View from the street: Mayor is to blame for police cuts

Jessica Learmond-Criqui

Jessica Learmond-Criqui - Credit: Archant

I write following my article on police cuts on April 19 to address comments from Jim Roland and Andrew Dismore in last week’s letters to the editor.

To Mr Roland, who complains that I should not be blaming Mayor Sadiq Khan for police cuts so close to local elections, I say merely that bad news does not have a time slot.

Labour assembly member Andrew Dismore suggests my facts were not right and my statement that Sadiq Khan is to blame for the fall in police numbers is wild. In fact, the mayor’s dictat to reduce police numbers was not made in April, 2018, as I suggested – it was made earlier in his March 2018 budget.

Mayor Khan is the head of the Metropolitan Police. He has ordered police numbers in Camden and Islington to fall by 91 posts (and by 1,583 officers across London), hence the loss now of our sergeant and an inspector.

The mayor obtains his revenue from a number of sources including a share of council tax (7 per cent of his revenue), a government grant (27pc), fares (45pc), other income (11pc), retained business rates (9pc) and reserves (1pc) (2016 figures).

He can spend those funds as he chooses including fully to fund any shortfall in the Met’s budget to ensure that it operates effectively.

He can raise further funds, including by asking Londoners to pay more in council tax for the Met.

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In the Strengthening Local Policing Programme (Jan 2018), the Met gave the Mayor its professional judgement, namely, a “significant number of boroughs will be unable to sustain a full range of policing services on 24/7 basis” and “a significant proportion of savings to 2021 will come from local policing”.

Despite those warnings and the PEEL Assessment in 2017 that the Met’s effectiveness and efficiency at keeping people safe and reducing crime “requires improvement”, the Mayor embraced the four year cost cutting exercise under the guise of Met efficiencies.

In his 2018/19 budget, he states that his office (MOPAC) “is committed to further reform, through its own commissioning budget and further transformations in MPS to improve performance, raise effectiveness and drive further savings”.

Andrew, I have not overlooked the points you mention but the reality is that the mayor is failing the Met - and he has mechanisms to help him to fully fund it which he will not use. Your comparison of a referendum to fund the Met properly with other referenda is puerile.

You cannot hide behind government cuts to its grant which make up only 27pc of the mayor’s total budget – wringing your hands in frustration and rolling your eyes is not good enough. Londoners expect more from their Mayor and from you.

As crime increases and victims pile up, Londoners are faced with mayor initiated reductions in local policing and response teams.

The mayor should immediately investigate whether Londoners would like a referendum and how much of an increase they may tolerate so that he can factor this into his budget for 2019/20. He can thereby provide the Met with full and proper funding so that it can fulfil its public duty – namely, to protect and to serve.