Violent crime ‘made far worse’ by police cuts
VIOLENT crime on the streets of London has been made “far worse” by cuts to police numbers, according to the city’s mayor.
Sadiq Khan has criticised the Government for reducing the number of officers available to the Metropolitan Police.
He said he was worried about being able to keep Londoners safe with police numbers set to fall to their lowest level since 2002.
Mr Khan has voiced his concerns before meeting Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday December 4 to discuss the police funding settlement for 2019-20.
The mayor said: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex, but there is no doubt it has been made far worse by huge government cuts to the police and youth services.
“Even the Home Secretary has finally admitted that the Met won’t be able to tackle violent crime without more funding from the Government. Now we urgently need to see action to avoid officer numbers falling even further.
“Government cuts have led to London losing 3,000 police officers and more than 3,000 PCSOs and 5,000 police staff and I’m genuinely concerned about how we keep Londoners safe with officer numbers as low as 26,800.
“Ministers need to reverse the £1 billion savings forced on the Met and reverse their cuts on youth services and other preventative services so that we can keep our city safe.”
The Metropolitan Police is required to make a further £335 million worth of savings by 2022, Mr Khan’s office said, basing their figures on “updated and detailed” calculations by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime ahead of the mayor’s next budget.
The figure is £10m more than previous forecasts, they said, claiming it could lead to officer numbers falling to their lowest level since 2002.
The budget forecast also takes account of a change in police pensions which will require Scotland Yard to meet an increase in its annual pension bill of £104m from 2020, equivalent to more than 1,700 officers, the mayor’s office added.
It said the calculations were made on the basis that Mr Khan will increase the policing element of the council tax precept by 5.1 per cent, or £12 per household.
This would raise an additional £49m which is equivalent to 800 police officers, the office added.
On Friday November 30 Mr Khan said a pledge to increase police funding in England and Wales by £600 million did not go far enough to tackle a rise in violent crime.
It has been reported that the Home Secretary had secured an agreement to allow local authorities to double the amount they can add to council tax bills for policing.
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire were said to have provisionally agreed authorities can increase the precept charge on council tax bills from £1 a month to £2 a month.
The rise, which would come in in April, could raise around £450m for forces in England and Wales, it has been claimed.
In a year of rising levels of violence on London’s streets, however, critics will say that more needs to be done.
In west London alone the trend of violent crime in 2018 has continued on the streets in recent weeks.
Metropolitan Police recruits during a passing out parade for new officers