Chair of Safer Neighbourhood Panel: Take control of police budgets away from government

Jessica Learmond-Criqui is calling for controls over police budgets to be taken away from government

Jessica Learmond-Criqui is calling for controls over police budgets to be taken away from government following a rise in moped-enabled crimes. - Credit: Archant

With moped enabled crimes on the increase, Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhood Panel chair Jessica Learmond-Criqui calls for powers over police financing to be taken away from government.

Jessica Learmond Criqui outside Camden Town Hall.

Jessica Learmond Criqui outside Camden Town Hall. - Credit: Archant

Last week, London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore and the Mayor confirmed the dire situation on Met funding. A helpful summary is at:

The London Assembly crime committee grilled the mayor about Metropolitan Police funding.

Highlights include the £400m deficit, the government’s announcement of a 2 per cent pay rise for the police which they won’t fund, leaving the Met in a further £18million hole and art theft and war crime police officers have been redeployed onto other more ‘pressing’ matters.

The mayor mentioned that response times to urgent calls was 15 mins.

In fact, the Metropolitan Police changed its 999 response targets in April 2012 (during funding cuts) from 12 minutes to 15 minutes. All of these changes impact on burgeoning crime in our city.

Let’s take moped enabled crime in London.

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In figures produced by the Mayor, in 2013/14, total enabled crime was 1,564 and just three years later, in the year July 1 2016 to June 30, 2017, there was a 1051pc increase to 16,445 enabled crimes.

In my opinion, this exponential growth is 80pc due to cuts to police funding, although it is not the sole cause.

As a result of the cuts, neighbourhood policing was drastically reduced in numbers so there are today less boots on the ground for deterrence effect, intelligence gathering and operation coordination in their wards.

The Met neighbourhood motorbikes which could be called upon to chase mopeds were retired about three years ago and not replaced because of cuts.

The training course for bike riders was reduced or withdrawn with funds going to train car drivers.

In addition, it may surprise you to learn that the law is the same for a police officer giving chase as for you or I giving chase with no higher threshold for the police.

This is a natural barrier as any police officer exposes themselves to criminal prosecution if as a result of a chase the rider or a pedestrian is injured or killed and they are judged to be negligent.

Any officer must risk assess the situation and if the moped is in a busy high street when its raining with lots of people around, it is unlikely they will give chase.

This situation has evolved because of tragedies which have occurred when chased moped riders have died coming off their bikes at speed or where pedestrians have been killed by such riders.

In some cases, the officers chasing them have been prosecuted.

Who is going to put their careers and the security of their families in that situation?

The law on police chasing needs to be changed.

The Met will say that there are specifically trained drivers (referred to as Tactical Pursuit and Chase drivers) and they prefer that only those TPAC drivers give chase but I don’t think there are many such drivers in Camden and Islington.

So where does all of this leave us?

I suggest that police budgeting and finance must be removed from the government’s control.

They don’t know what they are doing and this should be moved to an independent body who fund the police properly after rigorous and effective checking and control of expenditure.

It is time for a step change in police funding.

It impacts on all of our safety and must be removed from the political football field.