Ham&High letters: Police costs, benefit of Queen and remember the Holocaust


Picture: MET POLICE - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

Government has funded police but mayor can raise extra the cash

Cllr Oliver Cooper, Hampstead Town ward, leader Camden Conservatives, writes:

Sorry to see Barnet and Camden’s retiring London Assembly member Andrew Dismore get confused about how taxes and the police work in last week’s Ham&High. Perhaps, as a tax economist, I can explain for him.

The government has just granted the police nationally £460million: twice the rate of inflation and the biggest annual increase of all time. On top of that, the mayor of London has been given the ability to raise enough further funds through local tax to hire 1,600 additional police officers. If the mayor used that power, I would support him.

Yet Andrew Dismore demanded indignantly that the latter money come “from government” not “from the pockets of hard pressed Londoners” – but where does he think government gets its money? That’s right: taxes, which are disproportionately paid by hard-pressed Londoners.

Indeed, the average Londoner pays two-thirds more tax than the average person elsewhere in the UK. As a result, funding all police services from Whitehall – as he demanded – would cost Londoners two-thirds more than funding them through local taxation.

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That would mean cutting £295m from the Metropolitan Police – or firing about 6,000 police officers. So Labour seem to like cheap shots about the need to raise money for policing, but there’s no magic money tree – it has to come from somewhere – and it’s far better for Londoners that it be raised


But Labour’s stance is equally bizarre because it’s shirking responsibility.

Every county has an elected police and crime commissioner to allow residents to determine their priorities for the police locally, and justifying how their money is spent locally.

London’s police and crime commissioner is the mayor of London.

Of course, Andrew Dismore knows this, because when he was an MP, he himself voted for policing and police funding to be devolved to the Mayor of London via the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

I think devolving powers over policing to London was the right thing to do, but clearly, Dismore regrets having done so.

Given the rise in crime under Sadiq Khan, perhaps I don’t blame him.

But if he had his way and national government had to fund everything from national taxation, it would hit Londoners far harder.

‘Brutal’ cuts have harmed our police

Sophie Linden, London’s deputy mayor for Policing and Crime, writes:

Cllr Oliver Cooper’s letter (“Labour does not support our police”) is yet another dishonest attempt by the Conservative Party to play down the devastating impact of their government’s cuts to police budgets that have come at the same time as a nationwide rise in violent crime.

The new money in the government’s Police Funding Settlement in December represents a tiny fraction of the £1bn of cuts the Tories have forced on the Met Police and it will barely cover the £130m a year increase in the Met’s pension bill which the government itself created.

Cllr Cooper claims Sadiq Khan has the option to “fund more officers”, but he fails to mention the government provide more than 70 per cent of the Met’s funding and that the only way the mayor can do so is by raising council tax. The brutal reality of the government’s huge cuts has left the mayor no choice but to increase the council tax precept again to keep officer numbers as high as possible.

However, even this will not be nearly enough to fill the massive financial black hole created by the government and will hit London’s poorest the hardest. What London desperately needs is for the government to step up and give our police the funding they need to keep our city safe – so that we can stop falling officer numbers, as well as deal with the increased terror threat and a rising population. Until they do so they are failing in their first responsibility – to keep the public safe.

Queen is a huge credit to country

John Stratton, Thurlow Road, Hampstead, writes:

Whilst I have to agree with Cyril Meadow’s comments about the injustices of the honours system, some of his remarks are both ignorant and insulting in relation to the royal family.

There is no doubt that many of the honours given to politicians, time serving civil servants and pop stars are entirely unjustified and inappropriate and seem to be given automatically, but he seems to forget that it is not the Queen who decides whom should receive them. Most are recommended by those who work with them and are in appreciation of a lifetime’s work they have undertaken to help others or make society a better place, eg medical or scientific discoveries or contribution to the arts. Those that are “handed out” as he sarcastically puts it by HM are (apart from the automatic political and civil service ones) a mark of the esteem in which awardees are held by society, and the recipients themselves normally regard it as a great honour to have them personally given.

It is grossly insulting and ignorant to call the monarch a “mediocre woman”. Educated to the highest possible standards in order to carry out her duties as head of state, Mr Meadows ignores the tremendous workload she has to undertake daily. For a woman of 92 she has incredible stamina.

She did not choose to be monarch and is carrying out a prescribed role which is highly regarded and respected internationally. If it were not for her and the royal family and their palaces, a very large percentage of tourists – originally US residents, but now heavily weighted by Japanese, Chinese and Indian – would not be attracted to visit GB and the national economy would suffer accordingly.

We must learn from Holocaust

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, writes:

On Sunday, at more than 11,000 events across the country, hundreds of thousands of people will gather to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to remember all those affected by the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, as well as genocides which have taken place more recently in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. As well as remembering what happened, we also find ways to take positive action and make sure they can never happen again.

The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation and has implications for us all. Without a basic understanding of this recent history, we are in danger of failing to learn where a lack of respect for difference and hostility to others can ultimately lead. With a rise in reported hate crime in the UK and ongoing international conflicts at risk of genocide, our world can feel fragile and vulnerable. We cannot be complacent. For more on how you can get involved with this year’s events, go to hmd.org.uk.