View from the house: Tories are to blame for the police cuts


- Credit: Archant

The Met Police works tirelessly to keep our streets safe. And yet devastating cuts to its budget from central government are making it harder and harder for officers to do their job.

The only people who are responsible for violent crimes are the criminals. And those who commit crimes should expect to face the full force of the law.

But the Tory government must take responsibility for creating the conditions in which the appalling national rise in violent crime we have witnessed over recent weeks and years has been allowed to fester and take root

The majority of funding for the Met - 80 per cent - comes from central government, meaning it is up to ministers to make sure that officers in London have the funds they need to do their job properly.

But rather than supporting the Met, the government has cut its funding by £700m since 2010. Another £325m of cuts are planned by 2021.

In London alone, this has resulted in 4,345 fewer police staff posts and 3,016 fewer community support officers since 2010. Officer numbers at the Met risk dipping below 30,000 for the first time since 2003.

Nationwide, Tory cuts to policing since 2010 have led to the loss of over 21,000 police officers.

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There are some who suggest the pressure on policing is unique to London; that strain on 999 response teams is a Camden-phenomenon. Not only is this an insult to officers and the public who know better, but it is also a straightforward denial of evidence. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary last month found forces across the country are under such pressure that there are not enough officers to respond to emergencies.

The UK’s most senior police officers wrote to the home secretary last year warning that after losing so many officers, “the legitimacy of policing is at risk” as relationships with communities “fade to a point where prevention, early intervention and core engagemen risk becoming ineffective.”

Yes, there is a crisis in policing and community safety in this country with one common thread: Tory government decisions.

In London the mayor, Sadiq Khan, is doing everything in his power to keep frontline police officer numbers as high as possible, compensating for minister failures.

The government has refused time and time again to give the police the funding they need, so Sadiq is using the City Hall budget to give them investment.

He made the difficult decision not only to increase council tax, but to use some business rates income to invest another £110m in policing to put 1,000 more police officers on London’s streets – a move even the Tory home secretary was forced to praise.

I know that keeping Londoners safe is Sadiq Khan’s top priority as mayor, Tory austerity means he is having to act with one hand tied behind his back. The upcoming local elections are people’s chance to say they know the impact of years of Tory austerity has not only caused the fall in police officer numbers but slashed youth services, early intervention and prevention.

It is time to send a message to the Tories that we reject their cuts. For the government’s actions, which are neither tough on crime nor its causes, risk the safety of Londoners.