Police numbers ‘may fall to 19-year low’
THE “alarming scale of the police funding crisis” means police numbers could fall to a 19-year low without additional funding, the Mayor of London has said.
On Monday, Sadiq Khan launched his “strongest warning to date” about police cuts and called upon the Chancellor to end the funding crisis in next month’s budget.
He said the “dangerous” cuts are putting lives at risk at a time of rising crime and while London is experiencing an “unprecedented terror threat”.
The figures released suggest that police officer numbers may drop below 27,500 by 2021 in the capital, the lowest total since 2002.
That would equate to a staggering 26% fall in the numbers of officers per head of population since 2010 - a change from one officer per 242 Londoners in 2010, to one per 326 in 2021.
Last week, violent crime in London was found to have increased and a shift towards counter terror demand was clear following the four attacks this year.
The mayor has now called on ministers to “put public safety first” and properly fund Metropolitan Police, which currently needs to make £400 million of cuts.
He said: “The alarming scale of the police funding crisis means that Londoners’ safety is being put at risk at a time when the population is rising, crime is rising and we face an unprecedented terrorist threat. The government has the power to stop this.
“If the Chancellor does not use next month’s budget to end the long-term cuts to policing and put public safety first, then we will have no choice but to reduce our frontline.
“Government cuts have already lost us thousands of PCSOs and staff, most of our police station front counters and 120 police buildings.
“I have increased the council tax precept and provided additional funding wherever I can to protect the number of front line officers.
“If the Chancellor does not act now we risk our police officer numbers falling below 27,500 at a time when we need them most.
“This budget will affect the safety of Londoners not just today, but potentially far into the future. It is up to the Chancellor to do the right thing and ensure the public is as protected as possible.”
He added that if the cuts go through it will lead to “more pressure on the already overstretched teams” who protect vulnerable Londoners.
Responding to the mayor’s comments, Met Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said: “This is a stark prospect for all of us.
“We are faced with some very difficult challenges, choices and pressures.