onto the streets, something the Conservatives have called for for years.

The mayor and council can play an important role by "designing out" crime in Lewisham.

Graffiti, broken windows, closed-up shops and abandoned cars all give the impression the community isn't in control and encourages crime. Zero tolerance of these things will reduce crime.

But being tough is not the whole answer. School exclusion, family breakdown and a lack of youth activities also contribute.

This is why I will set up a dedicated social justice team to look into ways of supporting voluntary, charity and faith groups which tackle these problems.

Criminality in Lewisham is not inevitable. I would tackle it.

Chris Maines

LIB Dem contender Chris Maines wants to reduce people's fear of crime:

The mayor plays a vital role in making Lewisham a safe place.

As each area gets a dedicated team of police officers, the mayor must ensure these teams are working with all sections of the community.

I will capitalise on the commitment of residents, providing them with a budget to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The mayor can also help prevent crime and reduce the fear of crime by improving street lighting and the condition of public footpaths.

It is important to encourage residents to feel safe, particularly at night.

I will undertake a full review of the street warden schemes and provide renewed funding for the longer term.

I also want to provide more funding to provide a 24-hour anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance telephone and patrol service.

Many crimes in Lewisham involve young people, both as victims and offenders. The council must engage more with young people and ensure it funds activities which interest them.

Mike Keogh

GREEN Party candidate Mike Keogh hopes to encourage more "positive behaviour" among young people:

My Green Party colleagues in the London Assembly voted for increased spending on neighbourhood policing, with more officers on foot, bicycle and horseback.

As mayor I would lobby for this and put it in place with significantly more funding where there is a real need and a strong demand.

As a teacher I favour the carrot' approach, which includes providing vocational training with certificates for those young people who have slipped through mainstream education, so they can be employed in the imminent major projects.

I would keep facilities such as swimming pools open and provide centres, skateparks, well-designed open spaces and suitable shelters to encourage positive behaviour.

For those people who are anti-social I would encourage open spaces to be built by designing out crime through better lighting, prompt repairs and more caretakers and staff on estates, railway stations and parks.

I would also ensure graffiti, flytipping or significant littering is removed within 24 hours of being reported by the public.

  • News Shopper is looking for a dedicated election panel where YOU, the electorate, can hold the mayoral candidates to account. To take part, email or call 01689 885711.