Zac Goldsmith has promised to safeguard neighbourhood policing and recruit a dedicated team of ‘Cyber Specials’ to tackle online radicalisation in a bid to protect London from extremism and terrorism.
Describing local policing as “the first line of defence in our fight against terrorism,” the Tory mayoral hopeful today pledged that the Met’s entire force of 32,000 officers would be “safeguarded” if he’s elected next month and promised his full support for the “intelligence-led use of stop and search”.
He also pledged to set up a specialist unit of volunteer experts who would root out online extremist content, and to lobby ministers to ensure public bodies such as Universities are required to report and publish a strategy for tackling hate crime.
Mr Goldsmith has also announced plans to toughen up rules governing which events and organisations can receive public funding.
Existing City Hall rules require that those in receipt of taxpayer grants must not discriminate on the grounds of religion, race, sexual orientation or gender but Mr Goldsmith says he would go further and require that recipients demonstrate their activities “will reach out to all local residents”.
The proposed rule is aimed at breaking down barriers in society and campaign aides insisted it would have no impact on events such as Pride, Divali and Eid which are backed by the Mayor.
Mr Goldsmith said: “The first and gravest responsibility of the Mayor of London is to keep this city safe. That can only be achieved by working closely with the Government. So at its heart my Action Plan for Greater London will keep our streets safer and combat extremism.
“When extremists challenge democracy, equality, freedom of speech and respect for minorities, they are trampling on the values which make London great.
“As Mayor, I will stand up for those values, for Londoners and a united London; and against extremists that threaten our city.”
Goldsmith’s comments come just days after a BBC London poll revealed that security from terrorism is one of Londoners’ top concerns.
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Candidates for Mayor include Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.