Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey once described increasing police numbers as an “absolutely useless” way to deter criminals.

Mr Bailey, who will face Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral elections next year, made the comments in 2005, the Independent revealed today.

He argued that increasing police numbers would be ineffective without changing the attitudes of offenders.

With high levels of violent crime in the capital, Mr Bailey has repeatedly attacked Sadiq Khan’s record on crime, and criticised him for not funding more police.

But writing in a paper for right wing think tank Centre for Policy Studies in 2005, Mr Bailey said: “The police can’t deal with the causes of the problem. To expect them to is one of the big myths in our world.

“Everyone talks about more policemen. Absolutely useless. Anybody who knows anything about criminals will realise that they are not concerned with police, they never have been and never will be.

“The only way to cut crime or anti-social behaviour is to change people’s attitudes.”

The comments came to light as Mr Bailey launched a new policy to tackle violent crime in London if he is elected Mayor next year.

In a speech to The Centre for Social Justice today, the Tory candidate said “Operation London Ceasefire” would echo techniques used in Boston and across the US.

The focus would be on tougher policing in crime hotspots in the capital, and meetings between offenders on parole and former gang members and police to deter them from further crime.

Commenting on Mr Bailey’s former statements, a spokesperson said that senior Labour politicians – including Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn – have also pointed to the wider societal problems that cause crime, arguing that Mr Bailey had been making the same point.

The spokesperson said: “While Sadiq Khan was literally writing the book on how to sue the police and earning a living doing just that, Shaun Bailey was hard at work on the streets as a youth worker keeping young people away from violent crime.

“Shaun has long argued that tackling crime requires both a police response and a broader effort to address the underlying root causes of crime. You can’t have the former without the latter or else long-term progress won’t be made – a point Shaun made during his speech today.”

But Labour MP Wes Streeting, who represents Ilford North, said Mr Bailey “can’t be trusted to do what’s best for Londoners”.

He said: “Shaun Bailey seems to be the last person left still saying we don’t need cash for more police officers on our streets.

“No doubt that’s because he oversaw huge cuts to policing and youth services when he was a key advisor to the Tory government on crime and young people.

“Shaun Bailey and his Tory friends are not only weak on crime – they’re also weak on the causes of crime.”